BASTARD BALM

Melittis melissophyllum

Mint / Dead-Nettle Family [Lamiaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8white
 
flower
flower8pink
 
inner
inner8pink
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
stem
stem8square
 
smell
smell8sweet
sweet
toxicity
toxicityZlowish
 
rarity
rarityZscarce
 
sex
sexZbisexual
 

17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
It is a perennial herb which grows erect to 70cm high. Flowers in short spikes, the topmost the last to open, the bottom the first to fruit.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The flowers have long rear tubes emerging fron the sepal cup.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The corolla can be any colour between white, pink, mauve and blue.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
Like a snowman smartly dressed and ready for the ball. Oh look, we can see something green deep down your throat.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
This plant grows to 70cm high and has a fairly unique jizz: the leaves at the top are almost bolt-upright and above any flowers, which are in side-by-side pairs and large!


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The flowers at the top are yet to open, and have a pale-green 4--lobed calyx which has rounded (but with a tip at the end) lobes. The folded up flower (which looks like a white boxing glove) fits loosely within the sepal cup. The leaves near the top are bullate (have raised 'blisters' between the veins) whereas those lower down are flatter.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
Opened flowers are large, with the corolla being between 25 to 40mm across.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The flowers are zygomorphic, with 5 petals, a hood at the top above the sexual organs, two side-wings, and a longer lower petal which may either have 2 rounded lobes, or may be fused as this floret.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The very short hairs on the petals look as though they have glandular tips (tiny bobbles at the end). The upper lip of the flower can be flat or slightly hooded.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The 4 stamens with cream-coloured anthers are beneath the upper petal as well as an stigma and style somewhere. The corolla can be either white, or shaded pink to mauve, pink to purple or even blue on some plants. The upper petal has very short hairs, there may be fewer short hairs on the other petals(?).


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The sepal cup is pale green, has two lips, the upper one may have 2 or 3 short lobes. and is a very slack fit to the long tubular part of the flower before the petals. A side-view of the 4 anthers and stigma.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The sepal cup is pale green, has two lips, the upper one may have 2 or 3 short lobes. The flowers are in side-by-side pairs. The stem, if you could see it beyond the long hairs that surround it, is square.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The leaves are bullate (with bulges on the upper suface - they will be dimples underneath). Leaves hairy.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
The lower leaves are variously shaped cordate or ovate to rounded at the base.


17th May 2020, a woodland edge, South Devon. Photo: © Alison Tickner
It is very hairy, at least near the bottom.


Not to be semantically confused with : Bastard Agrimony (Aremonia agrimonioides), Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum), Bastard Toadflax (Thesium humifusum) or Tall Ramping-fumitory (Fumaria bastardii) [plants with similar names belonging to differing families].

Some similarities to : the even rarer [RRR] Wood Calamint (Clinopodium menthifolium).

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : See captions

It is a fairly rare [RR] which grows natively on the edge of woods, hedge banks or on shady rocks in South and Central England and in Wales - elsewhere it is a scattered rare garden escapee.


  Melittis melissophyllum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Lamiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Mint / Dead-Nettle family8Lamiaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Melittis
Melittis
(Bastard Balm)

BASTARD BALM

Melittis melissophyllum

Mint / Dead-Nettle Family [Lamiaceae]