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August Flora Spotlight:
Dotted Horsemint, Monarda puntata 

Dotted Horsemint
Monarda puntata 

Monarda punctata is one of the more unusual monardas. This species has rather unusual-looking flowers and attractive bracts. It is easily distinguished from most monarda species by its multiple whorls of flowers on the same stem, cream-colored and purple spotted corollas, narrow leaves and pink to lavender bracts.   The plant’s botanical name: Monarda is for Nicholas Monardes (1493-1588), a Spanish physician and botanist, who mentioned this flower in his 1569 work on the flora of North America called “Joyfull Newes Out of The Newe Founde Worlde”. 

This native grows along roadsides, in old fields, thin woods and in disturbed areas. Dotted horsemint likes full sun and is more drought 
tolerant than many other Monarda. However it will flower more profusely if given water during dry periods. 

The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract honeybees, bumblebees, miner bees and plasterer bees. Butterflies also visit the flowers for the nectar.  The oregano-scented foliage is repugnant to mammalian herbivores and rarely consumed by them.  Whether used in your perennial border, at the edge of the woods or in an herb garden Dotted Horsemint will brighten up your garden from late summer until the first frost.

Native Americans made a tea from the leaves of this monarda to treat flu, colds and fever. Today we use the leaves in place of Greek oregano. The dried floral heads are also used in arrangements and sachets.

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