Monarda fistulosa L.
Wild Bergamot, Beebalm
Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
USDA Symbol: mofi
Wild bergamot, known by many other common names, is 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 showy perennial, frequently cultivated, has aromatic leaves used to make mint tea. Oil from the leaves was formerly used to treat respiratory ailments. The leaves smell minty.
Linnaeus named the genus Monarda 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.
"fistulosa" means tubular.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers in 2 to 4 inch heads.
Fruit: Nutlets, brown, 4.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , AZ , CO , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NT , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Most of southern Canada and the United States east of the Rockies, except Maritime Provinces, and peninsular Florida, south to Veracruz in eastern Mexico.
Native Habitat: Grows in dry open woods, fields, wet meadows and ditches, and at the edges of woods and marshes in the eastern fourth of Texas. Well-drained but moist sand, loam, clay; acidic or calcareous soils. Zones 4 to 8.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2) , Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: Medium
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Thrives in a wide range of soils, from acid to lime to rich to poor to sand to clay. Less tolerant of flooding, but can take it in the winter.
Conditions Comments: Prevent mildew by providing good drainage and air circulation.
BenefitUse Ornamental: A hardy garden standard, with brilliant blooms and pleasantly fragrant foliage, many cultivars. Though prone to mildew in soils that aren't well aerated, selection 'Claire Grace' is more mildew resistant.
Use Wildlife: Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Use Food: Leaves boiled for tea, used for seasoning, chewed raw or dried; flowers edible.
Use Medicinal: Long ago, oil from the leaves was used to treat respiratory ailments. (Niering) Amerindians used leaf tea for colic, flatulence, colds, fevers, stomach aches, nosebleeds, insomnia, & heart trouble. For measles used to induce sweating; pulticed leaves for headaches. (Foster & Duke) Boiled dried plant to extract oil which was inhaled to relieve bronchial complaints, tea of plant used to reduce low fevers, to sooth sore throat, headache and colds, oil used to dry up pimples, boiled leaves applied directly to pimples. (Weiner) Tea from flower clusters used for fevers and colds, tea made from leaves used for coughs and whooping cough, boiled leaves placed in soft cloth placed over sore eyes and pimples, tea of leaves or flowers for adominal pain and to sooth the kidneys. (Kindscher) Infuse as a tea to relieve nausea, flatulence, menstrual pain and insomnia. Tru steam inhalation for bronchial catarrh and sore throats. (Bremness)
Use Other: The fragrant leaves can be used for perfume.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationPropagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Very easy to start from seed.
Seed Collection: Seeds ripen 2 months after plant blooms.
Seed Treatment: Seeds do not need to be cold stratified.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Colonizes by rhizomes so lift and divide every 3 years to contain it, improve air circulation and improve plant vigor.
Find Seed or Plants
Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Native flowers for Door County, Wisconsin
September 02, 2009
We recently were required to put in a new septic system on our vacation property in Door County, WI. This left us with a clearing on our wooded lot where the septic field is now located. The installer...
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 1207 - Earth Medicine, Earth Food (1990) Michael A. Weiner
Bibref 307 - Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest: Including recipes, harmful plants, natural dyes, and textile fibers: A Practical Guide (1999) Tull, D.
Bibref 610 - Edible wild plants of the prairie : an ethnobotanical guide (1987) Kindscher, K.
Bibref 417 - Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America (2000) Foster, S. & J. A. Duke
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 1209 - The Complete Book of Herbs (1988) Lesley Bremness
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Monarda fistulosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Monarda fistulosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Monarda fistulosa
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff, MAC