American Germander

Teucrium canadense

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Photo of American germander flowers
American germander flowers are lavender or pink and densely spaced. The corolla has an unusual configuration; it seems to have no upper lip.
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org
Other Common Name
Wood Sage
Family

Lamiaceae (mints)

Description

American germander is a colony-forming perennial with a 4-sided, hairy stem that is rarely branched. Flowers are lavender or pink, in terminal and lateral racemes, densely spaced. The corolla has an unusual configuration; it seems to have no upper lip, since those 2 lobes are pointed upward like horns, while the lower lip is much larger and more complicated, with 2 rounded side lobes and a large, cupped, bottom lobe; 4 stamens protrude noticeably, with reddish-brown anthers. Blooms June–September. Leaves are opposite, lanceolate, sharply pointed; on petioles; with sharp or rounded teeth. Crushed foliage has a slightly foul odor.

Similar species: Two varieties of this species have been recorded for Missouri, and they are difficult to tell apart. American germander has several characteristics in common with its mint-family relatives, such as the square stems, opposite leaves, and two-lipped flowers. But this is the only mint in our state with the unique corolla lobe configuration.

Size

Height: to about 3 feet.

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Photo of American germander flower stalks and leaves
American Germander
Like most other mints, American germander has square stems, opposite leaves, and two-lobed flowers.

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Photo of American germander plants
American Germander (Plants)
American germander occurs statewide in fields, prairies, low woods, streamsides, roadsides, railroads, and other disturbed sites, usually in moist soil.
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in fields, prairies, low woods, streamsides, roadsides, railroads, and other disturbed sites, usually in moist soil.

image of American Germander Wood Sage Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Human connections

Germander had many medicinal uses — to induce menstruation and urination, to cause sweating, and to treat lung and throat ailments, intestinal parasites, and external wounds. The name "germander" is ancient and apparently has always referred to plants in this genus.

Ecosystem connections

As with the elaborate floral structures of orchids, the flowers are elegantly adapted for insect pollination. A variety of insects are guided to the nectar and pollen by the dark purple spots on the large lower lip. The broad lower lip is a fine landing pad for flying insects.