Macbridea

Scientific name

Macbridea Elliott

Common names

birds-in-a-nest, white birds-in-a-nest, Carolina birds-in-a-nest, Carolina bog mint

Family

Lamiaceae

Native distribution

Southeastern United States

Macbridea alba Chapm. is endemic to Florida

M. caroliniana (Walter) S.F. Blake is native to coastal Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina

Species cultivated

not currently cultivated

Adventive distribution

none

Weed status

not weedy; threatened

Habit

small ascending to erect, littoral herb

Brief description

Rhizomatous; stem typically simple or branched, erect, square, with swollen nodes, often pubescent; over-winters as a rosette. Leaves opposite; lower leaves with winged petioles, upper leaves sessile; leaf blade oblanceolate to elliptic; apex obtuse to acute; base attenuate or ± round; margin entire to shallowly serrate; venation pinnate, midrib prominent. Inflorescence a terminal, compact thyrse that appears as a dense cluster; bracts several, enclosing the calyx to form the “nest” of birds-in-a-nest. Flowers zygomorphic, bisexual, white or pink to lavender; calyx small; corolla tube 2-lipped, lower lip 3-lobed, upper lip cucullate.

Natural habitat

in marshes, bogs, swamps, mesic pine flatwoods, bottomland woodlands; in blackwater, less often in brown water

Additional comments

Macbridea contains two littoral species: Macbridea alba and M. caroliniana. Macbridea caroliniana is similar to several species of Physostegia, but can be distinguished by the following characteristics: Physostegia purpurea has an elongated, erect, branching inflorescence; P. leptophylla is typically a taller plant, with bluntly toothed leaves and a loose spike; and P. angustifolia has sharply toothed leaves. M. alba can be easily recognized by its white flowers.