Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies, Bees, Other Showy Insects
Hummingbird flower; leaves used for tea; flowers edible.
Provides nectar for butterflies such as: tiger swallowtail, great spangled fritillary, wood nymph, monarch (Wildtype).
Grows wild across fields in Southern Ontario. (Ontario Native Plants 2002).
Long ago, oil from the leaves was used to treat respiratory ailments. (Niering)
For centuries Aboriginal peoples across the continent have used it for culinary and medicinal purposes. European settlers found it good for these purposes also. (USDA PLANTS)
This species is deer resistant. (Evergreen)
The plants can be grown from seed, or divided in early spring.
Habitat Information: Found in upland thickets, woods, and prairies from Quebec to Manitoba and British Columbia. (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) The leaves of both bee balm and its cousin wild bergamot, have square stems like all mint family plants, and have leaves that smell like oregano and mint combined when crushed. The leaves also often have dark reddish purple mid veins. (Evergreen)
Ruby throated hummingbirds are attracted to this plant. This plant is not a favourite forage for mammals as it is said to cause digestive upset, and leaves are strongly scented and flavoured. (Illinois Wildflowers)
Garden Uses: Leaves smell like Earl Grey tea; its stem is square. (Johnson, L., The new Ontario Naturalized Garden,1999)
Insect Relationships: Long tongued bees, bee flies, butterflies, skippers, and hummingbird moths. Among longt ongued bees, bumblebees, miner bees, epeoline cuckoo bees, and large leaf cutting bees. A small black bee (Doufouria monardae) is specialized in monarda flowers. Halictid bees and wasps bore into the nectar tube to get at the pollen. Larval host to the moths Sphinx cremitus (hermit sphinx) and Agriopedes teratophora (gray marvel). A seed bug (Ortholomus scolopax). (Illinois Wildflowers)
Traditional Edible, Medicinal Uses: Also known as Oswego tea, because the plants were used by the Oswego indians for a hot drink. (Lorraine Johnson, 101) Edible parts are the flowers and leaves. Used medicinally by several First Nations tribes throughout North America, and is still used today. An infusion treats cold, catarrh, headaches, gastric disorders, aching kidneys, reduction of fevers, sore throats. It has been applied to skin as poultice in treatment of skin eruptions, cuts, and eye wash. Leaves cut with flowers, and used fresh or dried. Bergamot oil can be inhaled to treat bronchial problems. Leaves contain 'thymol' an essential oil that is a carminative.
Other Uses: It is also used as an insect repellent. (Plants for a Future)
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