Friday, July 30, 2010
Horsemint - Monarda Punctata
I see something new every time I drive by the dry, sandy prairies along Rustic Road 107.
Today it was clumps of pale yellowish-green plants among the islands of purple Wild Monarda (fistulosa), the recent growth spurt of bluestem grasses and the bright yellow petals of the Black-eyed Susan.
Despite the rain, I couldn't resist getting out of the Prius for a closer look.
The square stem is a clue to its identity: it's a mint.
Dotted pale yellow flowers with greenish-purple bracts sat on the stem like shishkabobs.
The flowers are similar in shape to its lavender cousin - wild bergamot. One of 16 species endemic to North America, I'd never noticed it before: dotted horsemint (spotted beebalm), monarda punctata. It's found throughout the eastern and central states.
Native Americans used the dried leaves to flavor meats and as a tea. Thymol, an oil found in this plant, is one of the ingredients in mouthwashes that acts as an antiseptic. It's also the primary ingredient in toe nail fungus treatments.
Posted by hvhughes at 7:00 PM