Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Spotted Beebalm - Monarda punctata   L.
Members of Monarda with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Lamiaceae
AuthorL.
DistributionThroughout the Coastal Plain, and scattered across the Piedmont. Only a few records in the mountains, mostly in the southern counties.

This species has a wide but quite spotty range, occurring from eastern Canada south to southern FL and NM. However, it is nearly absent in the east-central states (WV south through TN).
AbundanceCommon over most of the Coastal Plain, but only fairly common in the northwestern portions. Fairly common in the southeastern portion of the Piedmont, but mostly uncommon elsewhere in the province. Very rare in lower elevations of the mountains. The rare var. arkansana, reported only from Polk and Haywood counties, is named by the NCNHP as a Watch List taxon.
HabitatThis is the only Monarda found in the Coastal Plain, and the only one favoring sandy and acidic soils. It occurs in dunes, sandy flats, open pine/oak sandhills, sandy fields, and other sandy places, in full to partial sun. On the other hand, var. arkansana occurs in dry woods over mafic rock (i.e., in high pH soil).
PhenologyBlooms from late July into September, and fruits from September to October.
IdentificationThis is a medium-sized herb, with un unbranched to sparsely branched stem, growing to about 2' tall. It has a few paired, opposite leaves that are usually quite hairy, lanceolate to narrowly elliptic, pointed at the apex and rounded at the base, and shallowly serrated on the margins. The leaf blade averages 2.5" long but usually 1/2" wide or less, narrower than in others of the genus. Unlike the other Monarda species in the state, which have only a single large flower cluster at the end of a stem, this species has two to three whorls of flowers, each 1-2" apart on the stem. There are strikingly bright pink bracts below each whorl, but in this species the individual flowers are rather small, only about 3/4" long, mostly light yellow with purple spots. As with the others, often about 10 flowers are in bloom at a time in a whorl, each one facing outward from the stem. Unlike with the others, it is the bracts and their color that attract attention at a distance -- i.e., the pink color stands out more so than does the yellow of the flowers. You should not have trouble finding this species in the Coastal Plain in sandy areas, even along the back sides of dunes.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species has quite a few varieties, according to most recent references, no surprise considering its wide range. Weakley (2018) lists three varieties in the state --- the very rare montane var. arkansana, the widespread var. punctata, and var. villicaulis, considered by him as likely not native to the state (in the Coastal Plain).

Other Common Name(s)Eastern Horse-mint, Dotted Horse-mint
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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