Wild pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Wild pennyroyal is a low-growing, evergreen, herbaceous to woody shrub. Its small, 2-lipped flowers are lavender to purple with dark purple spots on the lower lips. They are borne in dense, showy clusters. Leaves are tiny, needle-like with entire margins, and oppositely arranged.
Wild pennyroyal 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.
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 plant, 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’
Propagation: Seeds, cuttings
Garden tips: Wild pennyroyal works well as a groundcover or as a border planting. It remains attractive, even when not in flower. It is easily propagated by cuttings and seeds, and is drought-tolerant.
Wild pennyroyal is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.