Monarda fistulosa

Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa is a popular and showy perennial. Often referred to as bee balm, it has aromatic leaves used to make mint tea. Oil from the leaves was formerly used to treat respiratory ailments.

We learned from the Lady Bird Johnson Garden Center that Linnaeus named the genus Monarda in honor of a 16th century Spanish physician and botanist, Nicolas Bautista Monardes (1493-1588). Monardes never went to the Americas but was able to study medicinal plants in Spain because Spain controlled navigation and commerce from the New World. “Fistulosa” means tubular.

Monarda fistulosa leaves are boiled for tea and used for seasoning. It’s flowers are edible; Lady Bird Johnson Center reports research to indicate that Native Americans used Wild Bergamot leaf tea for colic, gas, colds, fevers, stomach aches, nosebleeds, insomnia and heart trouble. Tea from the flower was used for fevers and colds. Often used for pollinator gardens and as deer resistant borders.

SPECS: Genus: Monarda ; Species: Fistulosa; Plant Type: Forb; Life Cycle: Perennial; Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade; Soil Moisture: Medium Wet, Medium Dry, Well Drained; Height: 2′ — 5′; Spread: 2′; Plant Spacing: 1′ — 2′; Bloom Time: June — September; Bloom Color: Lavender, Pink, White; Advantages: Deep root system, Medicinal uses; USDA Zone: 3 — 8; Attracts: Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Songbirds; Tolerant: Clay, Deer, Drought, Dry soils, Rocky soil; Plant Community: Wild Bergamot pairs well with Big Bluestem, Yellow Coneflower, Wild Lupine, and Butterfly Weed. ;