WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds love this plant with aromatic flowers and leaves, and so do gardeners. The 1–3-foot tall, branching stems spread by rhizomes and form dense stands covered with showy pompom-like flowers. Horticultural varieties come in various shades of blues and pinks. Look for the single whorl of flowers at the stem tip. Like all members of the mint family, the stems are square.


FLOWER: May–August. A single whorl of up to 75 small flowers caps each stem with a cluster of reddish-purple to lavender-pink, bilaterally-symmetrical flowers surrounded by one row of green, leaf-like bracts with pink markings. The hairy tubular flowers, 3/4–1 1/8-inches long (20–28 cm), open with a hairy, arching upper lip folded around the stamens and style, and a lower lip (serving as a insect landing pad) with notched lobes.


LEAVES: Opposite. Blades gray-green, lance-shaped to triangular-oval, 1–2 1/2-inches (25–65 mm) long, to 1 1/2-inches (4 cm) wide, with short stems (petioles), a tapering tip, and toothed margins.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly, loam, alluvial soils, meadows, stream sides; pinyon-juniper, ponderosa, spruce-fir forests.


ELEVATION: 5,000–9,000 feet.


RANGE: Widespread from New England to the Rocky Mountain states.


SIMILAR SPECIES: The single whorl of flowers on each stem apex distinguishes this from other Monarda species that have spikes with multiple whorls of flowers.


NM COUNTIES: Widespread at middle elevations across NM: Bernalillo, Catron, Cibola, Colfax, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, Lincoln, Los Alamos, McKinley, Mora, Otero, Rio Arriba, Roosevelt, San Juan, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Union.


NOTES: Tea from the leaves and oil from the leaves have long been used medicinally to treat respiratory illness, fevers, headaches, and many other ailments. Due to the common name, this beebalm is sometimes confused with the spicy flavoring in Earl Grey tea, which comes from an European wild citrus.

WILD  BERGAMOT,  BEEBALM

MONARDA  FISTULOSA

Mint Family, Lamiaceae

Perennial herb

One cluster of flowers at stem tips (right arrow).

Green leaf-like bracts with pink markings (left arrow).

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