Bergamot

Monarda sp. Laminaceae

\aii\t* Americans used Monarda to make medicinal tisanes. After the Boston Ttea Party, in 1773. when American colonists dumped tea shipped by the British East India Company, in protest against British rule, the bergamot tea of the Oswego Indians became a popular substitute.

Othe< common name Bee balm, Monarda, Oswego tea Part used Leaves

Wild bergamot IMonorda fistulosa)

Monarda obtained its common name in Europe because the scent of its foliage resembled that of bergamot orange {Citrus bergamia syn. C. aurantium var. bergamia), a small tree that resembles Seville orange (C. aurantium). Bergamot's leaf fragrances range from orégano to lemon. This herb's spectacular flowers attract bees and also honey-seeking birds.

Oswego tea [M. didyma) is a perennial growing to 4ft. (1.2 m), with several stems terminating in heads surrounded by dense whorls of long-tubed, scarlet flowers. The leaves have a very pleasant citrus scent.

Wild bergamot [M. fistulosa) is found on well-drained hillsides and in light woodland. Two botanical varieties to 4ft. (1.2 m) are grown, both with lance-shaped leaves. M. fistulosa usually has whorled heads of lavender flowers (occasionally pink), and

Bergamot is an ingredient in the eau de cologne 4711, which dates from the late 18th century.

different strains have thyme- or rose geranium-scented leaves.

The cold-hardy M. menthifolia, known as orégano de la Sierra, has a true orégano scent and flavor. Spectacular spotted bergamot (M. punctata) has densely whorled heads of cream flowers speckled purple and showy lavender bracts. Lemon bergamot (M. citriodora) is a tall annual species with heads of large, lipped, pink or lavender flowers.

• Varieties Most garden bergamots are hybrids (/W. x media), and include varieties such as 'Blue Stocking' and 'Mohawk.'

• Position With the exception of

M. fistulosa, which is drought-resistant, bergamots prefer a sunny position and an enriched, moist but well-drained soil.

• Propagation Propagate by seed, or by dividing perennials in early spring. You can also take stem cuttings in summer.

• Maintenance Clear dead material from plants in winter. Divide plants every 3 years.

• Pests and diseases Some of the garden varieties are susceptible to powdery mildew, which, although it is disfiguring, does not appear to cause any permanent damage.

• Harvesting and storing Harvest the edible flowers as required. Collect leaves in late spring and dry them.

Herbal medicine

Monarda didyma, M. fistulosa. Part used: leaves. M. didyma has been used medicinally to ease flatulence and colic and reduce fevers. It is reputed to contain thymol, an essential oil compound that is also found in thyme and marjoram, and may explain the calming effect that the plant has on the digestive system.

Do not confuse this herb with bergamot essential oil. For the safe and appropriate use of M. didyma and C. bergamia, consult your healthcare professional. Do not use these herbs if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Bergamot is an ingredient in the eau de cologne 4711, which dates from the late 18th century.

The/ ueriatules ber^anvot orange/

The intensely fragrant waxy w hite flowers of the bergamot orange (Citrus birgamia syn. C. aurantium var. bergamia). borne in clusters In spring, are the source of ihe essential oil of neroli. used widely in the perfumery trade, and also orange flower water. The bitter but highly aromatic yellow peel is used to flavor Earl Gray lea. and also yields bergamot essential oil. which is used for aromatherapy purposes. It can be beneficial Tor a range or skin conditions, including an oily complexion and acne, but lake care when applying skin creams and oils containing the essential oil: one of its compounds, bergapten, has a known photosensitizing effect.

Borage [Borago officinalis)

In the first century ct, Pliny declared that borage made men merry and glad.

Continue reading here: Borage

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