Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia Mountain Mint)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; fields, prairies, thickets, fens
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
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: flat

[photo of flowers] Flowers are densely packed in flat clusters about 1 inch across at the top of the plant, and at the end of stems branching from the upper leaf axils. Only a few flowers in a cluster are in bloom at one time. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch across and tubular with 2 lips. The upper lip has 2 lobes, but may look like 1. The lower lip has 3 lobes all about the same size. Color is white with purple spots. Inside the tube are 4 stamens with white tips that turn brown with age; the outside of the tube is covered in fine hairs.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 2½ inches long and ½ inch wide, toothless and hairless, tapering to a pointed tip, with a slightly rounded base and no stalk. Attachment is opposite. Stems are square with short hairs along the angles; color is green or reddish. Plants tend to create small colonies from short, spreading rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Each flower produces 4 1-seeded nutlets.


The leaves are strongly aromatic when crushed. Mature plants may have many branches and take on a bushy appearance. A similar species, Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium), has a hairless stem and leaves not more than ¼ inch wide. It is not known to be in Minnesota but is present in Wisconsin.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake and Rice Creek Trail Regional Parks, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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

Posted by: Pat - Meeker Co.
on: 2012-04-07 20:15:54

Growing near the railroad track outside Litchfield.

Posted by: Jill - River Bend Nature Center, Faribault
on: 2012-07-14 17:35:04

We have a few patches of these around our nature center and weren't sure what they were. They are growing in our prairie. Thanks for the ID help!

Posted by: Gabriel - South Minneapolis
on: 2015-05-03 21:25:49

This plant is important food for short-tongued bees and wasps, and should be planted more often in gardens. Because the flowers are tiny, these insects can reach into them to drink the nectar. If you've watch it while it's in bloom, you'll see lots of different wasps crawling all over the flowers. Don't be afraid to plant it; it mainly attracts harmless wasps, not the yellow-jackets and hornets that sting people. Wasps are beautiful, and it's fascinating to see the many different species that are native to Minnesota.

Posted by: Susan CM - Victoria
on: 2017-07-10 19:01:48

I have some Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) in my prairie patch in Victoria, Carver County.

Posted by: Dan Carlson - Chisago County-Wild River State Park
on: 2023-09-18 23:30:36

Chisago County-in WRSP...Pioneer Loop wetland area on north and east sides of pond, also in Amador Prairie northeast (north of the Nevers Dam Trail). Part of Prairie Care species collection started by former Park Naturalist Dave Crawford in 1993.

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