Scarlet beebalm

Etymology

Scarlet beebalm is also known as scarlet monarda and bergamot. The genus, monarda didyma, is a Latin term named after Spanish physician Nicolas Monardes. Monardes described the healing abilities of several “New World plants” in 1569. Didyma, meanwhile, is derived from the Greek didymos, which means “duplicate” or “double” and refers to the plant’s double-lipped flowers.

Monarda didyma

Characteristics

Plant family  Lamiaceae (labiate)
Flowering season June to September
Harvest Flowers: June to September, leaves before flowering
Origin North America
Vegetation Humus soil with high water content

History

Medicine, consumption, ornamentation

The Native Americans boiled the leaves of the scarlet beebalm to make a tea that aided digestion and helped to dissolve mucus. The Oswego tribe also drank the red tea for its pleasant flavour. When an import boycott in Boston prevented black tea from reaching American shores in 1773, inhabitants turned to the red floral tea to satisfy their taste buds. Scarlet beebalm then went on to become a popular ornamental plant in Europe.