A purple crown of flowers above dusty gray-green leaves: here is a coyote mint in bloom. In the center of the exuberant lilac ring of flowers, a round green bulge of unopened buds looks like a clown’s pate peeking through. Each flower is tube-shaped, its sprawling petals accented by many long stamens. The entire flower head approaches two inches across, and the plant grows one to two feet high, slightly sprawling.
One very charming thing about this coyote mint (Monardella villosa) is that it sports a twin pair of tiny leaves at the base of each pair of larger leaves.
This flower grows only in Oregon and California, and is a great addition to a well-drained garden since it attracts bees and butterflies. You can tell it’s in the mint family by taking a look at the square, four-sided stem. Every time I’ve seen it I’ve forgotten to take a sniff, but I hear that it has a characteristic toothpaste-like aroma as well… It was used by the Spanish as a cure for sore throats.