Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is a herbaceous flowering plant native to North America. It is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is also commonly referred to as bee balm, horsemint, or wild oregano. Wild Bergamot is a perennial plant that typically grows to a height of 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters). It has square stems that are slightly hairy and aromatic leaves that are lance-shaped and toothed. The leaves are usually a dark green color.
Flowers: The plant produces attractive flowers in dense, spherical clusters at the top of the stems. The flowers are tubular, about an inch (2.5 centimeters) long, and vary in color from pink to lavender to purple. They have a unique appearance, with protruding stamens that give the flower cluster a spiky appearance.
Fragrance: Wild Bergamot has a strong, pleasant aroma, which is similar to the scent of the bergamot orange. This fragrance attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, making it a popular choice for gardens and landscapes.
Distribution: Wild Bergamot is native to North America and can be found throughout the United States and Canada, except for some western and northern regions. It is often found in open fields, meadows, prairies, and along roadsides.
Cultural Uses: The Native American tribes have traditionally used Wild Bergamot for various medicinal and culinary purposes. The leaves and flowers can be brewed into a tea that is said to have relaxing and soothing properties. The plant also has antimicrobial properties and has been used topically for treating minor wounds and skin irritations.
Garden Cultivation: Wild Bergamot is popular among gardeners for its attractive flowers, fragrance, and ability to attract pollinators. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-drained soils. It can tolerate a range of soil conditions and is relatively drought-tolerant once established. Wild Bergamot can spread through rhizomes, so it's important to provide enough space in the garden to accommodate its growth.
Wild Bergamot is not related to the citrus fruit known as bergamot, which is used to flavor Earl Grey tea. The name "bergamot" refers to the similar aroma between the two plants.