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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - October 03, 2009

From: Williamston, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of a white beebalm
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a photo of what looks like Bee Balm but it is white in color. What is the name of this wildflower?

ANSWER:

There are several plants with the common name of beebalm and all of them are in the genus Monarda.  Another common name for beebalm is bergamot.  You can see from the distribution maps on the USDA Plants Database that there are six species of Monarda that can be found in South Carolina (assuming that this was where your photo was taken).  The most likely candidate for the flower of your photo is Monarda clinopodia (white bergamot).  Its blossoms can be either white or pink.  You can see more photos and a distribution map from USDA Plants Database and still more photos from North Carolina Native Plant Society.

The other beebalms or bergamots that occur in South Carolina are:

Monarda media (purple bergamot)

Monarda fistulosa (beebalm or wild bergamot)

Monarda citriodora (lemon beebalm)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Monarda punctata (spotted beebalm)

If you think your photo isn't Mondarda clinopodia (white bergamot), it might be possible that you have an albino mutant of one of the other beebalms or bergamots that occur in South Carolina or it is another flower that isn't one of the Monarda species but looks similar.  If you would like for us to verify the identity of your flower, please send the photo(s) to us and we will do our best to identify it.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos.

Here are photos of both the white version and the pink version of Monarda clinopodia:


Monarda clinopodia

Monarda clinopodia

 

 

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