June 17, 2011

Drying Wild Bergamot

Today we picked and hung-up two baskets-full of Wild Bergamot to dry. The house smells great!

In looking up this pretty purple stuff we now have on our wall, I found this interesting information:

Bergamot’s Latin name is “Monarda fistulosa.” The genus Monarda, according to one source was named “in honor of a 16th century Spanish physician and botanist, Nicolas Bautista Monardes (1493-1588). Monardes never went to the Americas but was able to study medicinal plants in Spain because Spain controlled navigation and commerce from the New World. Fistulosa means tubular.”


There are 17 fairly-regional wildflower species of Monarda (as opposed to cultivated variations). Color can be various shades of pink, purple, or red, as well as white. Some have flower heads at the tip of a single stem, others may have multiple flowers per stem.

Wild Bergamot is also known as Bee Balm, Oswego Tea, or Horse Mint, among others. Actually, the common name of “Bergamot” comes from the fragrance of the plant, which to some smells much like the Asian/Mediterranean citrus, Bergamot Orange. Monarda is a medicinal, ornamental, native wildflower which blooms from June to September. The various species of Monarda can be found throughout the USA and Canada.




“The red variety is commonly known as Oswego Tea. It was used by colonists in place of English Tea after the Boston Tea Party, when they threw the English tea in the harbor to protest the high taxes imposed on it by the British.

Bee Balm was used as a medicinal plant extensively by Native Americans who recognized four varieties that had different odors. Wild Bergamot was used also as an active diaphoretic (sweat inducer) for ceremonial sweat lodges. A decoction of the herb was made into hair pomade.”


“The blossoms provide the flavoring for the famous Earl Grey tea.”



Hmm… Didn’t know that before. We’ve learned something new every day…

Shabbat Shalom!


  1. That is an amazing crop! Were you able to grow it all yourself?

  2. Actually, it grew wild on the side of a hay field across from our house. We just went out and gathered what we wanted from the patches around us. :-)

    Thanks for commenting!


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