Many Mints at the United States Botanic Garden

By Anne Galer, Extension Master Gardener

Salvia patens(Mexican blue sage)
Photo © 2019 Anne Galer

So small I missed it on the first pass, the mint exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden is worth a stop if you’re down on the National Mall.

Crammed into ten feet of space along the corridor between the cactus and medicinal plant rooms is a colorful display of many of the Lamiaceae family members. Ranging from Salvia through coleus, basils, oregano, thyme, mountain mint, and more, the display refreshes your memory of how many plants are part of this diverse family, and how their uses range from culinary to ornamental.

In signage titled “It’s Hip to Be Square,” visitors are reminded that “when you see a plant with square stems, and leaves growing opposite each other, there is a good chance it belongs to the mint family.” Other surprising details revealed in the exhibit include the fact that of the more than 7,000 species in the Lamiaceae family, some 400 plants are native to the United States. Monarda (Beebalms) and Pycnanthemum (mountain mints) are two popular mid-Atlantic native ornamentals on display.

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The mint exhibit runs through November 23, 2019, so there is plenty of time to work it into your next visit to Washington, D.C. On your way out be sure to make a quick stop in the Botanic Garden’s West Gallery to see the poster exhibit “Celebrating New American Gardens,” open through October 15, 2019, and plan your next green road trip.

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