Also Known As
Spotted Horsemint
Ringum ["probably derived from Origanum, the genus Oregano] [2]
Witsagwai Wi-Ti ["horse medicine"] [2]
Sholop Tilhi [shoptilhi'li] [sholop, "ghost," tili, "to send away"] [2]
Sholop Tilhi Iskanno [sholop, "ghost," tili, "to send away," iskanno, "smaller"] [2]
Sholop Tilhi Losa' [sholop, "ghost," tili, "to send away," lpsa', "black"] [2]
Shinuktileli [shinuktitleei] [shinuk, sand - probably originally shilup, "ghost"], tileli, "to drive out" [2]
Kofucka Fako [kofutcka rakko, Takko] [kofucka, fragrance, fakko, big or strong] [1]
A-Shem-Bra ["to make sleep; A-zho n, I sleep"] [2] 

Order:   Lamiales
Family:   Lamiaceae
Genus:    Monarda
Species: punctata

Florida n c s

Edible Parts
Flower Leaf Caution
Animal Interaction
Bee Insect Beetle Hummingbird Butterfly Moth
Other Uses
Mug Medicinal Fragrant
These flowers are a pollinator magnet, I swear. Some hot summer day, sit beside a clump of this native wildflower and you should be delighted to see a vast array of butterflies, bees, beetles, and such, nectaring at the gorgeous flowers. Beneficial wasps flock to this plant. Hummingbirds also visit the flowers. Crush a leaf between your fingers and smell this medicinal mint's almost oregano/thyme-like aroma. Dried flowerheads and leaves are added to sachets. The flowers within the inflorescence are absolutely gorgeous. Varying ecotypes (local forms) appear across the state, and I have snapped photos of quite a few variants from St. Augustine to Sarasota. Although the Catawba used it to treat headaches, I have had some of my plant walk attendees complain that the tea from this herb actually gave them a headache. When I asked some of them how much of the dried flowering herb that they used, they said one tablespoon per cup of tea... eeks, that is way too much. This species contains very high amounts of potentially toxic thymol, hence the thyme-like odor, and if you must ingest it, use just a little pinch here and there. On the plus side of thymol, it is a fungicide and bacteriacide if used properly. Try sprinkling a VERY SMALL amount of the fresh finely chopped leaves atop a salad. Steve Christman of floridata uses the dried leaves as one would oregano. Gainesville area plant guide Susan Marynowski, who I respect very much, says that it "really rocks a tomato sauce." Now that I must try! 

CAUTION: DO NOT INGEST WITHOUT CONSULTING A TRAINED HERBALIST = This species contains very high amounts of thymol, as evidenced by tests conducted by Fritzche Brothers labs. THYMOL IN LARGE AMOUNTS CAN BE FATAL. USE THIS PLANT AT YOUR OWN RISK.  
OIL CONTENT: The Complete Technology Book of Essential Oils states that the oil was “distilled on the Gulf Coast of Florida and analyzed in the laboratories of Fritzche Brothers, Inc.”  It had a thymol (phenol) content of 71.5%.  Another test conducted in Texas showed a 61% thymol content.   They go on to state that the oil, which thymol is the main constituent of, is similar in flavor and odor to thyme.  SEE CAUTION ABOVE


STEVE CHRISTMAN OF FLORIDATA WRITES: "I use the leaves as a substitute for oregano." [7]
SUSAN MARYNOWSKI WRITES: "It really rocks a tomato sauce." [9]
GREEN DEANE WRITES: "Some report the leaves can use chopped up and use to flavor salads." [13] 


- Antimicrobial, powerful [8]
- Antiseptic (the thymol within it) [11 via 10]
- Backache [3,5]
- Bacteriacide (the thymol within it) [7]
- Chills [5]
- Colds [7,8,10]
- Coughs, pain relief from [2]
- Delerium, relieves a delirious patient [2]
- Diaphoretic [2,7]
- Diarrhea [10]
- Digestive aid [3]
- Fever [5,7]
- Flu [7,8]
- Fungicide (the thymol within it) [7]
- Headache [2]
- Hookworms [7]
- Kidney Disease [10]
- Menstruation, to bring on late [3]
- Neuralgia [10]
- Rheumatism [2,3]
- Stomachache [10]
- Sudorific [2]
- Vermifuge [13]
- Water Retention [3]
MEDICINAL USES OF THYMOL: Green Deane writes, "Horsemint has the highest thymol content of all the mints." [13] "Essential oils from horsemint are high in thymol, which is an effective fungicide and bactericide and also used to expel hookworms." [7] Antiseptic. [10]
INDIGENOUS MEDICINAL USES: Daniel Austinwrites in Florida Ethnobotany, "An infusion of the plant causes perspiration. Mixed with Aha Labakca [Gnaphalium obtusifolium] it relieves a delirious patient [Swanton, 1928a, Howar 1984]. The Alabama, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek used it to ward off rheumatism and to protect the living [Howard, 1984]. The Catawba used a leaf decoction to relieve headache [King, 1984]. The Osage used it as a sudorific and for pain relief from coughs, ." [2] "Native Americans made a tea from the leaves of spotted horsemint to treat flu, colds and fever. " [7]
OTHER MEDICINAL USES: "It increases sweating." [7] "It was historically used to treat upset stomachs, colds, diarrhea, neuralgia and kidney disease." [10] 
EXTERNAL USES: Green Deane mentions it being used as a "poultice for arthritis." [13]
THE CHESTNUT SCHOOL OF HERBAL MEDICINE WRITES: It "is a powerful anti-microbial, and cold and flu remedy (helps to clear the sinuses, break a fever and overcome infection)." [8]
DEVI PAGAN WRITES: Devi of New Moon Medicinal Gardens in Orlando writes, “This wildcrafted plant is good for rheumatism, water retention, bringing on late periods, aids digestion and relieves back ache. Very wonderful.  Blessed by Mother Nature.  Aho.” [3] 
CARVACROL CONTENT: Another compound, carvacrol, is found in Horsemint. To read about it click here for Green Deane's article on Eat The Weeds. CLICK HERE 


CUT FLOWER: It makes a nice cut flower. [6]
IN SACHETS: Steve Christman of floridata mentions their use in sachets. [7]
TO SCENT A ROOM: Green Deane suggests "hanging leaves in the house leaves a nice scent." [13]
WILDLIFE: These flowers are a pollinator magnet. Some hot summer day, sit beside a clump of this native wildflower and you should be delighted to see a vast array of butterflies, wasps, beetles, and such, nectaring at the gorgeous flowers. It is of "special value to native, bumble, and honey bees." [5]  Miner and plasterer bees also visit the flowers. [13] "Among the wasps that it brings to the garden are beneficial predatory wasps that control grubs, pest caterpillars, and other harmful insects." [12 via 10] Hummingbirds also visit the flowers. 

DESCRIPTION: A highly aromatic multi-branched, herbaceous to semi-woody perennial with showy flowerspikes, often gangly. "Unlike the most familiar Monarda species that have a single flower head on a stem, Monarda punctata has flowers that are stacked up the stem with bracts radiating from the stem, under each flower." [10]  It has been described as having the scent of "fine greek oregano." [5] The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center lists it as an annual. [5]
- STEMS: Square. "The showy part of this plant is the bracts which are pink to lavender.
- LEAVES: 2-3" long. Toothed. [14]
- FLOWERS: Flowers are actually small, two-lipped [6], whitish to yellowish, with purple spots," [4] tubular, in whorls. [5] Spikes for at the end of stems with "whitish, purple-tinged, leaf-like bracts." [5] One-, two-, or more tiered, "but interrupted." [6]
- FLOWERING TIME: April to August. [5] Green Deane lists it as June to October, depending on location. [13] Native wildflower author Roger Hammer lists it from April through October. [14]
HEIGHT: 6 - 36" tall. Rarely to 4 feet. [7]
NATIVE RANGE: "Vermont to Minnesota, south to Texas, New Mexico and north to Kansas, through the east coast." [5] In Florida, it grows from near Naples to West Palm and northward. [1] In Canada, it is found in Ontario. It is found in northern Mexico. [10]
HABITAT: "Prairie, plains, meadows, pastures, savannahs." [5] Coastal berms, roadsides. "It favors edges of forests bisected by roadways and trails." [14] 
ETYMOLOGY: Monarda "commemorates the Spanish (Seville) physician (and botanist) Nicolas Bautista Monardes, ca. 1493-1578/?88." [1,5,6] The specific epithet, punctata, mean dotted or spotted.
HISTORY: Daniel Austin writes, "Swanton [1928a] found the Creeks using horsemint, and the plant is still used in Oklahoma [Howard, 1984]." [2]
CULTIVARS: Roger Hammer tells us that there are "several named cultivars in the nursery trade." [14] 
USDA ZONES: North to zone 3. [6] North to zone 5 according to [7] 
LIGHT: Full sun. Tolerates part shade. [6]
SOIL: Dry, sandy. [5]
SOIL pH: 6.8 - 7.2 [5]
DROUGHT TOLERANCE: High. "But summer watering can keep plants fresh and blooming longer." [5]
SALT SPRAY TOLERANCE: Very tolerant of salt spray. [7]
CONTAINERS: Does well in containers. [6]
PROPAGATION: By seed "sown in situ or in pots and transplanted to sandy, well-drained soil." [5] "Easily propagated from untreated seed sown in fall or stratified seed sown in spring." [5] Collect seed from September to October. [5] Also, "by cuttings of young foliage." [5] Also, by clump division.
NOTE: It "can become aggressive." [5]
RELATED SPECIES: One other Monarda species grows wild here in Florida, Monarda citriodora, the non-native Lemon Beebalm. It has only been reported from Alachua and Levy counties. 

More Details

Flowering Calendar

Flower Color

Scrub Pine Flatwood Prairies

Plant Form
Herbaceous Evergreen Perennial Herb
3 feet
3 feet

Hardiness Zone
4a to 10a
Ease of growth
Part Sun Full Sun
Poor Sandy
6.5 - 7.0
Salt Tolerant Drought Tolerant
2 feet

Does well in Containers

Sources for acquiring

Some native plant nurseries sell these as potted plants, including the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Native Plant Nursery on Sanibel Island.  


[1] Atlas of Florida Plants 
[2] Florida Ethnobotany, by Daniel Austin 
[3] Devi Pagan, herbalist 
[4] FNPS (Florida Native Plant Society) 
[8] Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine 
[9] Susan Marynowski, Gainesville area wild edible and medicinal plant walk guide and herbalist 
[10] Wikipedia 
[11] via 10 - Remarkable Plants of Texas: Uncommon Accounts of Our Common Natives. Austin. / Turner, Matt (2009) 
[12] via 10 - Mt. Cuba Center (Retrieved 2017) 
[14] Roger Hammer 
Last Updated: July 17, 2018

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