Native Plant of the Month – May

May 2018 – Native Plant of the Month

Written by Guest Contributor: Elenore Goode

 

Monarda species – Lemon/Horsemint, Beebalm, Wild Bergamot
Scientific names: Monarda lindheimeriani, Monarda fistulosa, Monarda citriodora, Monarda punctata.
Family: Lamiaceae, Mint family
Species of the Monarda genus are the native plant of the month for May, which is when they begin to bloom, bringing us the next round of showy displays and vibrant colors just in time after many of the earlier native wildflowers have slowed or stopped their blooming. The annual and perennial species of the Monarda genus are reliable and hardy edible and medicinal plants for humans and wildlife, and are easy to grow in abundance from seed or transplants.

These members of the mint family (Lamiaceae) make delicious medicinal teas from fresh or dried leaves and flowers. The flowers are also a beautiful touch in salads, or can be saved in ice cubes. They are especially popular with pollinators and hummingbirds, and make wonderful perimeter plants in our gardens to attract beneficial insects. The perennial species, such as Monarda lindheimeriani and Monarda fistulosa, spread vigorously through their rhizomatous roots, and transplant readily. This quality, combined with their relative deer-resistance, makes them very useful as habitat restoration plants in rougher conditions when we are trying to create food for wildlife, and build biomass and species diversity.

Species in order of pictures: Monarda fistulosa cultivar – perennial
Monarda lindheimerianiv – perennial
Monarda lindheimeriani – perennial
Monarda fistulosa – perennial
Monarda citriodora – annual

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