MINT FAMILY - Labiatae: Wild Bergamot

Monarda fistulosa

Flowers--Extremely variable, purplish lavender, magenta, rose, pink, yellowish pink, or whitish, dotted; clustered in a solitary, nearly flat terminal head. Calyx tubular, narrow, 5-toothed, very hairy within. Corolla 1 to 1-1/2 in. long, tubular, 2-lipped, upper lip erect, toothed; lower lip spreading, 3-lobed, middle lobe longest; 2 anther-bearing stamens protruding; 1 pistil; the style 2-lobed. Stem: 2 to 3 ft. high, rough, branched. Leaves: Opposite, lance-shaped, saw-edged, on slender petioles; aromatic; bracts and upper leaves whitish or the color of flower.

Preferred Habitat--Open woods, thickets, dry rocky hills.

Flowering Season--June-September.

Distribution--Eastern Canada and Maine, westward to Minnesota, south to Gulf of Mexico.

Only a few bergamot flowers open at a time; the rest of the slightly rounded head, thickly set with hairy calices, looks as if it might be placed in a glass cup and make an excellent penwiper. If the cultivated human eye (and stomach) revolt at magenta, it is ever a favorite shade with butterflies. They flutter in ecstasy over the gay flowers; indeed, they are the principal visitors and benefactors, for the erect corollas, exposed organs, and level-topped heads are well adapted to their requirements.