Botanical Name: Blephilia hirsuta
Species: B. hirsuta
*B. brevipes Raf.
*B. hirsuta f. albiflora House.B. hirsuta var. glabra Fernald.
*B. hirsuta var. hirsuta.
*B. lanceolata Raf.
*B. nepetoides Raf. Monarda hirsuta Pursh
Common Names: Hairy wood-mint or Hairy pagoda plant
Habitat: Blephilia hirsuta is native to eastern North America. It grows well in rich moist soil in hardwood forests, along streams and rivers, in forest openings and thickets underlain by limestone, and is occasionally found near wetlands. The plant likes partial sun or light shade. Forests with infrequent, low-intensity disturbances (i.e., gap dynamics) are idea.
Blephilia hirsuta is a perennial plant growing 1-3′ tall . It is unbranched or sparingly branched. The central stem is light to dark green, 4-angled, and covered with long white hairs. The opposite leaves are up to 3½” long and 1½” across. They are ovate or lanceolate-ovate in shape, serrated along their margins, and often ciliate. The lower surface of each leaf is light to medium green and densely pubescent to nearly glabrous; in the latter case, there are scattered hairs along the central and some of the lateral veins. The upper leaf surface is medium to dark green; it has either scattered appressed hairs or it is glabrous. The petioles are about ½-1¼” long and covered with spreading hairs. Small secondary leaves often develop from the axils of the leaves on the central stem.
The central stem (and any major side stems) terminates in several whorls of flowers. The whorls of flowers occur above the axils of the upper leaves, or they may occur above pairs of leafy bracts that are sometimes inconspicuous. The flowers in each whorl are densely crowded together. Each flower is up to ½” long, consisting of a short-tubular calyx with 5 teeth, a 2-lipped corolla, 2 exerted stamens, and a slender style that is divided at its tip. The calyx is light green and exceedingly hairy along the margins of its teeth; the upper teeth are longer than the lower teeth. The corolla is light purple or white and it has purple dots on the lower lip; the outer surface of this corolla is finely pubescent on the upper side. The lower lip is divided into 3 lobes, while the upper lip functions as a protective hood. The blooming period occurs during the summer and lasts about 1-1½ months. Each flower is replaced by 4 ovoid nutlets. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Clonal colonies of plants often develop from the rhizomes.
The flowers are pollinated primarily by long-tongued bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, little carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.), mason bees (Osmia spp.), leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.), cuckoo bees (Epeolus spp.), long-horned bees (Melissodes spp.), and Anthophorid bees (Anthophora spp.). Other visitors of the flowers include Halictid bees, wasps, bee flies (Bombyliidae), thick-headed flies (Conopidae), Syrphid flies, butterflies, and skippers. These insects seek nectar primarily, although some of the Halictid bees collect pollen and some flies feed on the pollen. There are few records of insects feeding destructively on Hairy Wood Mint, although a polyphagous aphid, Aphis coreopsidis, uses this plant as a summer host. The foliage probably isn’t attractive to mammalian herbivores as a food source.
Cultivation: The preference is partial sun to light shade, moist to mesic conditions, and a rich loamy soil with decaying leaf mold. This species also grows in soil that is somewhat rocky.
Edible Uses: Leaves. Minty leaves eaten raw and used in teas. The fresh or dried leaves are used for tea .
Medicinal Uses: Blephilia hirsuta has some beneficial medicinal properties, given that a related species (Blephilia ciliata) was used by the Cherokee as a poultice to treat headaches.
Blephilia hirsuta is often planted in gardens for its beauty and pleasant aroma; when the leaves are crushed or damaged they give off a minty scent. It is a good plant for food forests, wild, native plant or open woodland gardens.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.