Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) ~ Photo taken by Adrian White
Called “Sweet Leaf” by Native herbalists, this plant is in full bloom right now across Iowa. Time to harvest its tender twigs and flowers!
Bergamot is delicious most of all as a tea, but I would beg it to be reconsidered in the herbalist’s arsenal of classic herbal flavors. It has a taste quite similar to thyme, as it also contains the volatile oil Thymol, but with a much more buttery flavor.
I dry a batch of the flowers in preparation of winter. Bergamot is an excellent cold and flu remedy, and very versatile within that realm. The plant is diaphoretic, antiviral, expectorant, bronchiodilating, relaxing and cooling. This herb is especially pleasant to have nearby in the garden or house, as a spit poultice of the leaves and flowers is wonderful for burns and insect stings, a bit like Plantain.
Those are such interesting flowers!