Medical Herbs Catalogue



Botanical Name: Monarda didyma
Family: N.O. Rustaceae

Synonyms: Scarlet Monarda. Oswego Tea. Bee Balm.

So far, Monarda punctata is considered the only plant indigenous to North America which can be looked upon as a fruitful source of Thymol, though another American swamp plant, closely allied to it, M. didyma, the Scarlet Monarda, is said to yield an oil of similar composition, though not to the same degree.

Description: This species, on account of its aromatic odour, has become a favourite in our gardens. It has showy, scarlet flowers in large heads or whorls at the top of the stem, supported by leafy bracts, the leaflets of which are of a pale-green colour tinged with red. Its square, grooved and hard stems rise about 2 feet high, and the leaves which it bears in pairs are rather rough on both surfaces.

The whole plant is strongly impregnated with a delightful fragrance; even after the darkly-coloured leaves have died away, the surface rootlets give off the pleasant smell by which the plant has earned its common name 'Bergamot,' it being reminiscent of the aroma of the Bergamot Orange.

It is known in America as 'Oswego Tea,' because an infusion of its young leaves used to form a common beverage in many parts of the United States.

It is also sometimes called 'Bee Balm,' as bees are fond of its blossoms, which secrete much nectar.

It delights in a moist, light soil, and in a situation where the plants have only the morning sun, where they will continue in flower longer than those which are exposed to the full sun. It is a very ornamental plant and readily propagated by its creeping roots and by slips or cuttings, which, if planted in a shady corner in May, will take root in the same manner as the other Mints.