Video: Forage Wild Monarda (Beebalm) For Its Many Uses

Monarda fistulosa, or beebalm, grows wild across most of the U.S. and offers a wealth of valuable uses—culinary, medical and beyond.

There are many species of monarda that can be found growing across North America, but none are as widely spread as Monarda fistulosa. This amazing, native plant grows in almost every state in the country. Some of the common names for monarda are bee balm and wild bergamot. It’s typically under these names that you’ll find this herb for sale at your local greenhouse. 

The bees certainly do love the colorful flowers of monarda, as do butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. Monarda is a wonderful addition to the herb garden, but its also grows abundantly in the wild! 

Where to Find Wild Monarda

Monarda can typically be found growing along the edge of forests and trails, in fields and other full-sun areas. It prefers moist soil, but is also quite drought tolerant once established.

The plant propagates via underground rhizomes and can quickly spread in areas that they like to grow. 

Delicious in the Kitchen

Some species, such as M. didyma, have a sweet, almost citrus aroma. But wild bergamot is much more pungent, with a fragrance and flavor reminiscent of oregano. 

The leaves and flowers of this native herb can be used in all the same ways one might use oregano in the kitchen: in tomato sauces, roasted vegetables and grilled meats. It can easily be included in any recipe that calls for oregano.  

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The leaves are typically used in recipes, but the flower is just as flavorful and makes a delightful garnish on any dish. 

Read more: Make you own pain-relieving herbal salve!

A Valuable Medicinal Herb

Monarda is rich in the volatile oil thymol and is a beneficial medicinal herb because of this. You can brew a tea from this flavorful herb to soothe stomach upset and other digestive issues.

The same tea will help to calm a dry cough or heal a dry, scratchy throat. 

The herb is also antibacterial, as well as anti-inflammatory, and can be used topically to heal dry, itchy skin conditions. It’s particularly beneficial on bug bites and bee stings, as well as cuts and scratches.

Simply chew up a monarda leaf, then rub it on the affected area.  

The herb can also be infused in oil, and the resulting herbal oil can be crafted into a salve or lotion for topical use throughout the year.

Monarda is an amazing and useful native plant. Just head outside for a hike in the woods or at your neighborhood park to look for some. Find this special plant, harvest it and enjoy the many benefits of monarda!  

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