Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hoary Mountain Mint

Hoary Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum incanum) is a native herbaceous plant Native to Eastern North America as far west as Tennessee and Illinois. The genus name Pycnanthemum means "dense flower-clusters" in Greek. This perennial is in the mint family and grows up to 6 feet in height. The tiny pale lavender blooms appear from July to September and are favored by butterflies, bees and other nectar loving insects. The stems are covered in a white downy substances and the leaves appear frosted. In Vermont and New Hampshire this plant is listed as endangered and efforts are in place to monitor that last remaining locations within these two states. It is also listed as endangered in Ontario where there is only two remaining locations known for this species in oak savannas in Burlington. In other areas where this plant occurs it can often become invasive and spreads by rhizomes. It is predominantly found in woods, thickets, open fields and along hills. It is presumed that it earned its common name of Mountain Mint from its preferred habitat of hill ground. 

As with other plants in the mint family it is often used in teas. When crushed this plant gives off a strong aroma. Mountain Mint contains tannin which is often used as an astringent. 

The Choctaw put the mashed leaves in warm water, which the patient drank, and which was poured over the head to relieve headaches. For patients who were sickly all the time, the leaves were mashed in water, the doctor took a mouthful of water, and blew it onto the patient, three times on the head, three times on the back, and three times on the chest. Before the next sunrise, the patient was bathed in the medicine.*

The Koasati mashed the leaves in water, and used the water to treat laziness. The patient bathed his face in the cold water and drank it. For nosebleeds, the plant was wetted, and put up into the nostrils to stop the bleed. The roots were boiled along with Black Willow, and drunk to relieve headache.*