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Monarda didyma

Template:Distinguish Template:Taxobox Monarda didyma (crimson beebalm, scarlet beebalm, scarlet monarda, Oswego tea, or bergamot) is an aromatic herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to eastern North America from Maine west to Ontario and Minnesota, and south to northern Georgia.<ref>Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families</ref><ref>Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution map</ref><ref>USDA Plants Profile: Monarda didyma</ref> Its odor is considered similar to that of the bergamot orange (the source of bergamot oil used to flavor Earl Grey tea). The scientific name comes from Nicolas Monardes, who described the first American flora in 1569.<ref>Template:GRIN</ref>

Monarda didyma seed head

Description

This hardy perennial plant grows to 0.7-1.5 m in height, with the stems square in cross-section. The leaves are opposite on the square stems, 6–15 cm long and 3–8 cm broad, and dark green with reddish leaf veins and a coarsely toothed margin; they are glabrous or sparsely pubescent above, with spreading hairs below. It has ragged, bright red tubular flowers 3–4 cm long, borne on showy heads of about 30 together, with reddish bracts. It grows in dense clusters along stream banks, thickets, and ditches, flowering from mid- to late summer.<ref>Missouri Plants: Monarda didyma</ref>

Cultivation and uses

Crimson beebalm is extensively grown as an ornamental plant, both within and outside its native range; it is naturalized further west in the United States and also in parts of Europe and Asia. It grows best in full sun, but tolerates light shade and thrives in any moist, but well-drained soil. Several cultivars have been selected for different flower color, ranging from white through pink to dark red and purple.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Beebalm has a long history of use as a medicinal plant by many Native Americans, including the Blackfeet. The Blackfeet Indians recognized this plant's strong antiseptic action, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds.Template:Citation needed A herbal tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis.Template:Citation needed Beebalm is a natural source of the antiseptic thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago used a herbal tea made from beebalm as a general stimulant.Template:Citation needed It was also used as a carminative herb by Native Americans to treat excessive flatulence.<ref>Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, Gregory L. Tilford, Template:ISBN</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Monarda didyma

References

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