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Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society

Focusing on native plants and conservation in North Idaho

Wild Beebalm



From July through September, Wild Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa) blooms in the Arboretum’s Medicinal Garden. A member of the mint family, Monarda fistulosa is widespread in much of North America. Also commonly called Wild Bergamot , Purple Beebalm or Horsemint, Monarda fistulosa has distinctively aromatic foliage.

This clump-forming herbaceous perennial produces clusters of lilac-purple tubular flowers measuring 2-3 inches across. The nectar-rich blooms resemble miniature pom poms, attracting bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other beneficial pollinators. It is also considered rabbit and deer resistant.

Wild Beebalm is fast growing through its shallow rhizome root structure. It can be divided every 3 years and benefits from being cut to the ground after flowering to promote new healthy growth. Wild Beebalm thrives in a wide range of soils. It does well in sun or part shade and is drought and heat tolerant. In overly damp situations, powdery mildew can be a problem.

Blackfoot Indians recognized the plant's strong antiseptic properties and used Beebalm poultices for skin infections, minor wounds and insect stings. It is a natural source of the antiseptic thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern mouthwash formulas. Many people enjoy tea made from the leaves.

Check out Idaho’s native Wild Beebalm in the Medicinal Garden habitat at the North Idaho Native Plant Arboretum. Open to the public, parking for the Arboretum is at 611 S. Ella Ave. or on the street. Wild Beebalm is found on page 129 of the KNPS publication, Landscaping with Native Plants in the Idaho Panhandle, available at local bookstores and the Bonner County History Museum.