Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot)
|Also known as:||Horsemint, Bee Balm, Mint-leaf Bea-balm|
|Habitat:||sun; dry fields, prairies, along roads|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||2 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Round cluster 1 to 2 inches across of tubular flowers, solitary at the end of branching stems arising from leaf axils. Color ranges from purple to lavender to pink, rarely white. Individual flowers have a ¼-inch wide curved lower lip and a thin straight upper lip. The upper lip has a tuft of white hairs at the tip, the lower is hairy on the underside and lobed with a short rectangular extension at the tip that is notched in 2 parts. 2 brown-tipped stamens extend beyond the tip of the upper lip. A tubular calyx holds each flower.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are coarsely toothed, 1 to 4 inches long and up to 1½ inches wide, rounded at the leaf base and tapering to a point at the tip, on leaf stalks up to 5/8 inch long. Leaves are hairy underneath and smooth or hairy on the upper surface. Attachment is opposite. The stem is a reddish brown color, square, and hairy to varying degrees.
There are 2 varieties of Wild Bergamot in Minnesota, var. fistulosa, very common throughout the state, and var. menthaefolia, a more western species found in only a few Minnesota counties. The latter is a shorter, little branched plant with leaf stalks that are rarely over 3/8 inch long, but is otherwise very similar. Wild Bergamot is one of my favorite flowers. In full bloom, the flower head looks like a little fireworks display. It is an excellent garden plant. The dried leaves and flower heads are wonderfully aromatic; Bergamot oils have been used in natural healing for centuries.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Wild Bergamot plants
- branching plant structure
- a patch of var. menthaefolia, in North Dakota
- developing seed head
- pink flowers
- atypical white flowers
Except where noted, photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey, Anoka and Dodge counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?