Scarlet Calamint, Beach Botany


Scarlet Calamint, Calamintha coccinea, is a small woody perennial shrub that can reach a height of 3 to 4 feet. The main stem has a diameter of ¼ inch. Multiple side branches are smaller. Leaves are arranged in pairs. Leaf shape is elliptic. Length ¼ to ½ inches. Leaf pairs are widely spaced. Margins entire, however, the margins tend to curl under. Color is a deep green.

Coccinea is a member of the Lamiaceae  (Mint) family which has the common two lipped, five lobed tubular flower. The upper lip has two fused lobes that arch over a deep tube. The lower lip has three fused lobes with a large dorsal lobe and two lateral lobes. Four stamens project out of the tube. Female sex organs are deeper in the tube. Flowers originate in the leaf axils. The inflorescence is solitary. The total length of the flower is around 2 inches. Color is a rich red. Fruit is a nutlet. Blooming occurs all year.

Habitats are in scrubs, sand hills and dunes in eight counties in the central peninsula and the western panhandle. There are four species in the Genus Calamintha. All are native to Florida. The specimen in the picture was found in a very hot scrub in Citrus County.


Photo by James Rodwell