Botanical Name: Pycnanthemum virginianum
Species: P. virginianum
Synonyms: Satureja virginiana , Koellia virginiana.
Common Names: Virginia Mountain Mint,American mountain mint
Habitat: Pycnanthemum virginianum is native to Eastern N. America – Virginia to New England, north to North Dakota. It grows on the gravelly shores, meadows, dry to wet thickets etc.
Pycnanthemum virginianum is an erect, many-branched perennial herbaceous plant up to 3′ tall and branching frequently, often with a bushy appearance. The green or reddish stems are strongly four-angled and have scattered white hairs along the ridges. The opposite leaves are up to 2½” long and narrowly lanceolate or linear. They are sessile, and have smooth margins. The largest leaves are ¼ – ½” across. When damaged, the foliage releases a strong mint scent. Numerous flattened heads of small white flowers (often with purple dots) occur at the ends of the upper stems.
Each head is up to ¾” across and can contain up to 50 flowers.
However, only a few of these are in bloom at the same time, beginning with the outer circle of flowers and ending towards the center. Each tubular flower is about 1/8″ long and 2-lipped. The blooming period occurs during the middle of summer and lasts about a month. Each small flower produces 4 tiny, finely pitted, dull black seeds. These seeds are distributed to some extent by the wind. The root system produces rhizomes, which spread a short distance from the mother plant. Soon, a small colony of plants are formed vegetatively.
The preference is full or partial sun, and moist to average conditions. The soil can contain loam, sand, clay, or gravel – this plant is not fussy about soil texture. During drought, the lower leaves will turn yellow and fall off. This plant is easy to grow, and less subject to foliar disease than some other mints, such as Monarda spp. However, stressed out plants sometimes succumb to rust.
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If there are sufficient seeds they can be sown in an outdoor seedbed in April. Division in spring.
Edible parts are flower buds and leaves, they are eaten – raw or cooked. A mint-like flavour, they make a nice addition to salads or can be used as a condiment. The fresh or dried leaves are brewed into a refreshing mint-like tea.
A tea made from the leaves is alterative, diaphoretic and carminative. A poultice of the leaves is used in the treatment of headaches. The tea is also used in the treatment of menstrual disorders, indigestion, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers.The flowering stems are cut as flowering begins and they can be used fresh or dried. There is a suggestion that this plant can cause abortions, so it is best not used by pregnant women.
Many insects are strongly attracted to the flowers, including various bees, wasps, flies, small butterflies, and beetles. Typical visitors from these groups include honeybees, Cuckoo bees, Halictid bees, Sphecid wasps, Eumenine wasps, bee flies, Tachinid flies, Wedge-shaped beetles, and Pearl Cresecent butterflies. Most of these insects seek nectar. Mammalian herbivores and many leaf-chewing insects apparently find the mint fragrance of the leaves and stems repugnant, and rarely bother this plant.
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.