Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa


Monarda fistulosa

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Summer
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist, Dry
Color: Lavender
Fragrance: Yes
Height: 2-3 feet
Spacing: 2 feet

Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, also called Bee Balm or Horse-Mint has a lovely violet blossom and distinctively aromatic foliage. It is a familiar component of prairie and savanna communities on all but the wettest of soils. Wild Bergamot is a favorite of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Its species name, fistulosa, refers to the tube-like structure of its blossoms, which appear from July through September. It occurs in dryish soils on prairies, dry rocky woods and glade margins, unplanted fields and along roads and railroads. Bergamot is a clump-forming, mint family member that grows typically to 2-4 feet tall. Lavender, two-lipped, tubular flowers appear in dense, globular, solitary, terminal heads atop square stems. Each flower head is subtended by (rests upon) a whorl of showy, pinkish, leafy bracts. It has toothed, aromatic, oblong, grayish-green leaves.

The blooming period occurs during mid-summer and lasts about 1 month. The root system consists of deep, strongly branched roots, and shallow rhizomes that are responsible for the vegetative spread of the plant. These rhizomes typically send up multiple leafy stems in a tight cluster, giving Bergamot a bushy appearance.

Habitats include moist to slightly dry black soil prairies, hill prairies, sandy Black Oak woodlands, savannas and woodland borders, thickets, borders of limestone glades, abandoned pastures, and landfills. The rhizomes can survive earth-moving and bulldozing operations, and send up plants in unexpected places. Some local populations may be plants that have escaped cultivation.

Best grown in dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates somewhat poor soils and some drought. Plants need good air circulation.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Long tongued bees, butterflies, skippers, hummingbird moths and hummingbirds sip nectar from the flowers.
  The leaves have a minty fragrance.
   Leaves may be used in teas.
  Plant was used medicinally because of thymol’s aromatic and antiseptic properties.
  Deadhead flowers to prolong summer bloom.
   Tends to self-seed.
 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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