Pycnanthemum clinopodioides - Torr. & Gray
Basil Mountainmint
Other Common Names: basil mountainmint
Synonym(s): Pycnanthemum x clinopodioides Torr. & Gray
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Pycnanthemum clinopodioides Torr. & Gray (TSN 504687)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.158131
Element Code: PDLAM1N030
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Mint Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Lamiales Lamiaceae Pycnanthemum
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Pycnanthemum clinopodioides
Taxonomic Comments: Some authors (Gleason 1952; Gleason & Cronquist 1963; etc.) have suggested that this taxon is of hybrid origin. Most recent authors accept as valid taxon (Grant & Epling 1943; Fernald 1950; Cronquist in Gleason & Cronquist 1991; Kartesz, 1994).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Mar2009
Global Status Last Changed: 10Mar2009
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Pycnanthemum clinopodioides is known from scattered, highly localized occurrences from Massachusetts south to North Carolina. The majority of known occurrences are considered historic or extirpated; approximately 13-14 occurrences are believed extant, and the total population may be little more than 500 plants. Loss of habitat due to development and quarrying or by natural succession of woody vegetation is the primary threat to P. clinopodioides. Invasive non-native plants and, potentially, hybridization with other Pycnanthemum species are also threats at some sites.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Connecticut (S1), Delaware (SH), District of Columbia (SX), Maryland (SH), Massachusetts (S1), New Jersey (S1), New York (S1), North Carolina (S1?), Pennsylvania (SH), South Carolina (SNR), Virginia (S1), West Virginia (S1)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: This species has a highly scattered and localized distribution from Massachusetts south to North Carolina. Kartesz (1999) also reports the species from South Carolina, but other sources (e.g. Weakley 2008) do not include South Carolina in its distribution. The core of the range is considered to be limited to southern New York, northern New Jersey, and historically eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland. It had also been reported from east Texas by Correll and Johnston (1970), but Texas botanists consider it unlikely that this report is valid (J. Singhurst and B. Carr, pers. comm. 2009).

Area of Occupancy: 26-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Area of occupancy was estimated to be approximately 40 square km based on the presence of Pycnanthemum clinopodioides in 10 separate 4 km square grid cells.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Approximately 13-14 occurrences are believed extant, though three of these are believed to have poor viability. States with extant occurrences include Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts (1 with poor viability only). The species is also believed extant in North Carolina with an unknown (but small) number of occurrences. An additional 29 occurrences are considered historical and 5 extirpated or possibly extirpated; these include all known occurrences in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

Population Size Comments: There appear to be only about 450-550 plants in total at all sites currently believed extant.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few (1-3)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Just one population in New York is believed to have excellent or good viability and one in Virginia to have good or fair viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Primary threats, all causing loss of habitat, include development, quarrying, and natural succession of woody vegetation. Invasive non-native plants are also a significant threat at several sites. Hybridization with other Pycnanthemum may also be a threat. There appear to be few barriers to interspecific hybridization within Pycnanthemum, and vigorous vegetative reproduction might permit the survival of hybrids with low fertility (Chambers 1962); P. clinopodioides has been found to be capable of forming natural hybrids with P. incanum and artificial hybrids with P. pilosum or P. tenuifolium (Chambers and Chambers 1971). Other potential threats including human trampling and collection. Possibly threatened by deer overbrowsing although it does not appear that significant browsing impacts have been documented at any particular site.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Short-term Trend Comments: This species appears to be declining throughout its range.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 70-90%
Long-term Trend Comments: The vast majority of occurrences are historic or extirpated.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: This species has a highly scattered and localized distribution from Massachusetts south to North Carolina. Kartesz (1999) also reports the species from South Carolina, but other sources (e.g. Weakley 2008) do not include South Carolina in its distribution. The core of the range is considered to be limited to southern New York, northern New Jersey, and historically eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland. It had also been reported from east Texas by Correll and Johnston (1970), but Texas botanists consider it unlikely that this report is valid (J. Singhurst and B. Carr, pers. comm. 2009).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CT, DCextirpated, DE, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC, VA, WV

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Hartford (09003), Litchfield (09005)*, New Haven (09009)
MA Middlesex (25017)*, Norfolk (25021)
MD Allegany (24001)*, Montgomery (24031)*, Washington (24043)*
NJ Bergen (34003), Camden (34007)*, Gloucester (34015)*, Hunterdon (34019)*, Mercer (34021)*, Middlesex (34023)*, Passaic (34031), Somerset (34035)*, Sussex (34037)
NY Bronx (36005)*, Dutchess (36027), New York (36061)*, Rockland (36087)
PA Bedford (42009)*, Berks (42011)*, Bucks (42017)*, Chester (42029)*, Dauphin (42043)*, Lancaster (42071)*, Lebanon (42075)*, Lehigh (42077)*, Montgomery (42091)*
VA Augusta (51015), Bland (51021), Fauquier (51061), Greensville (51081)
WV Calhoun (54013)*, Mineral (54057)*, Morgan (54065)*, Raleigh (54081)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Lower Connecticut (01080205)+*, Farmington (01080207)+, Charles (01090001)+, Quinnipiac (01100004)+, Housatonic (01100005)+
02 Rondout (02020007)+, Lower Hudson (02030101)+, Bronx (02030102)+*, Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+, Raritan (02030105)+*, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+, Lehigh (02040106)+*, Lower Delaware (02040202)+*, Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+*, Lower Susquehanna-Penns (02050301)+*, Raystown (02050303)+*, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+*, Lower Susquehanna (02050306)+*, North Branch Potomac (02070002)+*, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+*, Conococheague-Opequon (02070004)+*, South Fork Shenandoah (02070005)+, Middle Potomac-Catoctin (02070008)+*, Rapidan-Upper Rappahannock (02080103)+
03 Nottoway (03010201)+
05 Little Kanawha (05030203)+*, Middle New (05050002)+, Lower New (05050004)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial herb that can reach 1 m in height. Herbage has a pungent, mint-like odor. White flowers (late summer) are arranged into dense terminal clusters, crowded with green bracts.
General Description: Perennial herb up to a meter tall, commonly to 80 cm. For complete description see Grant and Epling (1943).

Stem: Slender, 3-7.5 dm, to 1 m with short, axillary branches. Pubescent with short, downcurved hairs or longer spreading hairs or both.

Leaves: Short leafy branches originate in the axils of the leaves. Leaf blades are narrowly lanceolate, shallowly serrate or entire, 4-8 cm long and not canescent. The largest leaves average 4.5 to 9.5 cm long by 1 to 2.5 cm wide, on petioles 3 to 6 mm long. The upper leaf surface has scattered hairs and the lower surface has longer spreading hairs especially on the main veins.

Inflorescence: Open and distinctly branching as a loose corymb. Leaf-like bracts subtending the inflorescence are either green or canescent on the upper surface.

Flowers: Calyces pubescent with short hairs 4-6 mm long. Calyx-teeth sparingly bristle-tipped and ciliate, and the corolla tube 4-5.5 mm long and abruptly narrowed above the middle.

Fruits: Nutlets glabrous or sometimes hairy at the tip.

Diagnostic Characteristics: The identification of members of Pycnanthemum is complicated by hybridization, polyploidy, and intraspecific polymorphism (Carr and Hunter 1973). P. clinopodioides is similar in appearance to Pycnanthemum incanum (Snyder 1994). P. incanum has slightly wider leaves, up to 5.5 cm wide, with many strongly canescent above. P. clinopodioides has green leaves narrowly lanceolate and rarely as wide as 2.7 cm. P. clinopodioides can be distinguished from narrower-leaved species by its more open, distinctly branched inflorescence, bilabiate calyces, which are typically margined with few to several long, multicellular trichomes (Snyder 1994). Also the stems of P. clinopodioides have both long, spreading hairs and also minute curved hairs with tips pointing towards the stem to form a tiny inverted J or U (Snyder 1994).
Ecology Comments: The genus Pycnanthemum consists of approx. 20 species located mostly in the eastern U.S., with the center of diversity for the genus located in the mountains of North Carolina (Chambers, 1961, Boomhour, 1941). P. clinopodioides has the most restricted distribution of any Northeastern U.S. Pycnanthemum species (Snyder, in press). This species flowers in July to September, and is Considered local or rare throughout its range (Snyder, in press). It was first described by Torrey and Gray in 1842 based on NJ and NY specimens, but questions arose about a possible hybrid status of P. clinopodioides. Gray (1848) considered it a hybrid between P. incanum and P. torrei. P. torrei has a range and habit similar to P. clinopodioides and is also rare (Chambers and Chambers, 1971). Chambers (1962) believed P. clinopodioides to be a hybrid between tetraploid species of the virginianum and incanum species complexes. Grant and Epling (1943) considered P. clinopodioides a valid species but suggested that the species was very variable and may be of hybrid origin between a species of the incanum group and a narrow leaved species such as P. verticillatum (Grant and Epling, 1943). Current authors consider it a valid species not necessarily of hybrid origin (Gleason, 1991; Gleason and Cronquist 1963).

A study of chromosome number of Pycnanthemum revealed uncertainty about the taxonomic affinities of P. clinopodioides (Chambers, 1961). Two plants of P. clinopodioides were studied, one tetraploid and one triploid. The triploid was morphologically similar to the tetraploid but sterile, with a high percent of pollen abortion. Meiotic irregularities in the tetraploid indicate the production of chromosomally unbalanced gametes (Chambers, 1961).

The chemistry of P. clinopodioides has not been investigated, but it is likely to be similar to that of other mint species for which there have been some preliminary investigations. P. incanum has been identified as a species with a high natural rubber content; more than 1% natural rubber on the whole dry plant basis (Buchanan et al. 1978). This species is widespread over most of its range, but is endangered in Canada (Crins, 1989).

In Illinois a population of P. virginianum was reported to have a lemony odor instead of the customary minty odor (Sorensen and Matekaitis, 1981). The distribution of P. virginianum within the prairies of Ontario has been studied in relation to soil factors (Faber-Langendoen and Maycock, 1987). It was found to be less common on wet loam soils than on dry-mesic sandy, mesic sandy loam, and wet-mesic sandy loam soils (Faber- Langendoen and Maycock, 1987). This species was also studied within the tallgrass prairies of Wisconsin (Parker et al., 1993). This and other native species were found to be more prevalent on undisturbed sites than disturbed sites near roads were the abundance of exotics increased. The examination of other closely related species of Pycnanthemum may provide some insight into the biological characteristics of P. clinopodioides. However, until studies have been completed which specifically address this species, it will be difficult to make generalizations about the biology and ecology of the species.

Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Barrens, Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: P. clinopodioides prefers dry or moist rocky ground of wooded slopes and watersides, as well as dry open ledges, bluffs, and open thickets, frequently over limestone or mafic substrates. Mostly a plant of the Coastal Plain, but towards the south of its range (West Virginia, North Carolina) it is found along the mountains.
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: P. pilosum, mountain mint, was stated by Pellett (1947) to be "A promising plant which may provide a new crop for essential oil as well as bee pasture." Peppermint and spearmint are the plants most commonly grown within the U.S. for essential oils. Essential oils are used to make a variety of products from chewing gum to soap (Pellett, 1947). The oils from this plant are produced from trichomes on the stem and leaves (Pellett, 1950). The major constituents of the oil from P. pilosum were found to be 80% pulegone, 10% menthone, 3-5% limonene, and 2% menthol (Pellett, 1950).

The oil from another species, P. albescens, is known to have odor-blocking and antifungal properties (Eickholt and Box, 1965). P. albescens is a volatile oil similar to peppermint oil, composed primarily of terpenes, with no menthol component. Toxicity tests were investigated with this oil and it was found to be even less toxic to mice than peppermint oil, and thus possibly suitable for human consumption. The lower toxicity is thought to be due to the lack of menthol in this oil (Eickholt and Box, 1965).

Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: P. clinopodioides is a very rare species which may require special management of natural areas in order to ensure survival. Controlling the process of natural succession and/or roadside maintenance may be necessary in order to prevent elimination of the species from habitat it presently occupies. This active management is suggested for appropriate locations in addition to the overall need for protection of land from development. Periodic clearing of woody vegetation may be necessary to maintain open habitat.
Restoration Potential: Herbaceous species found in relatively open areas within wooded lands such as P. clinopodioides are often gap-colonizers which benefit from natural disturbances such as windthrows within a mosaic of successional stages. The alteration of this natural process may result in a successional stage dominated by mature woody vegetation of uniform age and the elimination of P. clinopodioides. However, recovery potential of populations should be good as long as a seed source of P. clinopodioides is present near newly available habitat. It is not known whether this species maintains a viable seed bank.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Protection of populations from development and from elimination by succession both need to be implemented to ensure the survival of this species. This may require active management of disturbance at site locations. The most protected occurrences may be those where the entire watershed in which they occur is protected from development and human disturbance.
Management Requirements: The dependency of this species upon partially open areas may require special management. Human disturbance may reduce or increase the amount of habitat suitable for perisitence or recolonization of this species. Periodic disturbance of woody vegetation may be necessary in order to maintain habitat in a suitably open condition. Management at the ecosystem level of watersheds associated with locations of this species may be necessary in order to preserve the overall environmental quality of the habitat.

While the species is dependent on some form of disturbance for survival, not all disturbance may be beneficial. One location of P. clinopodioides in Massachusetts occurs within a protected area, but along a roadside. Roadside maintenance for this and any other roadside populations may be detrimental if mowing occurs before seed set for the species. Special accommodations may need to be made to delay mowing until after seed dispersal, in order to encourage the expansion of roadside populations.

Monitoring Requirements: Repeated yearly monitoring of the demography of large populations is needed in order to better understand the life history of the species. This would allow for the determination of the life span of individual plants and the amount of seedling establishment and mortality. Threats to the populations could then be assessed on an individualized basis. Searches of potentially appropriate habitat and historical locations for populations is also recommended.

Monitoring should record population size, area, and an estimation of seed set in a given year. Any advances in the successional stage of the surrounding community should be tracked. If any intentional or unintentional manipulation of a population area occurs, the effects of the manipulation should be monitored and recorded.

Monitoring Programs: No formal monitoring programs are in place for this species, except for tracking by Heritage Programs in some states.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 10Mar2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Russell, C., rev. D. Snyder, rev. D. Gries (1998), rev. C. Nordman (2009)
Management Information Edition Date: 05Jul1995
Management Information Edition Author: Elizabeth M. Obee State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks and Forestry Office of Natural Lands Management CN 404 Trenton, NJ 08625
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 05Jul1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): ELIZABETH M. OBEE

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Boomhour, G.E. 1941. A taxonomical study of the genus Pycnanthemum (Labiatae). Ph.D. thesis, Duke University, Durham, NC.

  • Buck, W.R. 1987. Notes on Asian Hypnaceae and associated taxa. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 45: 519-527.

  • Carr, R.K., and G.E. Hunter. 1973. Flavonoid studies of Pycnanthemum: Labiatae. J. Tenn. Acad. Sci. 48:2-5.

  • Chambers, H.L, and K.L. Chambers. 1971. Artificial and natural hybrids in Pycnanthemum (Labiatae). Brittonia 23:71-88.

  • Chambers, H.L. 1961. Chromosome numbers and breeding systems in Pycnanthemum (Labiatae). Brittonia 13: 116-128.

  • Chambers, H.L. 1962. Experimental studies in Pycnanthemum (Labiatae). Am. J. Bot. 49:674.

  • Chambers, H.L. 1993. Chromosome survey and analysis of artificial hybrids in Pycnanthemum. Castanea 58:197-208.

  • Correll, D.S., and M.C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner. 1881 pp.

  • Crins, W.J. 1989. Status of the Hoary Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum incanum (Lamiaceae), in Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 103:283-286.

  • Eickholt, T.H., and R.H. Box. 1965. Toxicities of peppermint and Pycnanthemum albescens oils, fam. Labiateae. J. Pharm. Sci. 54:1071-1072.

  • Faber-Langendoen, D. and P.F. Maycock. 1987. Composition and soil-environment analysis of prairies on Wapole Island, southwestern Ontario. Can. J. Bot. 65:2410-2419.

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany, 8th ed., Corr. Printing, 1970. Van Nostrand, New York. LXIV+1632 pp.

  • Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1963. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. D. Van Nostrand Company, New York, NY. 810 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Grant, E., and C. Epling. 1943. A study of Pycnanthemum (Labiatae). University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. University of California Publication in Botany 20:195-240.

  • Gray, A. 1848. A manual of the botany of the northern United States. James Monroe and Co., Boston.

  • Haines, A. 2011. Flora Novae Angliae: a manual for the identification of native and naturalized higher vascular plants of New England. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 973 pp.

  • Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.

  • Moye, William S. 2006. Highly Ranked Plants of the South Mountain Region. Unpublished notes sent via email to Misty Franklin in February 2006.

  • New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

  • Parker, I.M., S.K. Mertens and D.W. Schemske. 1993. Distribution of seven native and two exotic plants in a tallgrass prairie in southeastern Wisconsin: The importance of human disturbance. Am. Mid. Nat. 130:43-55.

  • Pellett, F.C. 1947. Mountain mint. American Bee Journal. 87:172-173.

  • Pellett, F.C. 1950. Mountain mint, a new source of essential oil. American Bee Journal. 90:66-67.

  • Reschke, Carol. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Latham, NY. 96 pp. plus xi.

  • Snyder, D.B. 1994. Additions, range extensions, reinstatements, and relocations in the New Jersey Flora. Bartonia 58:79-96.

  • Sorensen, P.D., and P.A. Matekaitis. 1981. A lemon-scented Pycnanthemum (Lamiaceae). Rhodora 83:145-146.

  • Strausbaugh, P.D., and E.L. Core. 1978. Flora of West Virginia. Seneca Books, Inc., Grantsville, WV. 1079 pp.

  • Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://wwws.nyflora.org/, Albany, New York

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