Common Name: Wild Bergamot.
Scientific Name: Monarda Fistulosa.
What to look for? Lavender! The Wild Bergamot has a head of lavender tubular flowers. This wildflower is in the mint family. The two to four feet tall green stem branches out frequently in the upper half. The leaves of the Wild Bergamot are opposites that are broadly oval in shape with serrated margins. These leaves may vary in color from light green to dark green. The leaves are approximately four inches long and two inches wide. The root system consists of deep, strongly branched roots, and shallow rhizomes that are responsible for the spread of the plant. These rhizomes typically send up multiple leafy stems in a tight cluster, giving Wild Bergamot a bushy appearance.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? You can find Wild Bergamot around the upper banks of Carillon Stonegate Pond and the fields adjacent to the woodlands.
How big are they? Wild Bergamot are approximately 2 - 4' tall. Their leaves are approximately 4" long and 2" across, And the lavender flowers are approximately 1-3" across.
Where do they grow and thrive? The Wild Bergamot occurs across most of the United States east of the Rockies and most of southern Canada. In Illinois, this plant is found across the state except for a few southern counties. The Wild Bergamot’s habitat includes prairies, woodlands, savannas, woodland borders, thickets and dry fields and pastures.
When do they bloom? Wild Bergamot is summer-blooming from May through August.
Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? Wild Bergamot is a good nectar source attracting Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, bees, Monarchs and other butterflies, Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, and other insects. Mammalian herbivores usually avoid this plant as a food source, probably because of the oregano-mint flavor of the leaves.
Interesting Facts About the Wild Bergamot:
The nectar of the flowers attracts long-tongued bees, bee flies, butterflies, skippers, and hummingbird moths.
For a member of the mint family, the flowers of the Wild Bergamot are large and beautiful.
The Wild Bergamot was used by Native Americans and colonists as medicines and teas.
For more information on the Wild Bergamot and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, University of Illinois Extension and University of Texas Wildflower Center.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!