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Earthnotes
Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.



MONARDA - 1
BEEBALM, OSWEGO TEA
(Monarda didyma)
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Also see M. citriodora, M. fistulosa, M. pectinata and M. punctata

Noted for its spicy scented leaves and brilliant blooms. Named for Nicholas Monardes (1493-1588), a Spanish botanist and physician who authored the first book about horticulture in the Americas. Monardas attract hummingbirds.

PROPAGATION: By seed or division. Perennial.
NEEDS: Full sun to part shade and moist, rich soil. Cut back to 1" immediately after bloom to encourage a second round of bloom. Plants should be divided every 3 to 4 years with the central portion being discarded and the vigorous outer segments of the clump being replanted. Monardas are prone to mildew, although a number of newer varieties have some resistance to this. Regular spraying is advised to keep this from occurring. (Do NOT harvest sprayed plants for consumption!)
HARVEST: Just leaves before blooming or while in full bloom. Harvest flowering tops in full bloom.
FLOWERS: Late July to early August onward throughout late summer depending on variety.

USES

MEDICINAL:
Antiseptic, antifungal, relaxing, soporific.
Has been used for sore throat, menstrual cramps, colicky stomach, flatulence, colds, and chills.
Has been used to relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Has been used as vapor therapy for relief of bronchial problems and throat infection. Presence of thymol in the leaves is responsible for much of the antiseptic action. Pour boiling water onto a large handful of leaves in a bowl and inhale the vapor.
The extracted oilhas also been inhaled for bronchial problems.

CULINARY:
Leaves, flowers, and tender shoots used in salads, drinks, cheeses, jellies and meat dishes. Native Americans served the dried leaves with meat and as a tea. The flower petals are added to salads as a garnish and are edible.

COSMETIC:
Good bath herb and the infusion makes a good skin lotion which is antiseptic.

CRAFT:
Leaves and flowering tops used for potpourri, sachets, and wreath making.

COMPANION:
A companion plant for tomatoes.



MONARDA DIDYMA VARIETIES
Except where noted, all are hardy perennials to zone 5 and all have the same uses.

Adam RedBright red blooms
Beauty of CobhamLight pink blooms
Blue StockingsDark lilac blooms
Cambridge ScarletBright red blooms
Colrain RedScarlet blooms
Croftway PinkPink blooms
Gardenview ScarletRich red blooms
Jacob ClineRed blooms
Little MiriamLavender-pink blooms
MahoganyDark red/wine blooms
Marshall's DelightPink blooms
Panorama RedRed blooms
Petite DelightLavender-rose blooms
Petite WonderPaler version of Petite Delight
Prairie NightPurple blooms
Raspberry WineWine red blooms
Rose-scentedLavender blooms, rose-scented leaves.
Snow WhiteWhite blooms
Violet QueenDark purple blooms

One variety which is very old and of unknown origin, but appears to be very similar to M. didyma has bright green foliage and pale pink to white blooms. It's remarkable feature is a very strong, coarse, lemon fragrance and is often called "Lemon Bergamot".



MONARDA - 2
LEMON MINT
(Monarda citriodora)
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PROPAGATION: By seed in spring or by division. Is not reliably hardy in zone 5. Should be planted away from other monardas since they cross readily.
NEEDS: Full sun to partial shade and moist, rich, well-drained soil.
HARVEST: When in full flower (late July onward).

The petals of the flowers are edible. The whole plant is strongly lemon fragranced. The leaves are used for potpourri and the flowering tops for craft arrangements.



MONARDA - 3
OSWEGO TEA, WILD BEEBALM
(Monarda fistulosa)
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PROPAGATION: By seed or division. Perennial.
NEEDS: Full sun to partial shade and moisture-retentive rich soil.
HARVEST: Just before blooming or in full bloom.
FLOWERS: Shades of pink which appear early to mid-July and onward.

This is the wild cousin to M. didyma and is used in the same way.



MONARDA - 4
PONY BEEBALM
(Monarda pectinata)
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Used like oregano.



MONARDA - 5
HORSEMINT, SPOTTED BEEBALM
(M. punctata)
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PROPAGATION: By seed or division. A perennial, but not reliably hardy in the upper reaches of Zone 5 without protection.
NEEDS: Full sun to partial shade with moisture-retentive, rich, well-draining soil.
HARVEST: Leaves just before bloom or while in full bloom.
FLOWERS: Lovely yellow with unusual purple spots. Well worth growing as an ornamental.

USES

MEDICINAL:
Has a particularly high thymol content. Antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal.
Infusion has been used for colds and chills, bronchitis, laryngitis, rhinitis, and sinusitus.
Loosens phlegm, relaxes trachea; has been used for asthma and allergies.
Reported to have cancer fighting activity.

CRAFTS:
Leaves and flowering tops for potpourri and dried arrangements.

OTHER:
Has some insect repelling properties.




©2001 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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