The flowers of Bradbury beebalm are often white or pale lavender with purple spots. Note the unbranching stems and the sessile (stalkless) leaves. Also called horsemint and wild bergamot, this showy, fragrant plant is a favorite of native plant gardeners.
Bradbury beebalm is a clump-forming perennial with square, unbranched stems. All parts of the plant have a pleasant aroma. Flowers normally in 1 terminal cluster, subtended by many small leaves that frequently are rose-purple. The flowers themselves vary from white to lavender to pinkish.
Many types of insects, including bees, wasps, moths, and butterflies, visit the flowers of wild bergamot to drink nectar. This is one reason this native plant is so popular with gardeners. Another is that you can make an herbal tea from this plant.
One way to distinguish wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) from the closely related Bradbury beebalm (M. bradburiana) is to look at growth habit. Wild bergamot’s stems branch off into different flower stalks, while Bradbury beebalm’s stems don’t branch.
One way to distinguish wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) from the closely related Bradbury beebalm (M. bradburiana) is to look at the leaves. Wild bergamot’s leaves have definite leaf stalks, while the leaves of Bradbury beebalm are essentially stalkless (sessile).
The floral tubes of wild bergamot can be about 1½ inches long and end 2 lips. The lower lip is broad and recurving, and the upper lip arches upward with the stamens protruding. The details of flowers can be impressive, and purchasing even a cheap hand lens can open up a world of wonders.
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