Hairy Wood Mint is a herbaceous native perennial Native to Eastern North America. Hairy Wood Mint has a long bloom duration and can form dense colonies in open woods and along the forest edge. A nice source of nectar and pollen make Hairy Wood Mint a great native plant beneficial to bees. and other pollinators. The leaves will give off a mint smell/aroma when crushed. Although it is not commonly used as a food.
We can file this plant article under ‘what the heck plant is that?’ Yes, another walk in nature, another plant identification opportunity! This time I’m in a mixed hardwood open forest that borders cornfields in Iowa……and I see dozens and dozens of an interesting looking flower. What looks like fuzzy-flowery rings on a stalk, is Hairy Wood Mint, also known as Blephilia hirsuta. I found it in a rocky hardwood forest, all along the tree line and extending into the woods some distance. It seemed to be along every deer trail and path. But only in areas that would be partially shaded from the sun.
Hairy Wood Mint Facts
- It is hardy from zone 4-8. Check you USDA gardening zone here.
- The Native Range of Hairy Wood Mint is from Northern border of Arkansas, Alabama, through North Carolina, and North to Canada.
- It’s a member of the mint family, lamiaceae.
- As a member of the mint family, it will spread via underground roots known as rhizomes. This allows it to form colonies.
- Hairy Wood Mint is one of the plants negatively effected by invasive species such as Lonicera Maackii, in that seed germination is inhibited
- Bees and other pollinators frequently visit Hairy Wood Mint, making it a valuable flower for the bees.
- Hairy Wood Mint has been cited as a high-value species for Monarchs as a food source that is usually, and readily available during their migrations
- Hairy Pagoda Plant is another common name for Hairy Wood Mint
- The Cherokee Indians used this plant medicinally.
The Scientific Name of Hairy Wood Mint is Blephilia hirsuta
Hairy Wood Mint will grow up to 3′ tall (1 m), often in colonies as it is in the Mint Family (Hence the common name). I find them in open woods or even along deer trails in deeper woods. The blooms are quite unique and easy to identify once you have a picture in your mind.
Stalk / Stem
As a member of the mint family, the stalk will be green, square, or 4-angled. As the common name suggests there will be white hairs along the stalk. There may be some branching along the main stalk too.
There will be opposite leaves approximately 1″x4″ (2.5 cm-10 cm) that are lanceolate (spear-head) shaped. The edges/margins will be serrated and the surface will be veined.
Along the main stalk there will be clusters of flowers that wrap around the stem near the top. These will typically be located at the upper pairs of opposite leaves, or near there. The small flowers are about 1/2″ long (12 mm) and remind me of bee balm flowers. They are tubular and white with purple dots.
It will bloom for about a month to six weeks during Summertime. After blooming several seed heads will form where the flowers were.
Hairy Wood Mint has fibrous roots, and also rhizome roots. It will spread via rhizomes and make colonies in the wild.
Growing Conditions Blephilia hirsuta
Hairy Wood Mint will grow best in partial sun / light shade conditions. For moisture, it will do just fine in moist to medium soil. Soil that is heavy with organic matter is also a benefit for this plant.
How to care for Hairy Wood Mint
If grown in partial sun and medium to moist soil, this plant will not require any special maintenance. However, I would recommend that you plant it inside of a pot with the bottom cut out, directly in the ground. This is because of the rhizome roots that will send runners in all direction, giving you many new ‘volunteer’ plants. But, if you are going for a wild look, then never mind – RELEASE the Hairy Wood Mint!
Pulling unwanted plants (it’s a mint) and making sure powdery mildew should be the only chores associated with this plant. Just plant it in conditions it prefers.
How to Establish Hairy Wood Mint from Seed
Hairy Wood Mint seeds are very tiny and will require light to germinate. So, only a light covering of soil is required. The seeds will need a cold moist stratification period of 60 days. So, winter sowing or utilizing the paper-towel/refrigerator stratification method will be necessary.
Hairy Wood Mint would be a good addition to any pollinator, butterfly, or rain garden. Just make sure you account for the spreading rhizome roots. The flower is really interesting to look at, if not overly showy. And it does provide some great benefit for pollinators by having a long bloom time.
This plant is visited by bees, particularly bumblebees, honey bees, and many other native varieties. It is very popular, and will also draw in some butterflies and small skippers.
Pests and diseases
Hairy Wood Mint is deer and rabbit resistant, like most members of the mint family. This is because of the stronger taste of the foliage.
Powdery Mildew will effect this plant though. So, make sure you keep it thinned to allow for some air-movement. That will be to help prevent or reduce the effect of any potential fungus.
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