En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 19, 2013

From: Earlysville, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of small mint-like plant in Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am looking for a mint plant my mother use to have but we didn't plant. It grew in Earlysville, Virginia in red clay soil. The cat loved it but it was neither catnip nor catmint. It was under six inches and grew tightly packed. It had upright stalks with small pointed leaves all the way up it slightly graduated with very little space between leaf segments. It had a bluish color to it and it never bloomed, but if you brushed it slightly with your leg it was very aromatically minty. I cant find anything that looks like it, I hope you can help me find it or at least narrow it down. Thank you.


According to the USDA Plants Database there are more than 65 species of plants (both native and introduced) in the Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family) that occur in Albemarle County, Virginia.  Of those 65+ plants I found 4 that were somewhat similar to your description.  Only the first one (American false pennyroyal) is a North American native. The other three are introduced species native to Europe, Asia and Africa.

Hedeoma pulegioides (American false pennyroyal) is a North American native.  Here are photos and more information from Illinois Wildflowers that reports it has a strong fragrance.

Glechoma hederacea (Ground ivy or Creeping Charlie) is native to Europe and southwestern Asia and is considered invasive in the Mid-Atlantic and New EnglandAlmostEdenPlants.com (and others) report it as being fragrant.

Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit) is a native of Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.  Here are more photos from CalPhotos from the University of California-Berkeley.  University of Minnesota Extension reports it as having a minty fragrance.

Lamium purpureum (Purple deadnettle) is also a native of Europe and Asia.  Here are more photos and information from Illinois Wildflowers.  Reported (by NatureGate) to have an unpleasant fragranceLearn2Grow says it has fragrant flowers and foliage.

I hope you recognize one of these as your little mint plant.  If not, you might try contacting the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS).  The Jefferson Chapter of VNPS is the one that includes Albemarle County.


More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
June 07, 2010 - There are large trees with brilliant orange flowers around Naples FL. Can you tell me what this is?
view the full question and answer

Identity of flowering yellow trees in Austin
March 21, 2012 - There are numerous flowering yellow trees in my Austin neighborhood. Are they mesquite or goldenball lead trees? They are quite fragrant, like a new bar of soap.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 15, 2010 - I bought a double knock-out rose bush and planted it in my yard. A year later a weed-like plant started growing beside it. It has very thorny leaves, stems and stalk. Little purple flowers are grow...
view the full question and answer

Identification of red-topped grass blooming in Comal County
May 21, 2013 - I live in Comal County and right now (mid May) there is a beautiful, red topped grass growing along the side of country roads. It is maybe 1 foot tall, and waves in the breeze. Do you know what kind o...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID for that looks like lemon verbena
May 03, 2014 - I have a weed that looks a bit like Lemon Verbena with tiny purple flowers sprouting again this spring in my pasture. It seems to like sandy, acidy sunny areas and smells nice when you even brush up ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center