Downy Wood Mint Herb
Other Names: Downy Blephilia, Downy Pagoda, Pagodaplant, Woodmint, Monarda ciliata, Ohio horse-mint
Downy Wood Mint Herbal and Edible Use
Downy Wood Mint is edible and medicinal, the aromatic leaves, like peppermint, can be prepared like those of true mints, steeped in hot water, flavor jellies, sauces, dressings, cool drinks and hot tea. The tender basal shoots are used fresh in salads. An infusion of the herb is used in alternative medicine as an alterative (for that run down feeling), analgesic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, carminative and tonic. The medicinal tea is used in the treatment of indigestion, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers. A warm poultice of the leaves will relieve a sinus headache. Chewing the fresh leaves kills bacteria in the mouth and is good for teeth and gums.
Downy Wood Mint Plant Habitat and Description
Downy Wood Mint is a perennial herb native to Eastern North America. It grows from Wisconsin to Vermont, and south to Florida. It is found in dry woods, thickets, fields, clearings and rural roadsides. The plant stands about 3 feet tall the stems are branched opposite. The leaves are light green, whitish downy beneath, opposite, simple, subsessile to short-petiolate, lanceolate ovate and slightly serrate. Downy Wood Mint flowers are white to light blue to purple, arranged in whorls and separated by a row of fringed bracket like round platforms or pagodas, hence the name pagoda plant. There may be as many as 6 to 7 pagodas full of flowers per stem, sometimes weighing the plant and bending it down. The flowers bloom is from May thru September.
How to Grow Downy Wood Mint
Downy Wood Mint prefers well drained fertile soil and partial shade, sow seed in fall as soon as gathered, cover lightly. Downy Wood Mint is very aromatic, it attracts butterflies and bees to the garden.Young shoots are edible. Gather flowers and leaves in bloom, dry for later herb use.
Downy Wood Mint Folklore and History
Downy Wood Mint was used as a ceremonial smudging herb by some Native American tribes, to drive away evil spirits when a person was dying.
Downy Wood Mint Recipe
"Medicinal" tea: To 1 heaping tbls. fresh or 1 tsp. dry herb add 1 cup water steep for 10 min. take hot for coughs, colds, chills and fevers.
Article by Deb Jackson Edits and Photography by Karen Bergeron