Index- plants in this Family
Lamiaceae / Mint
Oswego Tea (Monarda didyma)
Oswego Tea is also known as Bee Balm and officially as Scarlet Beebalm.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 180cm in height (70inches).
Leaves: The leaf arrangement is opposite. Leaves can reach 15cm in length (6inches). Each leaf is lanceolate to ovate and toothed with petiole from 1 to 3cm (0.4-1.2") long.
Flowers: The flowers are irregular in shape and are up to 4.5cm long (1.75 inches). They are scarlet. Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into late summer. The flowers are in a compact rounded head, usually single and terminal. Bracts reddish.
Habitat: Moist Woods.
Range: Most of eastern North America as far south as the mountains of northern Georgia.

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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The name Monarda is after a Spanish doctor, Nicolas Monardes (1493-1588) who, though he never visited the New World, was able to write a herbal and introduce europe to many plants from the Americas.

The spectacularly red showy flower cluster of this species is a delight to the eye in the often shady woods where it is most often found in the wild. It is also found cultivation.

Medical Uses: Native Americans used this species and other Monardas for flatulence, colds, indigestion and other conditions. The Cherokee used a warm poultice for headache and a tea for measles, flu, heart trouble weak bowels and as a sleep aid.(Hamel/Chiltoskey) There is little if any research to support any medical use and thymol, an active component, may be harmful in large amounts.

Similar Species: There are several other Monardas which are similar in form but the scarlet flowers are unique to this species in our area. Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) has pink to red flowers but they seldom approach the brilliant red of this species and it is found in dry lowland areas. See index for other Monardas on this web site.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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