Wild pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Wild pennyroyal is a low-growing, evergreen, herbaceous to woody shrub. It typically flowers in late winter through spring, but can bloom year-round. It occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby and pine flatwoods, sandhills, dry prairies and ruderal areas. Flowers are attractive to a variety of bees and butterflies. The entire plant is delightfully aromatic, particularly when crushed. Its leaves can also be brewed into a minty tea.
Wild pennyroyal’s small, 2-lipped flowers may be lavender, purple or pinkish. Lower lips are lobed with dark purple spots. Stamen are prominent. Flowers are borne in dense, cone-shaped terminal clusters. Sepals are pubescent and green with purple margins. Leaves are tiny, needle-like with entire margins, and oppositely arranged. Stems are woody and branched. Fruit is a small aggregate of nutlets.
Piloblephis rigida is the only species in its genus. The name comes from the Greek words pilo (hairy) and blephis (eyelid), referring to the tiny, soft hairs that coat the sepals, and rigida (rigid), which refers to its stiff branches.
Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Native range: Peninsular Florida
To see where natural populations of wild pennyroyal have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Soil: Dry, well-drained, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: 1–2’ tall and equally broad
Propagation: Seeds, cuttings
Garden tips: Wild pennyroyal is best suited for naturalistic plantings and restorations, but also works well as a groundcover or border planting. It is drought-tolerant and grows in nutrient-poor soil.
Wild pennyroyal is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.