July 9, 2017

MONTANA : Glacier Wildflowers - Bee Balm

Monarda fistulosa

Bee Balm
Family : Lamiaceae
Genus  : Monarda

Newly opened Wild Bergamot flower - Bee Balm, Glacier National Park, Montana

Monarda fistulosa

Monarda fistulosa, the wild bergamot or bee balm, is a wildflower in the mint family (Lamiaceae) widespread and abundant as a native plant in much of North America. This plant, with showy summer-blooming pink to lavender flowers, is often used as a honey plant, medicinal plant, and garden ornamental. The species is quite variable, and several subspecies or varieties have been recognized within it.

Monarda fistulosa is an herbaceous perennial that grows from slender creeping rhizomes, thus commonly occurring in large clumps. The plants are typically up to 3 ft (0.9 m) tall, with a few erect branches. Its leaves are about 2-3 in (5–8 cm) long, lance-shaped, and toothed. Its compact flower clusters are solitary at the ends of branches. Each cluster is about 1.5 in (4 cm) long, containing about 20–50 flowers. Wild bergamot often grows in rich soils in dry fields, thickets, and clearings, usually on limy soil. The plants generally flower from June to September.

Monarda fistulosa ranges from Quebec to the Northwest Territories and British Columbia, south to Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, and northeastern Washington.

The plant is noted for its fragrance, and is a source of oil of thyme.

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