Another day, another rain storm in the woods. I think I might be growing mold on my body since it’s getting harder and harder to dry things out every day. Still, some nice — if humid — time before and after, climbing the one trail that takes you to the top of the mountain just to get some exercise. Hairy Wood Mint (found by the water, not the mountain top). There was so much fungal action, if only I had someone to tell me what the hell they all were.
Hairy Wood Mint is a na…tive erect perennial forb growing with square hairy stems from one to three feet high with little branching.
The leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to egg shaped with hairy surfaces, a few coarse teeth on the margins which usually have marginal hair. Bases are tapered, tips are acute, short-stalked in the upper stem, lower leaves on longer stalks. They have a noticeable aroma when crushed. Each pair of stem leaves is rotated 90 degrees from the adjacent pairs.
The inflorescence is a distinctly separated grouping of 1 to 6 verticillasters in the leaf axils of the upper stem and one at the top of the stem – also on any stem side branches. (A verticillaster, common in the mint family, is where the flowers look like a whorl arrangement but are actually in cymes that rise from the axils of opposite bracts.) At the base of each verticillaster are a pair of bracts – resembling small leaves. Only a few flowers in each cyme open at one time.
The flowers have a short calyx in an irregular tube shape, with 5 pointed teeth – 3 longer on the upper lip and 2 shorter on the lower, and 13 noticeable nerve lines. The corolla is pale purple with darker spots and composed of two lips, the lower lip divided into 3 lobes (and this is where the spots appear) with the center lobe much longer than the two lateral lobes, while the upper lip has two united lobes, looking like one, and acts like a hood. The outside of both the corolla and the calyx is hairy. There are four stamens in pairs of different length. The longer pair are exserted from just beneath the upper lip. Anthers are dark purple at maturity. There is a longer single white style, also exserted, with a two-lobed stigma.
Seed: Fertile flowers produce a open capsule containing 4 ovoid nutlets. The seeds require 60 days of cold stratification for germination.
Habitat: Hairy Wood Mint grows from a fibrous and rhizomatous root system which can form good clumps. It prefers richer loamy soils, partial sun to light shade and wet to wet-mesic moisture conditions. It is a woodland plant