The lavender blossoms of horsemint (also known as wild bergamot) were abundant at Forum Nature Area, in Columbia, this morning. A common member of the mint family, this wildflower is found throughout Missouri and across most of the country; the plant, up to three feet tall, favors open, sunny fields, prairies, glades and roadsides where it often grows in sizable stands.
The attractive flowers of horsemint, which bloom from late May through August, attract a wide variety of pollinators, including bees, moths, butterflies and hummingbirds; indeed, it is commonly planted in butterfly gardens. Humans have also been attracted to this wildflower, using it to make herbal tea that, it is claimed, offers a variety of medicinal benefits.
In addition to the horsemint, yellow and purple coneflowers, prairie blazing star, showy milkweed and Queen Ann's lace adorned the Hinkson Creek floodplain this morning. Painted turtles lounged along the seasonal lake, bullfrogs and green frogs called from the marshy shores and young toadlets hopped across the graveled path, oblivious of the human and canine traffic. Birds of note included indigo buntings, eastern bluebirds, common yellowthroats and yellow-billed cuckoos.