Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Plant of the Week: American Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides)

Supposedly the Pennryrile region of western Kentucky was named for this small wildflower that loves dry shade to full sun.  This is a plant that is usually smelled before seen. It is an annual, but very easy to establish from seed and seed is pretty widely available because it has medicinal properties in addition to repelling insects.  It grows from 6 to 18" tall and will form pretty dense colonies., particularly if there is no competition from other plants.  It appears to like disturbed, open, bare soil. The most distinctive feature is the strong minty smell, which is why it was used in teas during olden times.  As with many mints, it has a square stem, opposite, oval shaped leaves, and the small blue, tubular flowers arise from the leaf axils in July through October.  A great place in dry shade to plant is along a walkway where you can get a whiff of the aromatic odor when it gets brushed or crushed.  This plant has been used as a natural insect repellent and was used for a variety of medicinal purposes.  It contains the essential oil, pulegone, and this can be a deadly compound if ingested orally.  Prior to abortion being legal, it was commonly used to induce abortion but it can cause severe hemorrhaging and complications, sometimes which result in death.  This is a plant that should never be used for medicinal purposes without direct supervision from a medical doctor.  It has been used to induce perspiration with the intent of warding off a cold, induce menstruation,  loosen phlegm, respiratory disorders, jaundice, nausea, ulcers, consumption, dropsy, toothache, leprosy, whooping cough, convulsions, sores in the mouth, colic, snakebites, expel after-birth, sore gums, fainting, fever, and gout.  It has been used as a flavoring agent and relieves gas and stomach pain.  It has also been used externally for bruising, itching and skin rashes.  In the garden its best use is as a ground cover with that strong aromatic odor which brings delight to the senses.

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