Blephilia hirsuta (Pursh) Benth. - Wood Mint

Blephilia hirsuta plant

Family - Lamiaceae

Stems - To 1.5m tall, hirsute, 4-angled, hollow, erect, from rhizomes, with fibrous roots, herbaceous, single or multiple from base, branching above or single.

Leaves - Opposite, decussate, petiolate, typically ovate, serrate, pubescent above, densely pubescent below and hirsute on veins, to +/-8cm long, +/-4cm broad, acuminate. Petiole to 2.5cm long, hirsute.

Blephilia hirsuta leaves

Inflorescence - Dense terminal verticillasters numbering from 1 to 6. Each verticillaster subtended by small hirsute foliaceous bracts to +/-1cm long, 5-6mm broad. Pedicels 1.5mm long, hirsute.

Blephilia hirsuta inflorescence

Flowers - Corolla bilabiate, white with purple spotting internally, hirsute. Tube to 8mm long. Upper lip single lobed, 3mm long, glabrous internally. Lower lip 3-lobed, 4.5mm long, 3-4mm broad, glabrous internally. Central lobe thin, with parallel margins, emarginate to shallowly lobed at apex, longer than lateral lobes. Stamens 2, exserted from upper lip. Filaments white, glabrous, adnate near apex of corolla tube, 6mm long. Anthers 1mm long, purplish-brown. Style 1cm long, glabrous, white, exserted. Stigma 2-lobed. Ovary of 4 glabrous white nutlets. Calyx bilabiate, hirsute. Calyx tube to to 3.5mm long, with 13 nerves. Upper lip 3-lobed. Lobes 3mm long, attenuate, green. Lower lip 2-lobed. Lobes attenuate, 1.1mm long, dark purple.

Blephilia_hirsuta_flowers

Flowering - May - September.

Habitat - Shaded slopes, rich woods, ravines.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This plant, like many species in the family, is very fragrant when bruised or crushed. It is a favorite forage item of the local insect population and authors have noted that it is hard to find a plant which has not been browsed. I was lucky to find the beautiful cluster of plants photographed above.
The plant shown is variety hirsuta. Steyermark notes a second variety, v. glabrata Fern., in which the stems and leaves are typically glabrous, but this variety is not recorded from Missouri.
Another species, B. ciliata (L.) Benth., (found in the "Blue Flowers Opposite" section of this website), is similar but is typically shorter, has lanceolate leaves, and has pale bluish flowers. While B. hirsuta is found scattered throughout the state, B. ciliata is found mainly in the eastern 2/3 of the state except in the south where it covers the entire range of Missouri.

Photographs taken off Northwood Rd., Platte County, MO., 6-25-00, in the Ozark Scenic Riverways, Shannon County, MO., 6-28-03, and in the Skyline Wildlife Management Area, AL., 6-25-05.


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