Flower of the Day: Basil Balm

aka Basil Bee-Balm, White Bergamot, White Bee-Balm, White Basil Balm…  Monarda clinopodia; Lamiaceae (mint family)

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Despite the word “bergamot” in one of the common names, this species (and others in this genus) has absolutely nothing in common with the oil that flavors your cup of Earl Grey tea (that comes from a citrus fruit).  Many Native American tribes used Monarda species for medicinal teas, though.

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Seventeen native species of Monarda can be found in various parts of the continental US.  Basil Balm ranges from Vermont south to Georgia and west to Missouri, though it is endangered in New York and New Jersey.  It grows 3-4 feet tall and is an important food source for bees.  Butterflies like it, too.

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