Wild Bergamot in winter

Wild Bergamot — or wild bee-balm — in winter. In the back of Frances Slocum, off Green Road, there is a pasture alive with these.

 

Round cluster 1 to 2 inches across of tubular flowers, solitary at the end of branching stems arising from leaf axils. Color ranges from purple to lavender to pink, rarely white. Individual flowers have a ¼-inch wide curved lower lip and a thin straight upper lip. The upper lip has a tuft of white hairs at the tip, the lower is hairy on the underside and lobed with a short rectangular extension at the tip that is notched in 2 parts. 2 brown-tipped stamens extend beyond the tip of the upper lip. A tubular calyx holds each flower.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

Leaves are coarsely toothed, 1 tobergamot 4 inches long and up to 1½ inches wide, rounded at the leaf base and tapering to a point at the tip, on leaf stalks up to 5/8 inch long. Leaves are hairy underneath and smooth or hairy on the upper surface. Attachment is opposite. The stem is a reddish brown color, square, and hairy to varying degrees.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The flowers drop off leaving the calyxes behind. Seed develops inside the calyx. The head turns dark brown as the seed ripens.

Seed is smooth, brown, oval, and just over 1 millimeter long.

Notes:
There are 2 varieties of Wild Bergamot, var. fistulosa, very common throughout the state, and var. menthaefolia, a more western species found in only a few counties. The latter is a shorter, little branched plant with leaf stalks that are rarely over 3/8 inch long, but is otherwise very similar. Wild Bergamot is one of my favorite flowers. In full bloom, the flower head looks like a little fireworks display. It is an excellent garden plant. The dried leaves and flower heads are wonderfully aromatic; Bergamot oils have been used in natural healing for centuries

Author: luzerne2112

As I get older -- and I'm 70 now -- I seem to find more and more that nature is the true source of peace, inspiration and, most of all, the truth the passeth understanding. Though my knowledge is sketchy and superficial, I wanted to share it while I can.

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