Wild Bergamot

Scientific Name(s): Monarda fistulosa
Abundance: uncommon
What: flower
How: tea; flavoring
Where: shady, moist areas
When: late spring, summer, early fall
Nutritional Value: unknown
Dangers: bees love these flowers

Medicinal Summary:
Flowers/Leaves/Stem - soothes irritated skin; antibacterial; relieves indigestion; sweat inducer; stimulant; diuretic; helps pass kidney stones; pain reliever; expectorant; headache reducer; soothes sore throat (poultice, tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are arranged opposite-alternating along the stem. Two leaves will be directly opposite one another, but the leaf pairs above and below will be rotated 90 degrees around the stem.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are lanceolate to ovate, measuring 2 to 4 inches in length and 0.5 to 2 inches in width.

Leaf Venation: Pinnate venation is observed, with prominent veins running parallel to each other.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margin is toothed, with small serrations along the edges.

Leaf Color: The leaves exhibit a medium green coloration.

Flower Structure: Flowers are tubular in shape and are arranged in dense, terminal, spherical clusters known as inflorescences.

Flower Color: The flowers display lavender to pink-purple coloring.

Fruit: The fruit consists of small nutlets, but it is not often a significant feature for identification.

Seed: Small and irregularly shaped seeds are present but are not typically used for identification.

Stem: The stem is square-shaped and its color can vary from green to purple.

Hairs: Fine hairs can be found on the stem and sometimes on the leaves of this plant.

Height: Monarda fistulosa typically reaches a height of 2 to 4 feet.

Wild Bergamot flowers.



Texas distribution, attributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

North American distribution, attributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Stands of wild bergamot flowers dot the Texas countryside during summer. They prefer shade and moist soil so look for them under trees along drainage ditches and near ponds. What looks like a single big flower is actually a cluster of many long, tubular flowers...usually swarming with bees! Being a mint, they have the mint family's square, hollow stem and opposite-alternating leaves.

The flower makes a great tea with a sweet, herbal flavor similar to its smell. The flowers can be dried for later use but I prefer them fresh off the plant. A tincture (alcohol extract) made from wild bergamot is supposedly an excellent oral treatment for yeast infections. It also is used medicinally in the same manner as other mints. When smoked it SUPPOSEDLY delivers the antibiotics directly to the lungs to fight lung infections but I can't confirm this.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

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