Wild Bergamot Bee Balm
When I first moved into my Missouri limestone property, the hillside was covered in Wood Sage and Wild Bergamot, also called Horsemint and Bee Balm. Over the years, I have been coaxing both perennials back into my garden, marking spots where I know they have grown in the past and leaving nearby areas undisturbed.
Wild Bergamot, or Bee Balm, is a mint and looks like something Dr. Seuss would have drawn. The pink topknot holds the petals around a round seed head, fun to watch bobbing in wind. If you were a fan of The Muppets TV Show, you can easily join me in imagining these flowers in one of those sketches!
Wild bergamot and the more cultivated Bee Balm s a popular and showy perennial. Clusters of lavender, pink or white flowers, looking like ragged pompoms, bloom atop 2-5 ft., open-branched stems.
This Missouri native perennial has aromatic leaves used to make mint tea. Oil from the leaves was formerly used to treat respiratory ailments.
The plant was named in honor of a 16th century Spanish physician and botanist, Nicolas Bautista Monardes (1493-1588). Monardes never went to the Americas but was able to study medicinal plants in Spain because Spain controlled navigation and commerce from the New World.
Wild Bergamot makes a good cut flower and a nice addition to a bouquet of wildflowers. The unusual flower shape easily makes it stand out.
Now excuse while I go back to my garden, I see another Wild Bergamot patch I want to encourage to grow!