Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday: Monarda citriodora

Monarda citriodora, a flowering plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae) that is native to much of the United States and Mexico, has many common names. It is variously called purple horsemint, lemon beebalm, lemon horsemint, purple lemon mint, and other iterations of those names. The plant grows 1 - 2 feet tall and has unusual tuft-like, lavender to pink, whorled flower heads. Each separate whorl in the elongated spike of bloom is subtended by leaf-like bracts. Several stems grow from the plant's base and these stems have pairs of lance-shaped leaves.

This plant is extremely attractive to bees and butterflies, which accounts for one of its common names, beebalm. It has a very distinctive citrus or lemony scent when the leaves are rubbed or crushed. It is easy to grow and, over time, will form large colonies. It is classified as an annual but readily reseeds and comes back year after year. It has an exceptionally long bloom period from May through July and often, with enough water, will continue blooming even further into the summer. The plant can be susceptible to powdery mildew, but, on the plus side, it is deer-resistant.

Purple horsemint, the common name that I prefer, has many uses, primarily as a nectar plant for bees, butterflies and other insects, as well as hummingbirds. But it has also been used as food for humans. It can be used raw or cooked in salads and as flavoring in cooked foods, and a refreshing tea can also be brewed from its leaves.

Seeds of the plant are readily available. I got my start from seeds purchased at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin.  
Today, I am linking to Gail's "clay and limestone" monthly Wildflower Wednesday meme. Visit her site to learn more about wildflowers and meet other participants.

12 comments:

  1. Beautiful!
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea

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  2. I enjoyed your photo of this pretty wildflower, and thank you for all the information that you provided. Very interesting to me as I love to learn about wildflowers. And thank you so much for visiting me and leaving such a nice comment. Have a great weekend :)

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    1. Wildflowers are endlessly fascinating and there is a virtually endless supply of them. Lots to learn!

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  3. Your Monardas look so pretty, I'm not sure what happened to the ones I grew last year, I'll have to look for them. I started some different ones from seed this year so I hope they will bloom.

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    1. I bet they'll come back for you. They may be hiding among your other plants.

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  4. Mmm. Looking at your lovely photo, I can almost smell the lemony scent and taste the tea you mentioned.

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    1. It's a wonderful plant. You should try it. I think it would probably grow well in your area.

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  5. I get my different monardas mixed up with each other. This sure is a cool looking one. It is shorter than what I have that is similar to it. I do have a cultivar that is shorter, though. I'm not sure if I knew you can buy seeds from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, but I like to look up information on that site.

    Thanks for stopping by my WW post. I had to laugh at your comment about remembering what is where. I actually do not use tags like I think I"d like to, but when I know people are coming over, I sometimes do something makeshift, and the writing washes off after a season or so. I did buy a container of hangers, broken down and bent into something to put a tag on, and some lids that I wrote on to hang on them because I did have some people over for a plant exchange a few weeks ago. I still have the rest of the broken down hangers, so maybe I'll label some more plants. I know I had some trouble this spring when plants first came up, because I couldn't remember what some of them were. ;-)

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    1. I'm basically hopeless at keeping track of what is planted where in my garden or even always remembering the names of things, but I've decided I can live with that! Acceptance sure makes life easier.

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    2. LOL, though, it wasn't you who said something about the labeling of plants. It was the person before you. I am pretty scatterbrained! Have fun in your garden!

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    3. Nevertheless, it did apply to me! Thanks for stopping by.

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