This unique Monarda species looks like it came from a magical faerie land. Commonly known as Horsemint, this bee balm is native to a huge expanse of land from the entire North American shoreline, west to New Mexico and California and south to eastern Mexico. Donning lovely cream-colored flowers with spotted lilac accents and pink or purple bracts, this mint family plant is distinctly striking. Its delightful flowers occur in whorls forming a dense long spike at the end of a stem.
Monarda punctata attracts pollinators in great numbers including honeybees, bumblebees, miner bees, swallowtail butterflies as well as endangered Karner Blue Butterflies. Hummingbirds and wasps especially love this plant. Among the wasps that it brings to the garden are beneficial predatory wasps that help control grubs, pest caterpillars, and other harmful insects.
Spotted Bee balm is highly aromatic smelling of oregano or thyme indicating a high content of thymol, which is potent monoterpene phenol that has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties along with other healing benefits.
Photo Credits: Erin O'Hara & Jessica Manchester