The Georgia Native Plant Society is pleased to announce that our Plant of the Year for 2020 is Southern mountainmint (Pycnanthemum pycnanthemoides). Thanks to all who participated in this year’s event.
Scientific name: Pycnanthemum pycnanthemoides
Common name: Southern mountainmint
Plant type: Perennial
Southern mountainmint (Pycnanthemum pycnanthemoides) is native to fields and open woodlands throughout Georgia. Thriving in full sun or partial shade, it grows 3-6’ tall, and has simple, opposite, lanceolate leaves. Both the leaf undersides and the stems are hairy. In summer and early autumn, Southern mountainmint looks like it has been frosted liberally with confectioner’s sugar, as its upper leaves are covered in short, curly white hairs that appear almost silvery in the sunlight. From June through August, each stem is topped by a head (about 1” across) of tiny, tightly clustered, irregularly shaped, white flowers with pinkish-purple markings. These flowers typically do not all open at the same time, but blossom here and there progressively over the flowerhead, attracting bees and butterflies throughout the summer. The plant is also a forage food for birds, which like its seeds. Mountainmints are in the Lamiaceae family, and have many characteristics in common with true mints: square stems, aromatic leaves, hardiness, drought tolerance, medicinal properties, and a tendency to spread. In the garden, give Southern mountainmint lots of room. It makes a beautiful background plant for shorter species with dark foliage or bright flowers.
Credits: Text by Valerie Boss. Photos by Michael Strickland, © 2019 Michael Strickland (reproduce only with permission).