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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Lamiids
Ordo: Lamiales

Familia: Lamiaceae
Subfamilia: Nepetoideae
Tribus: Mentheae
Subtribus: Menthinae
Genus: Monarda

M. albiflora – M. aristata – M. bartlettii – M. bradburiana – M. citriodora – M. clinopodia – M. clinopodioides – M. didyma – M. eplingiana – M. fistulosa – M. fruticulosa – M. humilis – M. lindheimeri – M. luteola – M. maritima – M. media – M. pectinata – M. pringlei M. punctata – M. russeliana – M. stanfieldii – M. viridissima


M. x medioides

Monarda L., Sp. Pl. 1: 22 (1753)

Type species: Monarda fistulosa L., Sp. Pl. 1: 22 (1753)


Cheilyctis Benth., Labiat. Gen. Spec.: 726 (1835)
Cheilyctis (Raf.) Spach, Hist. Nat. Vég. 9: 163 (1838)

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Canada
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, Saskatchewan
Regional: USA
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusettst, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode I., South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Regional: Mexico
Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southwes

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 22. Reference page.

Additional references

Prather, A.L., Monfils, A.K., Posto, A.L. & Williams, R.A. (2002) Monophyly and Phylogeny of Monarda (Lamiaceae): Evidence from the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) Region of Nuclear Ribosomal DNA, Systematic Botany, 27(1): 127-137.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2014. Monarda in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2014 June 26. Reference page. 2014. Monarda. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 26 June 2014.
International Plant Names Index. 2014. Monarda. Published online. Accessed: June 26 2014.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Indianernessel, Goldmelisse
English: Bee Balm, Horsemint, Oswego Tea, Bergamot
suomi: Värimintut
magyar: Méhbalzsam, indiáncsalán, ápolka
русский: Монарда

Monarda is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae.[3] The genus is endemic to North America.[2][4] Common names include bergamot, bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea, the first inspired by the fragrance of the leaves, which is reminiscent of bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia). The genus was named for the Spanish botanist Nicolás Monardes, who wrote a book in 1574 describing plants of the New World.


Monarda species include annual and perennial herbaceous plants. They grow erect to heights of 20–90 cm (8–35 in). The slender, serrated, lanceolate leaves are oppositely arranged on the square stem, hairless or sparsely hairy, and about 7 to 14 centimeters long.

The flowers are tubular and bilaterally symmetric, with a narrow upper lip and a wider lower lip. The wild flowers are single, but some cultivated forms have double flowers. They are hermaphroditic, with male and female structures in each flower. There are two stamens. Inflorescences occur at the top of the stem or emerge from the axils. They are typically crowded head-like clusters of flowers with leafy bracts. Flower color varies, with wild species bearing red, pink, and light purple flowers. M. didyma has bright carmine red flowers, M. fistulosa has pink, and M. citriodora and M. pectinata have pale purple. Hybrids occur in the wild, and they are common in cultivation. Seed collected from hybrids does not yield plants identical to the parent.[5][6]

The crushed leaves of all species exude a spicy, fragrant essential oil. Of the species examined in one study, M. didyma contained the highest concentration of oil.[7]

Several species, including Monarda fistulosa and M. didyma, have a long history of use as medicinal plants by many Native Americans, such as the Blackfoot, Menominee, Ojibwa and Winnebago. The Blackfoot recognized the strong antiseptic action of the plants, and used them in poultices for skin infections and minor wounds. Native Americans and later settlers also used it to alleviate stomach and bronchial ailments. A tisane made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Bee balm is a natural source of the antiseptic compound thymol, the primary active ingredient in some modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago used a bee balm tisane as a general stimulant. Bee balm was also used as a carminative herb by Native Americans to prevent excessive flatulence.[8] An infusion of crushed, boiled Monarda has been used to treat headache and fever.

Although somewhat bitter due to the thymol content in the leaves and buds, the plant tastes like a mix of spearmint and peppermint with oregano. Bee balm was traditionally used by Native Americans as a seasoning for wild game, particularly birds. The plants are widespread across North America and can be found in moist meadows, hillsides, and forest clearings up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in elevation.[8]
Cultivar Monarda 'Panorama'

Monarda plants thrive in sun and moist but well-drained soil. Plants growing in partial shade spread horizontally and produce fewer flowers. Monarda are used in beds and borders to attract hummingbirds, pollinating insects, and insects that control garden pests. They are prone to developing powdery mildew in high humidity, especially if planted in a place without good air circulation.[9]

There are over 50 commercial cultivars whose hybrid colors range from dark red mahogany to bluish lilac to multiple shades of pink. These are generally not as robust as wild species. Some hybrids have been developed to produce high levels of essential oil for use as flavoring or medicine.[10]
AGM cultivars

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:[11]

'Beauty of Cobham'[12] (pink)
'Gardenview Scarlet'[13]
'Marshall's Delight'[14] (pink)
'Squaw'[15] (red)
'Talud'[16] (pink)

The UK National Collection of Monardas is held at Glyn Bach Gardens at Pont Hywel, Efailwen, near Llandissilio in Pembrokeshire.[17]
Wasp (Sphex flavovestitus) pollinating M. punctata

Monarda species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including case-bearers of the genus Coleophora. Coleophora monardae feeds only on Monarda plants, and C. heinrichella and C. monardella only feed on the species M. fistulosa.

Monarda is in the tribe Mentheae of the subfamily Nepetoideae in the mint family. Molecular phylogenetic studies of this tribe have been poorly sampled, and relationships within it remain unclear.[18] The genera Blephilia and Pycnanthemum are close relatives of Monarda, but they might not be the closest.[6] Monarda is divided into two distinct subgenera, Monarda and Cheilyctis.[19] These are easily distinguished by several characters.[3]
M. didyma seedhead

Species in the genus include:

Monarda bartlettii Standl. - Tamaulipas, Veracuz
Monarda balmettii Nutt. - fools balm - northwest United States
Monarda bradburiana L.C.Beck – eastern beebalm - mid Mississippi Valley
Monarda citriodora Cerv. ex Lag. – lemon beebalm, lemon-mint - southern United States, northern Mexico
Monarda clinopodia L. – white bergamot, basil beebalm - eastern United States, especially Appalachians
Monarda clinopodioides A.Gray – basil beebalm - Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana
Monarda didyma L. – Oswego tea, scarlet beebalm, fragrantbalm, mountain-mint - eastern United States, especially Appalachians, eastern Canada
Monarda eplingiana Standl. - Coahuila
Monarda fistulosa L. – wild bergamot, mintleaf beebalm, horse-mint, purple beebalm - widespread across most of United States + Canada; Tamaulipas, Nuevo León; cultivated in China and elsewhere[20]
Monarda fruticulosa Epling – spotted beebalm - southern Texas
Monarda humilis (Torr.) Prather & J.A.Keith - New Mexico
Monarda lindheimeri Engelm. & A.Gray ex A.Gray – Lindheimer's beebalm - Texas, Louisiana, southwestern Arkansas
Monarda luteola Singhurst & W.C.Holmes - northeastern Texas, southwestern Arkansas
Monarda maritima (Cory) Correll – seaside beebalm - coastal plain of Texas
Monarda media Willd. – purple bergamot - Ontario, eastern United States
Monarda × medioides W.H.Duncan - Georgia, Indiana (M. fistulosa × M. media)
Monarda pectinata Nutt. – plains beebalm, pony beebalm, spotted beebalm - central + southwestern United States (Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, southwestern desert mountains)
Monarda pringlei Fernald - Nuevo León
Monarda punctata L. – spotted beebalm, dotted monarda, horse-mint - Quebec, Ontario, eastern + south-central United States, California, northeastern Mexico
Monarda russeliana Nutt. ex Sims – redpurple beebalm - Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky
Monarda stanfieldii Small – Stanfield's beebalm - central Texas
Monarda viridissima Correll – green beebalm - east-central Texas

Formerly placed here

Blephilia ciliata (L.) Benth. (as M. ciliata L.)
Blephilia hirsuta (Pursh) Benth. (as M. ciliata Pursh)


"Genus: Monarda L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-09-10. Archived from the original on 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2011-10-08.
"Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved 24 August 2018.
Harley, R. M., et al. 2004. "Labiatae". pp 167-275 In: Kubitzki, K. (editor) and J. W. Kadereit (volume editor). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants volume VII. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN 978-3-540-40593-1
"2013 BONAP North American Plant Atlas. TaxonMaps". Retrieved 24 August 2018.
Whitten, W. M. (Mar 1981), "Pollination ecology of Monarda didyma, M. clinopodia, and hybrids (Lamiaceae) in the Southern Appalachian Mountains", American Journal of Botany, 68 (3): 435–442, doi:10.2307/2442781, JSTOR 2442781
Prather, L. A.; et al. (2002), "Monophyly and phylogeny of Monarda (Lamiaceae): Evidence from the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of nuclear ribosomal DNA", Systematic Botany, 27 (1): 127–137, doi:10.1043/0363-6445-27.1.127 (inactive 28 February 2022)
Spencer, E. R. (1974), All About Weeds, Courier Dover, p. 218, ISBN 0-486-23051-1
Tilford, G. L. Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. ISBN 0-87842-359-1
"Growing Bee Balm: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Bee Balm". Retrieved 2020-08-09.
Mazza, G.; et al. (1993), Janick, J. and J. E. Simon (ed.), "Monarda: A source of geraniol, linalool, thymol and carvacrol-rich essential oils", New Crops, Wiley, New York, pp. 628–631
"AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 65. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
"RHS Plant Selector - Monarda 'Beauty of Cobham'". Retrieved 3 January 2021.
"RHS Plant Selector - Monarda 'Gardenview Scarlet'". Retrieved 3 January 2021.
"RHS Plant Selector - Monarda 'Marshall's Delight'". Retrieved 3 January 2021.
"RHS Plant Selector - Monarda 'Squaw'". Retrieved 3 January 2021.
"RHS Plant Selector - Monarda 'Talud'". Retrieved 3 January 2021.
"Glynbachgardens". Retrieved 24 August 2018.
Ryding, P. O. 2010. Pericarp structure and phylogeny of tribe Mentheae (Lamiaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 285(3-4), 165–75. doi:10.1007/s00606-010-0270-9
Scora, R. W. 1967. Interspecific relationships in the genus Monarda (Labiatae). University of California Publications in Botany 41(1), 1–71.

Flora of China Vol. 17 Page 223 拟美国薄荷 ni mei guo bo he Monarda fistulosa Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 22. 1753.

Secondary sources

Gardner, J. (1998). Herbs in bloom: A guide to growing herbs as ornamental plants. Portland, Oregon:Timber Press.

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