Wild Flowers and Plants of NC

Bee Balm
Bee Balm
Monarda didyma
aka.... Oswego Tea, Bergamot

A beautiful, bright red flower that grows in dense clusters along spring banks, flowering from July to late August. It is a member of the mint family and grows 3 to 4 feet tall. It is very simlar in appearance to Monarda fistulosa.

The leaves of the plant have been used traditionally to make a strongly mint flavored tea that is said to be good for fever, stomach problems and restful sleep. The leaves are simmered for 10 minutes to bring out the full flavor. The name "Oswego Tea" reflects its popularity and refers to the fact that it is an abundant plant in the Oswego region of New York near Lake Ontario. Another of its common names, Bergamot, comes from its fragrant resemblance to the bergamot orange, which it isn't related to.

Besides its medicinal qualitites, the flowers and leaves are good ingredients for potpourri making. The oil of the plant has been an ingredient in perfumery. The intense red color, distinctive fragrance and the nectar it produces make this a popular plant with bees and humingbirds. It is used in the garden, but being a member of the mint family it can become invasive.

Range of Monarda didyma
NC Range of Monarda didyma