CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Dicerandra frutescens

c. Billy B. Boothe

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Dicerandra frutescens

Common Names: 
scrub balm, scrub mint
Growth Habit: 
CPC Number: 


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Dicerandra frutescensenlarge
Photographer: c. Billy B. Boothe

Dicerandra frutescens is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
S.K. Maddox contributed to this Plant Profile.

Dicerandra frutescens

Dicerandra frutescens is very similar in appearance to D. chrismanii, but D. frutescens, or scrub mint as it is often called, has a minty aroma rather than a menthol smell. The scrub mint, a short-lived perennial, grows from a deep, stout, spreading-branching taproot to a height of 50 cm. Its branches are spreading, and sometimes prostrate. Its shoots produce stems that are either leafy and overwintering or which are flowering and die back after fruiting. (USFWS 1999).

The leaves of the scrub mint vary in shape and are borne opposite one another on the stem with usually two smaller leaves at each node. The tubular flowers are borne in pairs with upper and lower lips. The pale pink with purplish-rose dots petals are 1.5 to 1.6 cm long. The plant usually flowers in September, producing fruits in four small nutlets. Reproduction is by seed (USFWS 1987).

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
State Range of  Dicerandra frutescens
  Dicerandra frutescens occurs in well-drained sand pine scrub communities on the Lake Wales Ridge of central Florida. These sands are yellow fine sand soils (USFWS 1987). In these soil types, scrub mint occurs adjacent to or within disturbed areas in sand pine scrub, oak scrub, and sandhill habitats. It occupies sites with shallow litter layers that have an incomplete, or non-existent, tree and shrub canopy (USFWS 1999).

  There is only a very small known range of the scrub mint. It occurs on the southern portion of Lake Wales Ridge in Highlands County, and is found from just north of Lake June in Winster, south to the Archbold Biological Station. This range lies just 10 km south of the range of Garrett's mint, with the two being separated by a slight break in the ridge at Josephine Creek (USFWS 1999). Scrub mint has also been reported in Polk County (Coile 2000).

Number Left
  Scrub mint is presently known from 4 localities in Highlands County. Within these localities it is found at 9 sites. Only is 1 protected and managed (at Archbold Biological Station).

Archbold Biological Station estimates the total population of Dicerandra frutescens is approximately 12,000 individuals (USFWS 1999).


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Florida S1 LE 4/1/1998  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Dicerandra frutescens is another of the gap-utilizing species; it inhabits open areas in the vegetation, not tolerating the shade from other plants. Scrub mint is not eaten by animals, as it contains essential oils that protect it. Cut leaves have been shown to repel ants, and the extracted aromatic chemicals have been shown to repel both ants and cockroaches. The only insect known to feed on scrub mint is the caterpillars of Pyralid months (USFWS 1999).

  • Modification and loss of habitat.
• Suppression of fire.
• Occasional removal for scientific purposes.
• Grows in readily accessible areas, suffers from trampling.
• Restricted range.
(USFWS 1991)

Current Research Summary
  • Under cultivation at Bok Tower Gardens.
• Archbold Biological Station is doing research on the scrub mint's breeding system, pollinators, demographic pattern, and genetic variability, as well as monitoring efforts. (Deyrup & Menges 1997)

Current Management Summary
  • Most populations are on privately owned lands.
• Under management plan at Archbold Biological Station.
(USFWS 1999).

Research Management Needs
  • Surveys on protected lands and in Highlands County.
• Acquire or otherwise protect privately owned habitat.
• Protect populations on public lands.
• Continue ex situ conservation efforts.
• Enforce protective measures.
• Augment natural populations of D. frutescens.
• Continue research on life history characteristics of scrub mint.
• Monitor existing and reintroduced populations.
• Provide public information about the scrub mint.
(USFWS 1999)

Ex Situ Needs
  • Conserve germ plasm; seeds are not presently in long-term storage.
• Maintain ex situ collection.
(USFWS 1999).


Books (Single Authors)

Coile, N.C. 2000. Notes on Florida's Regulated Plant Index (Rule 5B-40), Botany Contribution 38. Gainesville, Florida: Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.

FNAI. 2000. Field Guide to the Rare Plants and Animals of Florida online. Florida Natural Areas Inventory.

Huck, R.B. 1987. Systematics and evolution of Dicerandra (Labiatae) (Phanerogamarum monographiae XIX). Stuttgart, Germany: Gebruder Borntraeger Verlagsbuchhand-lung.

Ward, D.B. 1979. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida Volume 5: Plants. Gainseville, FL: University Presses of Florida.

Books (Sections)

Dolan, R.W.; Menges, E.S. 1998. Chapter 9: Genetic Variation in Nolina brittoniana and Dicerandra Species. In: Menges, E.S.; Dolan, R.W.; Gordon, D.R.; Evans, E.K.; Yahr, R., editors. Demography, ecology, and preserve design for endemic plants of the Lake Wales Ridge, Florida: Final report to The Nature Conservancy's ecosystem research program.

Pavlovic, N.B. 1994. Disturbance-dependent persistence of rare plants: anthropogenic impacts and restoration implications. In: Bowles, M.L.; Whelan, C., editors. Recovery and Restoration of Endangered Species. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. p 159-193.

Electronic Sources

Denton, S. (2001). Photo Library of Native and Naturalized Plants of Florida. Biological Research Associates. http://www.biolresearch.com/Plants/index.php?id=C. Accessed: 2002.

USGS. (2002). Status of Listed Species and Recovery Plan Development. [Web site] USGS: Norther Prairie Wildlife Research Center. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/others/recoprog/plant.htm. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

1988. Botanists Discover Two New and Rare Species. Plant Conservation: A Publication of the Center for Plant Conservation. 3, 3

Corin, C.W. 1988. Approved Recovery Plans. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 13, 4: 3-4.

Deyrup, M.A.; Menges, E.S. 1997. Pollination Ecology of the Rare Scrub Mint Dicerandra frutescens (Lamiaceae). Florida Scientist. 60, 3: 143–157.

Eisner, T.; McCormick, K.D.; Sakaino, M.; Eisner, M.; Smedley, S.R.; Aneshansley, D.J.; Deyrup, M.; Myers, R.L.; Meinwald, J. 1990. Chemical defense of a rare mint plant. Chemoecology. 1, 1: 30-37.

Huck, R.B.; Judd, W.S.; Whitten, W.M.; Skean, J.D., Jr.; Wunderlin, R.P.; Delaney, K.R. 1989. A new Dicerandra (Labiatae) from the Lake Wales Ridge of Florida, with a cladistic analysis and discussion of endemism. Systematic Botany. 14, 2: 197-213.

Huck, Robin B. 2001. Two new infraspecific taxa in Florida Dicerandra (Labiatae). Novon. 11: 417-420.

Kral, R.D. 1982. Some notes on Dicerandra (Lamiaceae). Sida. 9, 3: 238-262.

Martin, T. 2000. Florida's Desert: Saving a vanishing treasure. Plant Talk. 21: 26-29.

McCormick, K.D.; Deyrup, M.A.; Menges, E.S.; Wallace, S.R.; Meinwald, J.; Eisner, T. 1993. Relevance Of Chemistry To Conservation Of Isolated Populations: The Case Of Volatile Leaf Components Of Dicerandra Mints. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 90, 16: 7701-7705.

McDonald, D.B.; Hamrick, J.L. 1996. Genetic variation in some plants of Florida scrub. American Journal of Botany. 83, 1: 21-27.

Menges, E.S.; McIntyre, P.J.; Finer, M.S.; Goss, E.; Yahr, R. 1999. Microhabitat of the narrow Florida scrub endemic Dicerandra christmanii, with comparisons to its congener D. frutescens. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 126, 1: 24-31.

Menges, E.S. 1992. Habitat preferences and response to disturbance for Dicerandra frutescens, a Lake Wales Ridge, Florida, endemic plant. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 119, 3: 303-313.

Menges, E.S.; Dolan, R.W.; Yahr, R.; Gordon, D.R. 2001. Comparative genetics of seven plants endemic to Florida’s Lake Wales Ridge. Castanea. 66: 98-114.

Shinners, L.H. 1962. Synopsis of Dicerandra (Labiatae). Sida. 1, 2: 89-91.

Sletto, J.W. 1991. Plants in Peril. Outdoor America. 21-24.

Smedley, S.R.; McCormick, K.D.; Eisner, T. 1990. Interaction of Pyrausta panopealis (Pyralidae) with a newly-reported host, the endangered mint Dicerandra frutescens (Labiatae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society. 44: 156-162.

USFWS. 1982. Regional Briefs--Region 4. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 7, 5: 3.

USFWS. 1985. Determination of Endangered Status for Two Florida Scrub Mints. Federal Register. 50, 212: 45621-45624.

USFWS. 1985. Final Protection Given to Eight Plants. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 10, 4: 5-7.

USFWS. 1985. Final Protection Given to Four Plants. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 10, 11: 4-5.

USFWS. 1985. Proposed Endangered Status for Dicerandra frutescens (Scrub Balm), and Dicerandra cornutissima (Longspurred Balm). Federal Register. 50, 61: 12587-12590.

USFWS. 2001. A newsletter dedicated to sharing information about the Florida scrub ecosystem. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Saving Our Scrub. 2, 3: 8.

Wallace, S.R.; McMahan, L.R. 1988. A Place in the Sun for the Plants. Garden. 12, 1: 20-23.

Newspaper Articles

Deyrup, M.A.; Eisner, T. 1990. Chemical Prospectors Discover Natural Insect Repellent in Nearly Extinct Florida Plant. Cornell University Press Release; Ithaca, NY. 3 pp.

Hinnant, Lee. 1988. Rare plant repels insect attackers with tiny 'grenades' of chemicals. Tampa Tribune; Tampa, FL.


MacAllister, B.A.; Harper, M.G. 1998. Management of Florida Scrub for Threatened and Endangered Species. US Army Corps of Engineers, Construction Engineering Research Laboratories. p.95. USACERL Technical Report 99/19.

Menges, E.S. 1995. Report on Experimental Research and Monitoring of Four Species of Endangered Plants on the Lake Wales Ridge, Florida. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Division of Forestry: Statewide Endangered and Threatened Plant Conservation Program.

Menges, E.S.; Weekley, Carl W. 1999. Final Report on Continued Ecological Monitoring and Experimental Research on Four Florida Scrub Endemic Plants. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Division of Forestry: Statewide Endangered and Threatened Plant Conservation Program.

Menges, E.S.; Yahr, R. 1996. Continued Ecological Monitoring and Research on Four Florida Scrub Plants. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Division of Forestry: Statewide Endangered and Threatened Plant Conservation Program.

Menges, E.S.; Yahr, R. 1998. Final Report on Continued Ecological Monitoring and Experimental Research on Four Florida Scrub Endemic Plants. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Division of Forestry: Statewide Endangered and Threatened Plant Conservation Program.

USFWS. 1987. Recovery Plan for Three Florida Mints. Atlanta, GA: Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife. p.21.

USFWS. 1999. South Florida Multi-species Recovery Plan. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region.

Wunderlin, R.P. 1984. Status report on Dicerandra frutescens Shinners. Jacksonville, Florida: Unpublished report prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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