Spotted Beebalm, Beach Botany

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The Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata, also goes by another name, “Dotted Horsemint.” Punctata is an herbaceous aromatic perennial that is a member of the Lamiaceae (Mint) Family. The height of punctata ranges from 12” to 3’. Opposite leaves are arranged on erect 4 angle stems. Leaves are widely separated on the stems. Leaves are simple. Length is 4” to 8” at maturity. Leaf shape lanceolate to oblong. Margins can vary between toothed or entire. Both leaves and stems are pubescent.  Crunching the leaves produces a mild fragrance.

The flower construction is delightfully complex. Going up an erect stem there is a whorl of purple leaf-like bracts that subtend a cluster of small two-lipped five-lobed yellow flowers with purple dots and 2 stamens. Bracts are elliptic in shape and about ½” in length. As the plant grows another bract whorl and flower cluster takes its place up the stem. This can be repeated several times. I have a 3’ high “Horsemint” in my garden. At the tips of the erect stems there are as many as 6 to 8 whorls. Nutlets are the fruit. Blooming occurs summer and fall.

Distribution is in just about in every county in the state. Habitats are roadsides, meadows and flood plains. “Dotted Horsemint” is not recognized in the ”Guide to the Vascular Plants in Florida,” however, if you want to call it “Horsemint,” go right ahead.

 

Photo by James Rodwell