February 27, 2020

Hip to be Square

Stachys palustris - Marsh Woundwort or Marsh Hedgenettle

Stachys palustris – Marsh Woundwort or Marsh Hedgenettle | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Stachys palustris doesn’t get a lot of love in the common name arena. It is called marsh woundwort or marsh hedgenettle, neither of which sound comfortable or particularly cozy. The plant, however, is a sweet thing, native to Maine and a good portion of the eastern United States. The purple flowers appear in a spikelike cluster atop the stem. The plant can grow up to 30 inches or so tall and blossoms in late summer. A perennial in Zone 5, this edible herb produces a tuber that can be eaten raw or cooked and seemingly can be ground up into a powder used in breads. And why is it hip to be square if one is Stachys palustris? As a member of the mint family, marsh hedgenettle has a square stem. It also is hairy, but we doubt it is hip to be hairy even if one is a plant.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.