This species is named for John Torrey, the famous New york botanist who wrote the first Flora if New York in 1843. A recently discovered population on Staten Island was almost destroyed by the construction of a shopping center.
There are three existing populations but all of them are small or highly threatened. Most of the eight historical records occur in areas that are highly developed in the New York City area and are considered extirpated. There is a slight possibility that a few historical records could be rediscovered or new populations found in protected areas in the Lower Hudson region.
The small existing populations are threatened by succession and by development.
This plant was never common in New York. Many of the historical records have been extirpated by development while a few new populations have been discovered. If these trends continue this species may not persist.
A roadside population is threatened by nearby development and road maintenance. Other populations could be threatened by succession of the open meadow community if areas were allowed to succeed to woody plants.
Open areas need to be maintained without directly damaging plants. This can be done at the appropriate time of year after seed has been disbursed. Plants should be protected from direct destruction by habitat alteration.
Genetic studies should be performed on the populations to determine the relationship among populations in New York and among populations range wide. Genetic studies could also help separate this species from closely related species that also occur within its range. Habitat preference studies are needed to understand why this species is so restricted in distribution locally and range-wide.
In New York Torrey's Mountain Mint has been found in dry, open habitats, including red cedar barrens, rocky summits, trails, and roadsides (New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). Dry, often fertile, woods and thickets (Fernald 1970). Dry upland woods (Gleason & Cronquist 1991).
This species is known only from Rockland and Dutchess Counties at the southern end of the state.
Pycnanthemum torreyi reaches the northeastern limit of its current range in New York State (it is believed to have been extirpated from New Hampshire), and is found in the Atlantic states south as far as South Carolina. It is also found inland in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It is believed to have also been extirpated from Illinois and Missouri, but is present in Kansas. It is a species of conservation concern throughout most of its range.
Torrey's Mountain-mint is best identified when flowering or fruiting.
Pycnanthemum torrei most closely resembles P.verticillatum, from which it differs by its leaves and bracts being glabrous on the upper surface, (those of P. verticillatum evidently hairy above). P. torrei also has longer (1 to 1.5 mm) and sharper calyx teeth (those of P. verticillatum .5 to 1 mm long and triangular).
P. virginianum has stem pubescence confined to the stem angles, and P. tenuifolium has a glabrous stem, in contrast to the uniformly finely pubescent stems of Pycnanthemum torrei.
This species flowers from mid-July through August, and the fruits persist to early October.
The time of year you would expect to find Torrey's Mountain Mint flowering and fruiting in New York.
Torrey's Mountain Mint
Pycnanthemum torreyi Benth.
This may be a hybrid which does not persist for long. Taxonomic work is needed.
Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.
Clemants, Steven and Carol Gracie. 2006. Wildflowers in the Field and Forest. A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 445 pp.
Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.
Grant, Elizabeth and Carl Epling. 1943. A study of Pycnanthemum (Labiatae). University Of California Publications in Botany 20: 195-240.
Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Snyder, D.B. 1994. Additions, range extensions, reinstatements, and relocations in the New Jersey flora. Bartonia 58: 79-96.
Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York
Weldy, Troy W. and David Werier. 2005. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research. University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, NY. Available on the web at (http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/).
Information for this guide was last updated on: December 22, 2008
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Pycnanthemum torreyi. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/torreys-mountain-mint/. Accessed November 21, 2019.