Have you ever wondered why it is called a balm? The Oswego Indians of New York made a drink from the leaves to ease the symptoms of fever and chills. The word "balm" refers to any fragrant or aromatic gum resin that comes from certain trees used for healing or for anointing.
The binomial Monarda didyma recalls Nicholas Monardes who was a physician and naturalist of Seville, Spain. The good doctor published a work on the medicinal values of plants newly discovered in North America.
Bee balm is pollinated, for the most part, by hummingbirds and fritillary butterflies.
In the wake of the Boston tea party a tea, called Oswego tea, became an acceptable substitute for the imported teas.
The Shaker community, near Oswego N.Y., were great herbalists. They used bee balm leaves to flavor apple jelly, salads, and even fruit cups.
They used it for tea and other flavorings in their kitchens.
It is approaching mid July and hummingbirds are thoroughly enjoying the writer's bee balm.
Perhaps we could state, at this time, that the very first of the public botanical gardens, that would be maintained for the public by universities or governments, was established in Pisa, Italy, in 1543. Prior to this private herbarium, grown for and used by physicians, provided herbs for medical uses.
The world's northernmost botanical garden is above the arctic circle. Brr! This lovely garden is the Tromso Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden and is found in Tromso in far northern Norway.