Monarda punctata (Spotted Horsemint)

Plant Info
Also known as: Spotted Beebalm
Genus:Monarda
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:sun; dry prairies, fields
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] Whorls of flowers around leaf axils in the upper part of the plant and at the end of branching stems. Flowers are ¾ to 1 inch long, tubular, yellow covered in purple spots and hairy on the outer surfaces. The upper lip is long, narrow and arcing, the lower is broader and lobed in 3 parts, with a short rectangular extention at the tip. 2 stamens extend just below the tip of the upper lip. A tubular calyx holds the flower. Below the flowers, whorled around the stem, are 5 to 10 leaf-like colored bracts, ranging from white to dark pink, that are noticeably shorter than the leaves.

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

[photo of leaves] Bracts may be mistaken for leaves. Bracts attachment is whorled, leaf attachment is opposite though there are often small leaves bundled in the axils. Leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, softly hairy, typically finely serrated especially around the tip end, pointed at both ends, and stalked. Leaves on the lower part of the plant are green but can assume the color of the bracts on the flowering axils. Both bracts and leaves are gently recurved. Stems are brown and densely hairy.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of seed] The flower drops off leaving the calyx behind; seed forms inside the calyx. Seed is smooth, brown, oval, just over 1 millimeter long.

Notes:

Horsemint makes an excellent garden plant, doing well in both heavier soils and light hot sandy soils. Crushed leaves and seedheads both green and dried give off a wonderful pungent odor and which I've have loved as a potpourri.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Dakota County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Chisago, Anoka, Dakota counties.

Comments

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

Posted by: Stewart - Des Moines, Ia
on: 2012-04-07 17:06:21

I have grown these in my garden for several years now and I love them, they are so fragrant when you handle them. They range at least as far south as mid to south Iowa, I got my original seeds near Saylorville Lake NW of Des Moines. In the fall I gather up the dead plants and break them up for potpourri. The delicate lavender and white make a nice standout splash of brightness amongst the green and they bloom for quite a while, starting low and moving up the stems. Sometimes there are new flowers still coming on while at the bottom, some of the seed heads are almost mature. They are extremely hardy and produce lots of seeds to share with friends.

Posted by: AshleyRose - Stewartville
on: 2013-06-07 14:23:46

I'm looking forward to finding this plant for my backyard. Looking for who sells it. Thank you for your post.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2013-06-16 10:58:12

Anyone looking for nurseries carrying this or any other species, see "where to buy native seeds and plants" that is in the right column of almost every page of the Minnesota Wildflowers web site.

Posted by: Penny - minneapolis 55406
on: 2016-08-22 22:02:40

Boulevard planting in sandy loam yielded beautiful flowers with bee and wasp activity, most heavily Great Black Wasp and possibly European Paper Wasp. Fun seeing them with their backs all frosted in white pollen from this flower. I've lots of seed from just one plant already this last week.

Posted by: Maria D - Whitewater WMA
on: 2017-07-26 09:58:31

Saw this in full bloom today in Whitewater Wildlife Management Area. I'd never seen it before. What a treat!

Posted by: Bruce A - William Obrien State Park
on: 2017-09-02 11:59:40

Plants growing in restored prairie in the park. Past peak flowering.

Posted by: Wayne N - Big Lake
on: 2017-09-09 08:56:35

Found these growing in the ditch next to my yard. Took a bunch of pictures in August to find out what they were. Interesting looking flowers.

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