Lycopus uniflorus (Northern Bugleweed)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; along shores, wet meadows
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:6 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] A small dense cluster of 1/8-inch white flowers surrounding leaf axils along much of the plant; usually not all in a cluster are open at the same time. Individual flowers are tubular with 4 spreading lobes of approximately equal size, sometimes the upper lobe is 2-parted or merely notched. 2 purple-tipped stamens extend out of the tube. The calyx has 5 broadly triangular lobes, sharply pointed at the tips and shorter than the floral tube.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, hairless or minutely hairy, coarsely toothed around the edges, generally lance-elliptic, pointed at the tip, wedge-shaped at the base, on a short stalk. Attachment is opposite with leaf pairs at right angles to the pair above and below. Stems are square, hairless or minutely hairy, and unbranched.

[photo of tuber] Prostrate stems (stolons) root at the nodes and terminate in a tuber, which produces a flowering stem the following year.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a set of 4 nutlets forming a square, each nutlet containing a single seed. The calyx lobes do not extend past the fruits.


There are several Lycopus species in Minnesota, all with similar clusters of small, white, tubular flowers around the leaf axils, most growing in the same type of habitat at the same time, often next to each other. Northern Bugleweed is most easily distinguished by its short calyx, relative hairlessness, and coarsely toothed but unlobed leaves; it is easiest to separate from the others (especially L. asper) when fruits are present. American Water Horehound (Lycopus americanus) is distinguished by its deeply lobed lower leaves; Rough Bugleweed (Lycopus asper) by its hairy stem and calyx, the calyx lobes as long as the floral tube and much longer than the fruits; Virginia Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus) by its broader, hairy leaves and lack of tubers. Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis) also has clusters of small flowers in the axils, but  has usually pink to lavender flowers, and a strong mint scent when leaves are crushed. Lycopus species are not aromatic.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Moore Lake in Anoka County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Holly - Plymouth, Hennepin County
on: 2015-09-26 20:54:20

I found this growing along the shore of Lost Lake in Plymouth. I had no idea if it was native or invasive. Thanks for this terrific site. Now I know I can leave alone as I plant blue flag iris and blue gentian seeds alongside the bugleweed.

Posted by: Tim Johnson - Hennepin
on: 2018-08-07 11:36:11

Growing on Mississippi shore in River Park, Brooklyn Park in a patch of Allegheny Monkeyflower, Obedient Plant, Germander and Smartweed.

Posted by: gary - Carlton County
on: 2020-08-03 21:31:03

The leaves have a resiny aromatic odor that can be detected when lightly brushed.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.