Herb: Wild Bergamot

Latin name: Monarda fistulosa

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Wild Bergamot:

Wild bergamot was often employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially those connected with the digestive system. It is still sometimes used in modern herbalism. The leaves and flowering stems are carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant. An infusion is used internally in the treatment of colds, catarrh, headaches, gastric disorders, aching kidneys, to reduce low fevers and soothe sore throats. Externally, it is applied as a poultice to skin eruptions, cuts etc and as a wash for sore eyes. The leaves can be harvested before the plant flowers, or they can be harvested with the flowering stems. They can be used fresh or dried. The plant contains the essential oil "bergamot oil" which can be inhaled to treat bronchial complaints. The leaves also contain "thymol", an essential oil that can be used to expel gas from the digestive tract.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Dry thickets, clearings and woodland edges.

Edible parts of Wild Bergamot:

Leaves - raw or cooked. The entire plant above ground level can be used as a potherb, though it is rather aromatic. It is also used as a flavouring in salads and cooked foods. The flowers make an attractive edible garnish in salads. The fresh or dried leaves are brewed into a refreshing aromatic tea.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves have been used as an insect repellent.

Propagation of Wild Bergamot:

Seed - sow mid to late spring in a cold frame. Germination usually takes place within 10 - 40 days at 20C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in late summer in areas where the winters are not too severe and will produce larger plants. Cuttings of soft basal shoots in spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, large divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry thickets, clearings and woodland edges.

Known hazards of Monarda fistulosa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.