Random Plant: Spotted bee balm

Spotted bee balm (Monarda punctata, Lamiaceae) along the Great Marsh Trail. Photographed 08/11/2012 at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana.

A couple of weeks ago I came across this spotted bee balm (Monarda punctata, Lamiaceae) near the edge of the Great Marsh at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Also known as spotted (or dotted) horsemint, this plant prefers dry, sandy soil like that found at Indiana Dunes. Unlike most members of this genus, spotted bee balm grows not only terminal flowers but axillary flowers at the stem/leaf joints as well. This arrangement gives the appearance of the stem rising up through repeating rings of flowers. The flowers themselves are the yellow spotted hood-like structures near the stems. The large white “petals” radiating outward are actually bracts. These big, bright modified leaves help attract pollinators. If you look closely at the leaf in the lower right of the photo, you can see it was expressing intermediate traits between a regular leaf and a bract.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, National Parks, Random Plant and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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