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August Flora Spotlight:
Hoary Mountain Mint

Hoary Mountain Mint
Pycnanthemum icanum:

This under-appreciated native plant grows up to 5 ft tall if grown in a sunny spot. It is an adaptable plant and will grow in damp gravel, as well as open woods and meadows, while tolerating a bit of shade in wet thickets and woodlands, fields, and hills, presumably the origin of its common name of Mountain Mint.

Mints tend to be so invasive. With a watchful eye and a shovel, mints can be controlled. Pycnanthemum means "dense flower-clusters" in Greek. It is these flowers that make it a welcomed plant in your garden. They are magnets for all sorts of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. I recently attended a talk that the presenter advocated attracting predator insects to your garden as well as the pollinators for biological control. This plant attracts them all in abundance!

This plant has a clean, minty fragrance which is emitted by the leaves when rubbed or slightly crushed. Also deer dislike it, so it can be useful to plant in areas where they may be unwelcome to browse.

Mountain mint is edible and medicinal. Raw or cooked the flower buds and leaves are edible and have a hot, spicy, mint-like flavor. The fresh or dried leaves can be brewed into a refreshing medicinal tea that is used in alternative medicine for the treatment of menstrual disorders, indigestion, mouth sores and gum disease, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers. Found to be a good natural insecticide, the plant does repel insects and is good for use in the garden. Crushed the flowers and rubbed on clothing to repel insects.

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