Mints of the Mountains II – Monarda (aka Beebalm)

orangetingeBBeloved for its bright red flowers, the Bee Balm, known to botanists as Monarda didyma, has been blooming for several weeks in the Catskills region. This perennial species of Monarda is often found growing wild, and is also popular in the garden. It is a truly native wildflower and is the most common species of Monarda found in the Catskills area.monarda patch




monardaleavesBmonardaleavesACompared to the mints I discussed in Mints of the Mountains, which are short and function in the garden as ground covers, Monarda is a much taller plant. But it retains the square stems and irregular flowers characteristic of other plants in the Mint family.  It also shares with other mints the characteristic of having aromatic leaves. It is called False Bergamot for the resemblance of its aroma to that of the true bergamot, a citrus fruit whose rind is used to flavor Earl Grey tea.



The flower head is an aggregate of many flowers. Each flower has a long tube; it is unscented, red and nectar rich and is designed specifically to be attractive to the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which is its chief pollinator.monarda flwrheadA monardaflwrcloseup

One Comment

  1. WOW… Never heard it called false Bergamot.
    I use the leaves in tea and the kids like to eat the petals. The flowers can be placed on your table for like an after dinner mint. I have eaten a leaf here and there. This plant is used as a diuretic. So make sure you drink an extra glass of water here and there when you use this plant in your food supply. The bees and humming birds love this plant.

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