The Wild and Woolly Lamiaceaes


Creeping Red Thyme Up Close

Wild and Woolly Hair of Elfin Thyme


Creeping Red Thyme

Elfin Thyme

These hairy devils are really just little ground cover thymes.
 In fact, Elfin Thyme is the smallest of all the thymes, but check out those 'hairs'!

In contrast these Cat Thyme, Teucrium maru, leaves seem almost bald. Actually they have more hairs that are shorter, giving the leaves their downy appearance in this photo. When you look at the leaves normally they don't appear fuzzy, but almost waxy.

Cat Thyme's Short Hairs

Why hair? 

Well, some scientists think all the little hairs help absorb water and nutrients, and help reflect the sunlight. This would fit with the dry, hot climates many of these plants originate from.

There is even the possibility they deter predators. 
What bug in its right mind would want to chow down on a bunch of hair?

This photo is a blow up of a small piece of the Tricolor Sage, Salvia officinalis, leaf pictured below. The fuzzy texture of each cell is typical of the Lamiaceae family.

Tri Color Sage Leaf Up Close and Hairy

Whole Tricolor Sage Leaf

Salvia fruticosa Greek Sage

The Lamiaceae family used to be called the Labiatae family. Even though it contains over 200 Genera and over 6000 species, including this hairy Salvia fruticosa or Greek Sage,  this family is often referred to as the Mint Family. 

There are other similarities among the members of this group besides the presence of hair. Perhaps the most famous is the square stem. A lot of these are also highly aromatic and contain fragrant essential oils.

The Lamiaceae family contains a large number of the plants we normally think of as herbs. These include: Agastache (Licorice Mint), Lavandulas, Leonorus (Motherwort, Leonotus (Lion's tails), Marrubium (Horehound),Melissa (Lemon Balm), Menthas, Monardas, Nepetas (Catnips), Ocimums (Basils), Origanums, Rosmarinus, Salvias, Saturejas (Savorys), Teucriums, and Thymus. 

While it does seem that the Lamiaceaes contain most of the herbs we know, there are other herbs in other families (of course).

Fuzzy Fuzzy Arnica Leaves

Black Eyed Susan and its Hairy Stem

And, the Rudbeckia to the left and the Arnica above point out that the Lamiaceaes are not the only plants on the block with hair.

 It is so hard to keep a good idea a secret.

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