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Monarda fistulosa

Wild bergamot, Wild beebalm

Plant Details

Common Name: Wild bergamot, Wild beebalm
Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)
Mature Height: 2 - 5'
Sun Requirement: Sun, Sun to part shade
Moisture Requirement: Dry, Dry - medium
Flower Color: Violet
Bloom Time: Mid summer (July - August)
Seed Collection Date: Late summer (August - September), Fall (September - October)

Monarda fistulosa - wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - Wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - Wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - wild bee-balm
Monarda fistulosa - wild bee-balm

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Monarda is Latin, to honor Nicolas Monardes (1493-1588), a Spanish physician/botanist; fistulosa is Latin for tubular, referring to the fused flower petals.

Native Habitat

Dry open woods, fields, wet meadows and ditches, and at the edges of woods and marshes.

Garden Uses

Perfect for both sunny mixed borders and naturalized fields, and part-shade woodland edges. Bee balm is hardy and fragrant, but subject to powdery mildew, which can be prevented with good drainage and air circulation.


This species displays clusters of mostly lavender, but occasionally white to pink, flowers at the top of open branched stems up to 5-feet tall. Adaptable, its preferred habitat includes both dry, open, sunny fields and moist, well-drained meadows and woodland edges in part-shade, where it spreads via slender, creeping rhizomes to colorful groupings.

Leaves and Stems

An attractive gray-green, the leaves are simple, lance-shaped, opposite (two per node along the stem), serrated or toothed, and 2-3 inches long. Fragrant foliage has smooth surface with hairy margins. Stems are erect, sparsely hairy, and branched.


Flowers grow in head-like clusters singly at the stem tips. Each 2-4 inch head contains 50-70 single flowers, which are bilaterally symmetrical. Each flower on the head includes 4 usually lavender petals, each fused into a tube, and up to 1/2 inch long. Two stamens extend from center, with a style also extending over 1 inch. Fine hairs cover much of the structures of the head, resulting in an overall slightly ragged pom-pom effect.


Dry nutlets are brown to black, less than 1/4 inch long, and do not split open. Seed can often be collected late into the season from stems left standing.

Animal Associates

Attractive to native bees, bumble bees, birds, hummingbirds, butterflies.


Root division; lifting and dividing rhizome clumps every 3 years can help maintain plant vigor. Seeds can easily be started without cold stratification. Naturally will seed iteself around the garden.

Ethnobotanical Uses

The aromatic leaves have traditionally been used for teas thought to help treat respiratory ailments.

Garden Location

Performance Hall Garden, Residential Garden (see garden map)

Anecdotal Information

Pinching back some stems in early summer can delay bloom time and produce a tidy clump when restricted to the stems at the perimeter of the clump.


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 

Missouri Botanical Garden

Native Plant Trust 

Plant Profile by Kate O’Dell