MINT FAMILY Lamiaceae

The Mint family of 3500 species in 180 genera is named after the genus Lamium, which comes from the Greek for ‘throat’ in reference to the 2-lipped flowers and their throat-like appearance. Formerly known as Labiatae.  It is not possible to classify the family into sub-families. It includes wild flowers such as Dead-nettle and Yellow Archangel, garden flowers such as Lavender, Monarda, Salvia, Stachys and  Agastache and herbs such as Mint, Rosemary, Basil, Sage, Thyme and Marjoram. 

dead nettle flowers

The WhiteDead-Nettle  Lamium album has whorls of white flowers repeated at intervals up the main stem. The flowers are typical of this family. The five petals of each flower are arranged to form 2 lips.  Long-tongued bees such as bumble-bees  force their way in  to reach secreted nectar,  fill the space between the upper and lower lips and pick up and deposit pollen.

 

dead nettle anthers

Two of the petals are fused together to form the upper lip which shelters the 4 hairy, brown, 2-celled anthers. Two of the anthers are supported on long, white filaments and two on short filaments. The anthers split open to release pollen.

dead nettle style and stigma

The 3 lower petals form the lower lip which consists of  a central 2-lobed landing strip  and 2 upright lateral lobes just above it. This photo, in which the upper lip has been folded back, shows the white 2-branched style just below the anthers. The style has receptive stigmas at its tips.When a bee arrives on the lower lip, it grabs the 2 lateral lobes, causing the upper lip to descend and press first the 2-branched style and then the stamens onto its back.

lavender flower

Lavender Lavandula angustifolia, is a very popular garden shrub with small aromatic flowers on spikes. Flowering takes place from July to September. Each flower is 2-lipped, the lower lip has 3 lobes and the upper 2 lobes. Flowers are pollinated by bumblebees and honey bees and insects attracted by nectar secreted at the base of the ovary. This species was first recorded in England in the 13th century.

monarda flowers

Monarda ’Squaw’ is a very popular cultivar that flowers from mid-summer to autumn. Monarda is a genus native to North America with the common name Bergamot. The 2-lipped flowers are arranged on a crowded head with flowers opening sequentially from the outside  to the centre. 

salvia flower

Salvia is a genus of nearly 1000 species native to Central and South America, the Mediterranean and Asia. Salvias all have a similar pollination system. The upper lip of the flower arches over like a hood and hides the two stamens and a style. When the bee lands and pushes its head in to get at the nectar, it presses forward and triggers a mechanism which levers the anthers over and down so that they touch its back and dust it with pollen.

agastache flowers

Giant Hyssop Agastache is a genus of 30 species. Most are native to North America. Typically they have flowers in dense whorls on a tall spike.The tubular lilac flowers are two-lipped with 4 anthers and, a very long 2-lobed style. The plant secretes nectar at the base of the flowers and is attractive to bees and butterflies in Britain.

marjoram flowers

Marjoram Origanum vulgare is a native species found throughout Britain in dry pastures on lime.

Water Mint Mentha aquatica is a native wild flower found in wet areas. It is common throughout Britain.

yellow archangel  flower

Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon is a native wild flower common in England and Wales. It flowers in May and June in woods. It is pollinated by bumblebees which carry pollen on their thoraxes.

thyme

Wild Thyme Thymus polytrichus is a native prostrate wildflower which is found on dry, chalk grasslands and dunes.