The Grump Is Stumped! Can You ID This Plant?

June 2, 2009 | By | Comments (17)

Flower

In a world where gardening questions come thicker than Susan Boyles’ eyebrows, nothing is certain — not even the Grump’s uncanny ability to identify mystery plants, like this one photographed by Beth in Shelby County, Alabama.

Beth writes, “I just discovered your blog and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it so far. [What a delightful individual!] When I saw your “Stump the Grump” contest, I thought you might be just the person to help me figure out a mystery plant that grows in my yard. I’ve asked around on several popular gardening websites and no one seems to know what it is.

“This purplish blue plant comes up every spring in my flower beds. I did not plant it–it was here way before I was. We are the original owners of this house, so I assume nobody else planted it here either. It grows like a weed, and most likely it IS a weed. But it’s a very beautiful plant, so I keep it around to fill in my flowerbeds. It dies out when the heat of summer hits, but I know I’ll see it again next year. If you can tell me what kind of plant this is, I’d be grateful.”

Here’s a close-up of the flowers.

FLOWER2

Grump’s response: Beth,the stems, foliage, and flowers tell me it belongs to the mint family, but I can’t ID it beyond that. You have stumped the Grump!

Fortunately, I have an incredibly knowledgeable cadre of readers who will no doubt be honored to accept this challenge. How about Grumpians? Help Beth out! What is this plant?

COMMENTS

  1. Lianne

    I concur that it is mint, although mine doesn’t usually go to flower. The leaves and description look/sound just like my mint plants that are totally taking over all my flower beds. A smell test is in order!

    June 2, 2009 at 7:42 pm
  2. veratrine
    June 2, 2009 at 7:52 pm
  3. Helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence

    Looks mintish to me.

    June 2, 2009 at 9:06 pm
  4. chathamcorabbit

    Is there a spring blooming form of Salvia farinacea?

    June 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm
  5. Beth (aka the Grump Stumper)

    I gave it a smell test this afternoon, and there is nothing particularly minty about it. Does it have to smell like mint to be in the mint family? The flowers smell kind of like lemon, actually. Not floral or minty, but a citrus of some kind.
    Those cat mint photos do look quite a bit like it!

    June 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm
  6. Jean

    The flowers look like lobelia I have growing in a pot..and it also looks like the mint that is growing on either side of my walkway.The leaves dont exactly look like the mint so I am sticking with lobelia. I cannot believe the grump is stumped!

    June 3, 2009 at 5:28 am
  7. SCSue

    I say – Salvia Officinalis – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_sage

    June 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm
  8. Grumpy Gardener

    After due consideration, the Grump has concluded that the mystery plant is likely a form of catmint (Nepeta sp.) Beth, take a look at this link: http://www.bluestoneperennials.com/b/bp/scan/MM=f5efd42dae49ddfbbf481a07a04fdc06:700:708:9.html?mv_more_ip=1&mv_nextpage=results_pics&from_qualify=&mv_arg=
    Any of these catmints look like the one in question?

    June 3, 2009 at 1:36 pm
  9. Stacey

    I think it is a Scutellaria (skull cap).

    June 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm
  10. Grumpy Gardener

    I think you’re right, Stacey. Now it looks like downy skullcap (Scutellaria incana). Take a look at this page, Beth: http://www.mobot.org/GARDENINGHELP/PLANTFINDER/plant.asp?code=F530
    Oh well — at least I was right about it being in the mint family!

    June 3, 2009 at 2:57 pm
  11. Jenn

    What about asiatic dayflower

    June 3, 2009 at 3:23 pm
  12. Hilda

    It seems to be a variety of Prunella, common name self-heal.
    It is most definitely NOT an asiatic dayflower.

    June 3, 2009 at 3:43 pm
  13. Janet

    Is it something in the gentian family?

    June 3, 2009 at 6:27 pm
  14. Vikki

    If the “guessing lamp” is still lit my guess would be Salvia farinacea.
    http://serendipityacres.com/Salvias.html

    June 4, 2009 at 10:04 am
  15. Vivien

    I found it! It’s Salvia urticifolia, or nettle-leafed sage. Check out http://www.alabamaplants.com.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:56 pm
  16. Grumpy Gardener

    I think we have a winner, Grumpians! Nettle-leafed sage it is. The Grump only pretended to be stumped to provoke a lively discussion.

    June 6, 2009 at 8:01 am
  17. Beth (aka the Grump Stumper)

    YES! Vivien, that is definitely it! Thank you so much for all your help everyone. I’m glad to finally have an ID on this beautiful plant that seems to want to take over my flower beds.
    Beth

    June 6, 2009 at 11:43 pm