Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial plant is 2-4' tall. It has green or brown stems that are four-angled and covered with white hairs. These stems frequently branch and achieve a slender bushy effect. The opposite leaves are up to 3" long and ¾" long. They are light or whitish green, pubescent on both sides, lanceolate in shape, and have smooth edges. The foliage has a mint fragrance. The small white flowers are in dense clusters toward the apex of the plant. Each flower is about ¼" long, 2-lipped, and usually has small purple dots near the throat. The blooming period occurs during mid- or late summer and lasts about a month. Each flower produces 4 tiny seeds, which are distributed to some extent by the wind. The root system consists of a branching taproot, as well as short rhizomes that cause the plant to form small colonies.
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Comments

Some authorities refer to this plant as Pycnanthemum verticillatum var. pilosum. The appearance of Hairy Mountain Mint is similar to other members of the genus, but it has hairier leaves and stems. The common name 'Mountain Mint' is something of a misnomer, as the majority of Pycnanthemum spp., including this one, are usually found in prairies or woodland areas that aren't particularly hilly or mountainous. The leaves of this plant can be boiled in water to make an excellent mint tea. Return
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Hairy Mountain Mint occurs occasionally in central Illinois, but is uncommon or absent in the southern and northern regions of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include mesic black soil prairies, rocky upland forests, thickets, and limestone glades. It is not normally observed in disturbed areas.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Pycnanthemum pilosum Nutt.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Occurs in southern Ontario and from Michigan to Mississippi west to Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma (Kartesz 1999). Also occurs to the east from New York (historical) to Massachusetts south to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia (historical) where it is probably adventive (Steyermark 1963, McCance 1984, Great Plains Flora Association 1986, Kartesz 1999).

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Hairy Mountain Mint occurs occasionally in central Illinois, but is uncommon or absent in the southern and northern regions of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include mesic black soil prairies, rocky upland forests, thickets, and limestone glades. It is not normally observed in disturbed areas.
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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Hairy Mountain Mint in Illinois

Pycnanthemum pilosum (Hairy Mountain Mint)
(Short-tongued bees usually seek nectar, but occasionally collect pollen; Rhipiphorid beetles are parasitic on other flower visitors; other insects suck nectar; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Hilty, Moure & Hurd, and Clinebell as indicated below)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus impatiens (Cl), Bombus pensylvanica sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn; Anthophoridae (Epeolini): Epeolus bifasciatus sn fq, Triepeolus concavus sn fq, Triepeolus remigatus sn fq, Triepeolus simplex sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes agilis sn, Melissodes comptoides sn fq, Svastra obliqua obliqua sn; Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys germana sn fq, Coelioxys octodentata sn, Coelioxys sayi sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn, Megachile latimanus sn, Megachile mendica sn, Megachile petulans sn fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn fq, Agapostemon virescens sn fq, Augochloropsis metallica metallica (MH), Halictus confusus sn fq, Halictus ligatus sn fq, Halictus parallelus sn fq, Halictus rubicunda sn, Lasioglossum cinctipes sn, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum zephyrus sn; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes cressonii sn, Sphecodes dichroa sn fq; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn; Andrenidae (Panurginae): Calliopsis andreniformis sn cp fq

Wasps
Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Bembix nubilipennis fq, Bicyrtes quadrifasciata, Bicyrtes ventralis, Glenostictia pictifrons, Stictia carolina; Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Anacrabro ocellatus, Lestica confluentus, Oxybelus mexicanus; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Tachytes aurulenta, Tachytes distinctus; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris compacta, Cerceris fumipennis fq, Eucerceris zonata, Philanthus gibbosus, Philanthus ventilabris fq; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi, Ammophila nigricans, Ammophila pictipennis fq, Ammophila procera, Eremnophila aureonotata fq, Isodontia apicalis, Prionyx atrata, Sphex ichneumonea (Rb, H), Sphex nudus; Sapygidae: Sapyga interrupta; Tiphiidae: Myzinum quinquecincta fq; Scoliidae: Scolia bicincta; Vespidae: Polistes dorsalis, Polistes fuscata; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus annulatus, Euodynerus boscii, Euodynerus foraminatus fq, Leionotus scrophulariae, Leptochilus republicanus, Parancistrocerus vagus fq, Pterocheilus quinquefasciatus, Stenodynerus anormis, Stenodynerus fundatiformis, Stenodynerus histrionalis; Pompilidae: Entypus fulvicornis; Chrysididae: Hedychrum wiltii

Flies
Stratiomyidae: Stratiomys meigenii; Syrphidae: Eristalis dimidiatus, Eristalis tenax, Eristalis transversus, Syritta pipiens fq; Bombyliidae: Chrysanthrax cypris, Exoprosopa fascipennis fq, Exoprosopa meigenii, Systoechus vulgaris; Conopidae: Physocephala tibialis, Physoconops brachyrhynchus fq, Thecophora occidensis, Zodion fulvifrons, Zodion obliquefasciatum; Tachinidae: Archytas analis fq, Archytas aterrima, Copecrypta ruficauda, Cylindromyia euchenor, Gymnoclytia immaculata, Gymnoclytia occidua, Phasia purpurascens, Phorantha magna (Rb, MS), Siphona geniculata, Spallanzania hesperidarum, Trichopoda pennipes; Sarcophagidae: Helicobia rapax, Sphixapata trilineata; Calliphoridae: Cochliomyia macellaria, Phormia regina; Muscidae: Stomoxys calcitrans

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Libytheana carinenta (H), Phyciodes tharos; Pieridae: Pieris rapae (H), Pontia protodice

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Epargyreus clarus, Erynnis martialis

Moths
Sesiidae: Melittia cucurbitae (H)

Beetles
Rhipiphoridae: Macrosiagon dimidiata lgf, Macrosiagon limbata lgf

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Faunal Associations

The flowers are very attractive to many kinds of long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, and flies. To a lesser extent, butterflies, skippers, and beetles are attracted to the flowers. These insects seek nectar, although Halictine bees also collect pollen. Because of the frequent visitors to the flowers, the parasitic Macrosiagon spp. (Wedge-Shaped Beetles) are especially likely to be found on the flowers. These insects lay their eggs on the flowers, and the larvae attach themselves to bees or wasps and hitch-hike a ride back to the brood chamber, where they feed on the immature larvae and food stores of the host insect. The seeds are too small to have much value to birds. Mammalian herbivores also display little interest in this plant, probably because of the strong minty fragrance of the foliage.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread in the eastern United States but only native to the western portion of its range. Found in a variety of habitats including prairies, woodlands, rocky slopes, stream valleys, and roadsides (Steyermark 1963, Great Plains Flora Association 1986, Voss 1996). Frequent in the center of its native range, becoming rare at the edges.

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Threats

Comments: Threats in Ohio may include overshading due to forest succession and competition from fertile hybrids (McCance 1984).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun and moist to slightly dry conditions. Growth is best in fertile loamy soil; it also flourishes in rocky soil. Sometimes transplanted plants become afflicted with rust, but these leaves soon fall off and are replaced by healthy leaves. During summer droughts, the leaves of stressed-out plants may become afflicted with rust, or the lower leaves may turn yellow and fall off their stems. Generally, this plant is easy to grow, especially if it receives adequate water during summer droughts or some protection from the afternoon sun.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Formerly recognized as the distinct species Pycnanthemum pilosum. Now considered to be a variety of Pycnanthemum verticillatum (Cooperrider 1984, Kartesz 1999).

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