This neat little shrub is another of our purchases from Wilcox Nursery last weekend. It's called Georgia Basil or Georgia Calamint (Calamintha georgiana). While it is native to Florida, it's very rare here, found only in a few of the northern counties. It's much more common throughout much of zone 8, including Alabama and Georgia (as you might expect from the name).
Calamint is a member of the Lamiaceae family, which includes culinary herbs like mint and basil. Interestingly, that's exactly what Calamint smells like - a combination of mint and basil. It can be used as seasoning in cooking, or even in making teas.
Practical uses aside, look at these little flowers! Though calamint supposedly blooms only in the fall, ours has one stem covered in blooms right now, and truly it was these little flowers that made us notice the plant in the first place. The flowers themselves are very attractive to bees and smaller butterflies, making it a nice addition to the wildlife garden.
Calamint prefers sandy well-drained soil, and will tolerate full to part sun. Since we live in zone 9b, a little to the south of its common range, we chose to plant it in only part sun, thinking the full sun of summer might be a bit too much for it. It's described as an evergreen, growing to about 2 feet maximum, so it's perfect in the corner of the butterfly garden. We look forward to seeing it this fall when, we've been promised, it will be completely covered in delightful blooms. All in all, a great little native that we're glad to add to My Florida Backyard!