Another hidden gem in My Florida Backyard is in bloom for the first time since we planted it in the spring: Florida Pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida).We purchased this Florida native wildflower during a trip to All Native nursery in Fort Myers, and though it was blooming then, it stopped during the summer's intense heat and has only recently started up again. It spent the summer growing and spreading to about 3 feet wide, though staying about 8 inches tall.
The foliage of this plant has a smell almost like mint crossed with sage, but the flowers have a sweet scent all their own, matched only by their delicate beauty. This plant was rather overshadowed all summer by the nearby Yellowtop (Flaveria linearis), but we recently cut that back and allowed the Florida Pennyroyal to shine.
Florida Pennyroyal (also sometimes called Wild Pennyroyal or False Pennyroyal) shouldn't be confused with several of its close cousins with similar common names. All belong to the family Lamiaceae, but are distinctly different. Mock Pennyroyal (Stachydeoma graveolens) is found in only a few counties in the Florida panhandle, whereas Florida Pennyroyal is found only in peninsular Florida. American False Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides) is found in the Northeastern U.S. but not as far south as Florida. And the most famous Pennyroyal of all, Mentha pulegium, is native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is this pennyroyal that has well known medicinal applications throughout history, beginning with Pliny the Elder in Roman times.
Our own meek little Florida Pennyroyal is a delight in a butterfly garden, and we're glad to put the spotlight on it once again in My Florida Backyard.