Thursday, 1 September 2016

Plant of the month September 2016

Monarda didyma (Bee balm, Wild bergamot)
Family: Lamiaceae
Origin: N America
Location: Beside pond

A herbaceous perennial native to eastern N America, forming a clump of erect stems up to 1m tall, with aromatic, lance-shaped leaves and showy 2-lipped red or pink flowers 3-4cm in length in dense terminal whorls. The flowers are visited by long-tongued bumblebees - short-tongued bumblebees need to make holes at the base of the flowers to obtain nectar, and these holes may also be used by honeybees. Bee balm was used as a medicinal plant by Native Americans, who recognized its strong antiseptic action, and it is the natural source of the antiseptic thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The genus is named after Nicolas Monardes, who described the first American flora in 1569.

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