Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ashe's Savory - Calamintha ashei







Ashe's savory (Calamintha ashei) is a rather rare Florida endemic (it is listed by the state as a Threatened species), found mostly in Polk and Highlands County in the Lake Wales Ridge. There is a disjunct, small population in a portion of the Ocala National Forest in Marion County. In all locations, it is restricted to excessively well-drained sands and full sun.

Ashe's savory is a bit more sprawling than the other Florida species. Often, it is more wide than tall. Well-grown specimens rarely stand taller than 18 inches, but they may be 2-3 feet wide. The foliage is a beautiful blue-green in color and the leaves are rather elliptical and curl under quite noticeably.

This species is described as a perennial, but I have not found it to be especially long lived. Truly large woody specimens are rare in nature and most individuals are no older than 3-5 years by appearance. It seems to thrive in open and somewhat disturbed areas of the Florida scrub where its many seeds can find a place to germinate and get started without competition.

Ashe's savory blooms most abundantly in the spring. Very few flowers, if any, should be expected at other times. The flowers are especially striking; light lavender and a bit larger than either the Georgia calamint (C. georgiana) or the toothed savory (C. dentata) I have described previously. I will admit an extreme fondness for this plant and I try to make at least one trip each spring to places where I can see it in bloom. the flowers are especially attractive to bees, but butterflies can be see pollinating it too.

Because of its rarity and narrow tolerance to growing conditions, this is not a plant likely to be offered commercially; although it has been from time to time over the years. We have kept this plant in our gardens by creating the type of scrub conditions it requires in nature and we propagate it from time to time by cuttings. At this time, however, we do not anticipate offering it through Hawthorn Hill.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, I have been looking for info on this plant that would provide size and direction for planting. In over 1 half hour of searching this site is the only one to provide such info. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also find this site to have the best information regarding Florida's Wildflowers. I have it bookmarked, on my Google Chrome toolbar, and refer to it several times a week! I'm a professional naturalist, and self-professed native plant freak, and I truly value this site. One of these I'll get down south (I'm in Ocala) and see the nursery! (With an empty trunk in my car so I can bring back loooooottttts of plants! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have an excellent blog. My compliments to you. I live in Gainesville, Florida and I grow Ashe's savory (Calamintha asheii) in my backyard. I acquired my first plant approximately five years ago at a native plant sale in Gainesville. I planted it in my butterfly garden in the backyard. It grew very well and blooms every year. I have taken cuttings and started new plants, and I now have five, plus "the mother plant." This year we had a lot of rain and recently I noticed that the mother plant had lots of dead wood. I've never seen this before. Do you think the rain caused this? After reading your posting, however, I wonder it it's just age since the mother plant is 5 years old. Maybe that's it? I hope not. I love it. Oh, another strange thing, all of my Ashe's savory are presently covered in blooms (October) and anywhere where I've found info on this plant, it states that it blooms in spring. Well, if you can offer any suggestions, I'd be grateful.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your compliments on my blog. From my experience, this mint rarely lives more than ~5 years before declining. It is, however, very susceptible to drainage/moisture. In the scrubs it is native to, it is not the frequent rains but the water retention of the sands it is growing in. In sharp, well-drained sands, frequent rain is not an issue, but if you have it planted in typical sandy yard sands, it may well be that it suffered from those sands holding too much moisture. I live in a former sandhill, but my soils are not normal sandhill sands. To grow this plant, and most other scrub mints, effectively, I dug out and removed the top 3' of my yard sand - down to the sandier substrate and filled the hole with coarse builder's sand. This increased drainage has worked wonders. Hope this helps.

    ReplyDelete

Please let me know if this site and the various postings have been useful to you.