Friday, July 06, 2007

wild bergamot

wild bergamot flower

Some photos of our Wild Bergamot in various stages of bloom. Bergamot are one of my favorite Minnesota natives if for no other reason then that they are one of our most unusual. Bergamot are a member of the mint family, something that is evident if you bring a broken leaf or stem to your nose. This makes them a favorite host plant of certain species of moth caterpillar, but are generally not disturbed by deer or other mammals that suffer from indigestion.

The purple, tube-shaped petals, which grow from the center of the flower in a kind of halo, are capped with feathery tips, and are a favorite of hummingbirds, butterflies, nectar drinking moths, and (especially) bees. Their common name, Wild Bee's Balm, is very well earned. Bees seem to horde individual flowers for hours at a time, and can actually be seen sleeping on them at night, or clinging to their undersides during a rainstorm.

These plants grow incredibly well, and are extremely gregarious spreaders, though the lower leaves tend to develop fungal patches in rainy seasons. They do well in moist, well-mulched soil; ours grow to a height of around 5'.

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