Monarda fistulosa
Family: Lamiaceae
bee balm, wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa image
Paul Drobot  
Etymology: Monarda: after Nicholas Monardes (1493-1588), a Spanish physician and botanist
Plants: erect, perennial, 2'-4' tall forb, strongly aromatic; stems often branched, usually hairy toward the top
Leaves: opposite, lance-like with a rounded base and pointed tips, long-stalked, grayish
Flowers: pale purple to pink, 5-parted, 3/4"-1 1/3" long, stamens longer than the petals; flower drawing inflorescence a single, rounded, dense cluster 1 1/3" wide (excluding the petals) at the end of the stems; blooms July-Sept.
Fruits: round, 1-seeded nutlet
Habitat: full to partial sun; dry, moderate moisture to wet; woods, prairies, fields; in sandy, loamy soil
Conservation Status: Native
One of our most widespread and common native mints, somewhat weedy in its ecology. Dry to mesic prairies and savannas, open woods of oak, oak-hickory, aspen, and oak-pine, bracken grasslands, oak and pine barrens, fields and pastures, thickets, riverbanks and lakeshores, sandstone or limestone cliffs and bluffs, clay seepage bluffs, rock outcrops, Lake Michigan dunes, sedge meadows, gravel pits, and along roadsides and railroad tracks; rarely in low woods and openings in conifer forests.

Traditionally, two varieties have been recognized as occurring in Wisconsin: var. fistulosa and var. mollis (L.) Beth., these differing in the nature of the pubescence of the abaxial leaf surfaces. Numerous intermediate specimens have been collected in the state (and across the species’ range) and they do not seem worthy of recognition. Found across the entire state but absent from a few areas in the Northern Highlands. This species has potentially spread beyond its historical range in the state due to human activities.