Wild Bergamot

Other names: bee balm, horsemint

Blooming time: July to September

Height: about 5 ft.

Stems and Leaves: Wild bergamot has a sturdy square stem that is usually branched and somewhat hairy at the top. Leaves are opposite; each pair at right angles to the adjacent pair. They are oval in shape but narrow and pointed toward the tip. Edges are unevenly toothed. Both leaves and stem have a minty aroma that lasts into winter long after the foliage is dead.

Flowers and Fruit: The flowers of wild bergamot are slender pink to lavender tubes, each with a distinct lip or lobe. These inch-long tubes cluster together in dense, ragged heads that may be 1 1/2 incles across. Stamens protrude from the tubes.

Interesting facts: Winnebago and Blackfoot boiled the leaves to get an oil that they used to treat pimples. Meskwaki used the plant in a mixture to cure colds. Navajos and early pioneers made a tea of wild bergamot to treat fevers, sore throat, colds, and headache. Sometimes warm liquid from the boiled leaves was used to bathe a patient suffering from chills. Vapors from boiling the dried herb were used to treat bronchial ailments. A tea made from the roots was used to treat stomach disorders.

 
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Page last updated March 24, 2015
Text resources: Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie- The Upper Midwest, Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa;
A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Northeastern and North-central North America, Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny
Photo by Barb McGee - bjmcreations.com