Hoary Mountain Mint – Pycnanthemum incanum

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As a general rule, hummingbirds crowd at the feeder which we have hung on at one corner of the porch where we have our meals in the summertime.  For a few days we hardly saw the little birds.  One or two would come to the feeder and fleetingly look at it, then fly off to the left.  After a few days I was intrigued and followed the bird’s flight path to see where it was going. Just to the left of the porch is where I had planted some Hoary Mountain Mint.  It has become a huge bush and the hummingbirds were fluttering around it enjoying its nectar.  After a few days they returned to the feeder and I investigated the bush wondering why they were no longer enjoying its nectar. It remains a mystery.  What I did see were many bumblebees and bees.  Tried as I might, I could not photograph a bumblebee as it went from flower to flower that I could include in the blog.

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HOARY MOUNTAIN MINT (Pycnanthemum incanum)   belongs to the Mint family

Hoary Mountain Mint is a real eye catcher.  It is also called “Snow of the Mountains” because of the whitish leaves towards the end of the stem which end in flowers ranging from white to purple.   It grows conspicuously on roadsides and open meadows where there is a lot of sun.

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Mountain mints are in the Mint family ( Lamiaceae ) and belong to the genus Pycnanthemum, the translation of which means “compact flower”. There are at least three species of these mountain mints on the property, and perhaps more.  All of the mints have these compact flowers, but they differ from plant to plant.  Could what I think of as being “Hoary mint” really be Loomis’ Mountain Mint?  It is hard to say.  Books do not give you a side by side comparison of the different species in the different genus which makes it difficult for an amateur to decide  (remembering that the word “amateur” is a French words meaning “love of”).  I love all the plants on the property and the area, but it is difficult sometimes to figure out just what is growing.

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Closeup of a Mountain mint flower

According to Foster & Duke, tea made from this mint’s leaves was used for cold symptoms and to relieve gas.  Indians washed their inflamed penis with it and made a poultice for headaches.

For a PDF page, click here: Hoary Mountain Mint

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