Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Lemon Horsemint for Jomamma

Close up of Lemon Horsemint (Monarda citriodora)
Coke County, Texas

I've had a great time looking at Jomamma's West Texas photos (so far she's posted part 1 and part 2) taken while she visited her brother's ranch recently. There were photos of fish, longhorns, vinagroons, tarantulas, fishing, fire arms, breakfast tacos, a pet bobcat, fishing, a stinky dog, er, Stinky the Dog, a tire swing, catching the first fish of the day, and more. Every photo depicts family having a great fun being together. And did I mention, photos of fishing?

And while there, I spied a flower that I wonder if was the one she commented that she wanted to know the name of. I took these photos along the roadside back in May when we went camping. And say, we were fishing, too!

Reading up on this showy native flower, it seems like it should be in every Texas garden. It's supposed to be easy to grow, not picky about soil type, will fill in any unused spaces, and even though it's an annual, should pretty much self-seed. When you crush the leaves they smell lemony (it's part of the mint family) and the First Peoples and Settlers made tea from the boiled leaves.

According to my newly purchased 1928 Texas Wild Flowers by Ellen D. Shulz -- I'm so tickled pink I found a copy -- the beekeepers of Texas at that time considered this plant one of the most important. And if you keep chickens (that would be you, Mom, er, Bobbie) Shulz writes that the dried plant put in the hay of their roosts will keep away mites and fleas.

I also was suprised that Linnaeus himself gave the plant its genus name! Monarda is after the Spanish botanist Nicolas Bautista Monardes who, while never actually visiting the Americas himself, did study them. Ok. I know this last bit is rather botageeky, but I thought it was cool.


Bobbie said...

I love this plant, which has been blooming here very prolifically this year. I love the way the little puffs of flowers go up the stem.

jomamma said...

Thanks Debi, when I saw it I new you'd be able to help identify it. I'll pass this info on to my future sister-in-law to add it to her herb garden. The leaves sprinkled on Stinky's bed may help keep critters away from her to. Don't you just love the Dr. Seuss look of it?

The Green Stone Woman said...

It's like it is a made up flower from a fairytale book. Things in Texas are so unusual, I constantly amazed. It's as strange and wonderful as Australia.

Anonymous said...

This plant looks like a fancy lady's hat. Beautiful color!