Flower of the Day: Horse Balm

Collinsonia canadensis; Lamiaceae (mint family)

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The Cabin John Trail irritates me.  It’s overused and in poor condition, treacherous when wet, sometimes smelling from the sewer main it follows… and yet I’ve found some great plants there.  On August 7 I walked along the stream looking for goatsbeard (FOTD June 9), wanting to see what it looked like in seed (still pretty impressive), when I spied something else growing out of the rocks over the creek.  Something I’d never seen before, or even heard of.

I love when that happens.

Horse balm is a big plant, growing to five feet tall and three feet across.

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The leaves have a pleasant scent (as so many mints do); the plant was used medicinally by Native Americans and settlers.  It’s native to eastern US and Canada, and endangered in Wisconsin.

Here’s what the goatsbeard looked like, by the way:

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