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Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Monarda citriodora

Monarda citriodora Cerv. ex Lag.

Lemon Beebalm, Purple Horsemint, Lemon Mint, Plains Horsemint, Lemon Horsemint, Horsemint, Purple Lemon Mint

Lamiaceae (Mint Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Known by a number of common names, lemon beebalm is a 1-2+ ft., aromatic winter annual with unusual, tuft-like, lavender to pink, whorled flower heads. Each whorl in the elongated spike is subtended by whitish or lavender, leaf-like bracts. Several stems grow from the base and are lined with pairs of lance-shaped leaves.

Horsemint has a distinctive citrus or lemony scent when the leaves are rubbed or crushed. It is very easy to grow and often forms large colonies. Bees and butterflies are attacted to this plant.

Linnaeus named the genus Monarda in honor of a 16th century Spanish physician and botanist, Nicolas Bautista Monardes (1493-1588). Monardes studied medicinal plants brought back to Spain from the New World.


From the Image Gallery

219 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Size Notes: Up to about 30 inches tall.
Fruit: Nutlets.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Main flowering period is May-Jul. With abundant moisture will continue flowering through the end of summer into early October.


USA: AL , AR , AZ , FL , GA , IL , KS , KY , LA , MO , MS , NE , NM , OK , SC , TN , TX , UT
Native Distribution: E. KY, MO & KS, s. to AR, TX, NM & Mex.; introduced eastward
Native Habitat: Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannas, Hillsides, Slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy loam to rocky soils. Clay Loam, Medium Loam, Sandy Loam, Sandy, Clay
Conditions Comments: Bees and butterflies are especially attracted to this pretty plant. It often occurs in large masses. Lemon mint is very easy to grow and often forms large colonies. It can become aggressive if given optimum growing conditions. It is susceptible to powdery mildew.


Use Ornamental: Wildflower meadow, Long-blooming, Shortgrass meadow, Easily grown, Blooms ornamental, Aromatic
Use Wildlife: Bees and butterflies are attacted to this plant. Nectar-Butterflies, Nectar-Bees, Nectar-insects
Use Food: Leaves used raw or cooked for flavoring in salads, cooked foods, and for tea.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Easily grown from seed. Spread the seed evenly and rake into loose topsoil in fall or early spring. Supplemental watering is suggested if spring rains are poor. Provide additional water in May if necessary until the plants reach 10 – 12 inches tall. Once established, should reseed itself. Seeding rate is 3 pounds/acre. There are approximately 819,000 seeds/pound.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Allow seeds to mature completely (spherical heads become dry and brown) before mowing or cutting down. Since it is an annual, it is essential this species be allowed to reseed itself for the following year.

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Edible Native Plants for a Small Austin Garden
March 15, 2010
Hello Mr. Smarty Plants (or Mrs. or Miss, whomever is answering this go'round)! First off, thank you so much for all the help you have given me in the past. Secondly, the company my husband works ...
view the full question and answer

Wildlife uses of wildflowers in Central Texas
May 01, 2006
How are wildflowers in Central Texas used by wildlife?
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
National Butterfly Center - Mission, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0058 Collected May 19, 1990 in Bexar County by Lottie Millsaps
NPSOT 0015 Collected May 17, 1990 in Bexar County by Judith C. Berry
NPSOT 0159 Collected May 22, 1991 in Bexar County by Lottie Millsaps
NPSOT 0331 Collected May 22, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

4 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-28 Collected 2006-06-19 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 36 - Useful wild plants of Texas, the Southeastern and Southwestern United States, the Southern Plains, and Northern Mexico (Volume 1: Abronia-Arundo) (1995) S. Cheatham; M. C. Johnston; L. Marshall
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1986 VOL. 3, NO.3 - Fall Planting Tips, Growth Provides Enthusiasm, 1985 Financial Facts, Gathering ...
Wildflower Newsletter 1986 VOL. 3, NO.4 - Fall Highlights Busy Season at the Center, Wildflower Days Welcome the Holidays,...
Wildflower Newsletter 1993 VOL. 10, NO.3 - Miss Helen Hayes Memorial, Director's Report, Monarda Medicinal Mints of Distinc...
Wildflower Newsletter 1997 VOL. 14, NO.4 - Pollination and Pollinators, Big Bugs Exhibit, A Taste of Honey, Executive Direc...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Monarda citriodora in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Monarda citriodora in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Monarda citriodora


Record Modified: 2023-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff, LAL, MAC

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