Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Wildflower by Any Other Name

What is that pretty purple wildflower? Which one? The one that has tiers of flowers stacked on the stem like wedding cake layers. Oh, that’s Horsemint.

Horsemint ? Someone else told me they thought it was Lemon beebalm.

It is…it is also Purple horsemint, Lemon mint, Plains horsemint, and Lemon horsemint. Many names for one plant, Monarda Citriodora (Lamiaceae).

The Horsemint has been glorious at the Refuge for the past few weeks. The blooms range from purple to lavender, with colored bracts. Now the flower heads are turning brown, preparing to shed seeds for next year’s crop.

An annual that stands about 1- 2 feet tall, Horsemint has lemon scented leaves and attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. The plant can tolerate drought, making it ideal for our area!

Whatever name you use, Horsemint is a wildflower all can enjoy each spring.

For more information about wildflowers and other aspects of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, see the official website. The Friends of Hagerman website has info on activities and events as well as photo albums of wildflowers and wildlife at the Refuge.

Text by Sue Malnory; photo by Dr. Wayne Meyer

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