Sunday, September 1, 2019

Wood Germander/Sage - Teucrium canadense

Wood germander/sage (Teucrium canadense) is a very widespread member of the mint family, common throughout Florida and in nearly every state of the U.S. and province of Canada. It prefers the open sunny edges of wetlands and is most often encountered at the upper edges of marshes and wet prairies.
This is a robust perennial that dies back to the ground in winter and often reaches three feet in height by the summer months. The leaves are large - up to 4 inches long and elliptical in shape. They also are opposite along the stem, deep green, with noticeable teeth along the leaf margins.  In a lot of settings where wood germander occurs, it will stand above the other plants in the plant community.
Blooming occurs in summer and fall.  The flowers occur at the top of the stems, and blooming starts at the bottom, working upwards towards the top over several weeks. Like most mints, the flowers have a broad lower lip and two smaller upper petals. These recurve upwards and look like tiny wings. The pale lavender blooms are spotted with deep pink dots.. They are quite attractive to pollinating insects of all kinds.
Although this is an attractive wildflower with excellent value as a pollinator plant, it requires moister soil than most can give it and it suckers very aggressively when planted in the right conditions. For this reason, it is rarely propagated by any of the native plant nurseries in Florida affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. Although it does not play well with others in a typical landscape setting, it would be a very valuable addition to a wetland restoration one. Like other mints, it produces copious amounts of seed by early fall and should be easy to propagate if the tiny seed were scattered on the surface of soil kept moist to wet.

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