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American Dittany Cunila origanoides

Previously known as:

  • Cunila mariana
  • Hedyosmos origanoides
  • Mappia origanoides
  • Satureja origanoides
  • Ziziphora mariana
Description

American Dittany is a fragrant native herbaceous perennial of the mint family. The genus name cunila is Latin for marjoram. The species names origanoides is from origanum which means "like oregano." Its common name, Dittany, comes from diktamnon which is the Greek name for a similar mint plant Origanum dictamnus, Dittany of Crete. American Dittany is found in the central and eastern parts of the United States. The flowers appear in small purplish lavender clusters that bloom from August to September.

The easiest way to propagate this plant is by stem cuttings in the spring and summer. Typically roots will form on the stem cuttings in about 7-10 days. The plant may also be easily divided in the summer. The plant attracts bees, butterflies, and skippers for nectar and for pollination. There are no known disease or pest issues. This plant is deer and drought tolerant.

American Dittany prefers dry and shallow rocky soil and full sun to part shade. They perform best as an interesting border plant and are a good option for native gardens, naturalized areas, herb gardens, or rock gardens. American Dittany's showy lavender flowers and fragrant green leaves in the early fall are a welcome contrast in color from the typical autumnal colors. During frosts in the fall, American Dittany may also form "frost-like" flowers which result from the bursting and freezing of exposed sap pushed out from its stems.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#perennial#purple flowers#fragrant leaves#NC native#herbaceous perennial#rock gardens#border front#nectar plant mid-summer#wildflower
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#perennial#purple flowers#fragrant leaves#NC native#herbaceous perennial#rock gardens#border front#nectar plant mid-summer#wildflower
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cunila
    Species:
    origanoides
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used this plant medicinally
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    U.S. native
    Distribution:
    AL, AR, DL, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees, butterflies, and skippers are attracted to this plant for nectar and for pollination.
    Edibility:
    Used in teas and folk medicine remedies
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 9 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 9 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Creeping
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Schizocarp
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    In the fall after the blossoms fade, each flower will form 4 tiny dark brown nutlets that are 1 mm long and 0.7 mm wide. They are ellipsoid in shape and have 3 blunt angles. Due to their tiny dust-like size, they are easily blown away by the wind.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers appear in small clusters of typically purplish lavender on the tips of the stems or in the leaf axils. Each 1/4 to 1/3 inch flower is tubular in shape and has 2 upper lobed and 3 lower lobed tiny lips. The corolla is pink or lavender but rarely white. There are soft hairs along the outside of the lobes. The filaments of the stamen are white to light purple. The anthers are pink to lavender, but as the flower ages, they turn brown. The style is white to light purple. The flowers bloom from late summer to mid-autumn and generally last 1.5 months ( August to September).
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves range in color from yellowish-green, medium green, to dark green. They are small, opposite, lanceolate or ovate with pointed tips and cordate bases The leaf margins are slightly toothed. There is soft hair along major leaf veins. The leaf venation is pinnate. The leaves have a strong mint fragrance when crushed. In the fall after the first frost, the leaves change from dark green to deep reddish-purple.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The four sided stems are long and wiry. The stem surface is smooth to slightly hairy. The color of the stem is purplish-green to dark reddish-purple.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Rock Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators