Friday, January 13, 2012

Green in Winter: Monarda punctata, Plant Quiz Solved!

Congratulations to Andrew "The Commander" Blackburn for correctly identifying the winter leaves of Monarda punctata, Horse Mint. A common plant of dry sand in the dunes region of Indiana, this attractive mint produces pale yellow flowers with magenta spots (punctata = dotted). Upper bracts of the plant are pale pinkish or lavender and get a lot more attention than the flowers, which also are attractive. The entire plant has an extremely good minty smell, even the brunnescent, dried inflorescence in winter.

Posted earlier: Can you name this plant? It was photographed near Portage, Indiana on January 8, 2012. Good luck! I have no idea what the white blotches are on the leaves, but my guess is fungal growth.

This is how the plant looked in August, 2011 at Ogden Dunes, Indiana.

5 comments:

Cdr said...

Is it an overwintering Phryma leptostachya

Agrimony Tony said...

could it be verbena stricta

Keith said...

Both excellent ideas, Andrew and Tony, but it's not either of those. These winter leaves look very different from the summer leaves of this plant. The colony had an abundance of dried inflorescences, which I purposely excluded from the photo. One clue: these leaves have a VERY distinctive smell.

Cdr said...

is it our sand-loving friend Monarda punctata?

Cdr said...

Thanks for the hint Keith! Monarda was one of the plants I initially thought it could have been but I could have sworn I was seeing some Phryma seed clustered on the ground in the lower right foreground of the photo and that this was your clue. Should have known soil wasn't quite right for Phryma though - thanks for putting my old brain to work and helping me learn. And thanks to all those great botanists out there who didn't check Get Your Botany On! for a few days.