Sunday, July 8, 2007
Monarda (bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea, or bergamot)
BZZZ, BZZZ, BZZZ is the sound you hear when you are near the Bee Balm (that is what I call it).. If you are lucky you may even catch a hummingbird. These flowers/herb are very attractive for bees and hummingbirds. These are native to North America and the one picture is a genuine wildflower, I found on a hike in Illinois. Many cultivars have been made for the home gardner like myself..
In my own garden my cultivated variety spreads like wildfire and needs divided every couple of years to maintain the health and vigor of the plant. I put it in the back of my beds to encourage the pollenation by the bees for the other plants. They are in the back because they have a tendancy to get about 2 1/2 feet tall. I also find that it pops up in places I haven't put it too.
What fascinated me was the use of the monarda. My ancestors who crossed the plains going West used the plant for medicinal purposes. The plant was found all along the trek, so it was in good supply. They used it to treat headaches and fevers. They would crush the leaves and steep in hot water to make a tea. I wonder what else they used it for?