Monarda (Monarda spp.) is a shrubby perennial with very distinctive flowers native to the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada.
Flowers bloom July through August and consist of dense, riotous clusters of pink, red or purple. This plant is a member of the mint family, with its distinctive square stem and strong-smelling leaves. The lance-shaped leaves are opposite, toothed and rough on both sides. Slender rhizomes allow the plant to spread like crazy.
Common names Oswego tea, monarda, bergamot, horsemint, bee balm, beebalm
History and Folklore
An abundant plant in the Oswego region of New York, this plant was used as a tea by the Natives there and by the settlers to avoid taxation on tea by the British. Thus John Martram named this plant Oswego Tea.
|Healing Herb||Monarda has a long history of being used as a medicinal herb, particularly for its soothing properties and its potential to alleviate various ailments.|
|Bee Balm Connection||Monarda is commonly known as “Bee Balm” due to its ability to attract bees and other pollinators. It is believed to symbolize industriousness, abundance, and connection to nature.|
|Native American Uses||Native American tribes considered Monarda sacred and utilized it in various rituals, including purification ceremonies, healing practices, and spiritual offerings.|
|Cultural Significance||Monarda is often associated with traits such as vitality, energy, and strength. Its vibrant and aromatic flowers have cultural significance in different regions around the world.|
The name bergamot was bestowed upon this plant because its scent faintly resembles that of a Bergamot Orange, which is unrelated to. Bergamot is used to flavor Earl Gray Tea.
The genus name, Monarda, honors Nicholas Monardes, a botanist who specialized in New World plants in the sixteenth century.
Spiritual and Energetic Properties of Monarda
|Purification and Cleansing||Monarda is believed to possess purifying and cleansing properties, making it suitable for spiritual purification rituals, space clearing, or dispelling negative energies.|
|Emotional Balance||The aromatic qualities of Monarda are thought to help restore emotional balance, uplift the mood, and alleviate stress, making it beneficial for spiritual and energetic healing work.|
|Connection to the Divine||Some spiritual practitioners believe that Monarda can enhance spiritual connection, intuition, and facilitate communication with higher realms or spiritual guides.|
|Energizing and Vitality||Monarda is associated with boosting energy levels, revitalizing the spirit, and promoting a sense of vitality. It may be used in rituals or spells aimed at enhancing personal power or motivation.|
Propagate by division every few years. These are native American woodland plants and prefer a well-drained loam in full sun to partial shade. It is drought tolerant and prefers an alkaline soil. Bee balm reseeds readily and you will have to thin it regularly as overcrowded increases its susceptibility to disease and mildew. Make sure there is good circulation around plants to decrease the risk of mildew.
Harvesting and Preservation
Cut flowers when in full bloom, this will encourage more abundant blooming. Cut leaves as needed. Dry as any other herb.
Household and Decorative Use
Bee balm is one of the best plants to use for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.
The flowers and leaves are very good in potpourri and the oils are used in perfumery.
The entire plant above ground is edible and may be used as a potherb, in salads, as flavoring for cooked dishes. The unique flowers make an attractive garnish. The fresh or dried leaves make a lovely minty tea that can be served hot or iced.
Monarda has a high thymol content and, therefore, antibacterial properties. It also has antifungal and anesthetic properties. It can be used in mouthwashes, foot baths, and douches to relieve odor and/or itching. It is also useful as a wash for minor cuts and scrapes.
Bergamot tea is useful for fever and stomach problems and can be used as a gentle sleep aid. Simmer the leaves for 10 minutes to bring out their full flavor.
Spiritual and Magical Use
|Spellwork and Rituals||Monarda is often employed in spellwork or rituals related to love, prosperity, protection, and attracting positive energy. It can be used in charms, sachets, or spell bags.|
|Love and Romance||Some practitioners utilize Monarda in love spells or rituals to attract love, strengthen relationships, and enhance passion and romance.|
|Prosperity and Abundance||Monarda can be incorporated into rituals or spells focused on attracting prosperity, abundance, and success in various aspects of life, including finances and career.|
|Protection and Warding||Due to its purifying properties, Monarda can be used in protective spells or rituals to create a shield against negative energies, hexes, or harmful influences.|
Monarda has been used for spells for developing psychic powers, protection, and fertility. Wild bergamot can also be used to help induce sweating at sweat lodges.