Mountain mint was one of the fascinating new plants I saw yesterday when I visited the beautiful and inspiring Wildside Cottage gardens in Conway. According to an Illinois Wildflowers page “Many insects are strongly attracted to the flowers, including various bees, wasps, flies, small butterflies, and beetles. Typical visitors from these groups include honeybees, Cuckoo bees, Halictid bees, Sphecid wasps, Eumenine wasps, bee flies, Tachinid flies, Wedge-shaped beetles, and Pearl Crescent butterflies. Most of these insects seek nectar. Mammalian herbivores and many leaf-chewing insects apparently find the mint fragrance of the leaves and stems repugnant, and rarely bother this plant.”
The mountain mint plants I saw at Wildside were covered with insect pollinators. I couldn’t begin to identify them all myself, but I could see there were lots of different types of insects, large and small. I was also interested to find that as attractive as these mints are to pollinators, deer don’t like them very much. Maybe I should plant some next to my Asiatic lilies. Maybe that would save those beautiful blossoms for me.
Mountain mint’s Latin name is Pycnanthemum , which is in the mint family, and related to bee balm. No surprise then that it is good for tea, too.