Friday, January 16, 2015

Flower Friday: Wild pennyroyal adds an aromatic accent to dry landscapes.

Photo by Wayne Matchett
Wild pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida)

Wild pennyroyal is a low-growing, evergreen, herbaceous to woody shrub. Its small, 2-lipped flowers are lavender to purple with dark purple spots on the lower lips. They are borne in dense, showy clusters. Leaves are tiny, needle-like with entire margins, and oppositely arranged. The entire plant is delightfully aromatic, particularly when crushed. its leaves can also be brewed into a minty tea.

Wild pennyroyal typically flowers in late winter through spring, but can bloom year-round. It occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby and pine flatwoods, sandhills, dry prairies and ruderal areas. Flowers are attractive to a variety of bees and butterflies.

Piloblephis rigida is the only species in its genus. The name comes from the Greek words pilo (hairy) and blephis (eyelid), referring to the tiny, soft hairs that coat the plant, and rigida (rigid), which refers to its stiff branches.

Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Hardiness: Peninsular Florida (Zones 8B-10B)
Soil: Dry, well-drained, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: 1-2 feet tall with equal spread
Garden tips: Wild pennyroyal works well as a groundcover or as a border planting. It remains attractive, even when not in flower. It is easily propagated by cuttings and seeds, and is drought-tolerant.

Wild pennyroyal is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where wild pennyroyal occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2324.

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