Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Monarda (Bee Balm) is in Bloom Again

The Monarda is blooming around our patio.  Common names include bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea, and bergamot, the last one due to the leaves' fragrance resembling that of Citrus bergamia fruits. The genus was named for Nicol├ís Monardes, who wrote a book in 1574 describing plants found in the New World.

Several bee balm species (Monarda fistulosa and Monarda didyma) have a long history of use as a medicinal plants by many Native Americans including the Blackfoot, Menominee, Ojibwa and Winnebago. The Blackfoot Indians recognized the strong antiseptic action of these plants, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds. A tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Bee balm is the natural source of the antiseptic Thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago used a tea made from bee balm as a general stimulant. Bee balm was also used as a carminative herb by Native Americans to treat excessive flatulence.  An infusion of crushed Monarda leaves in boiling water has been used to treat headaches and fevers.

Although somewhat bitter, due to the thymol content in the leaves and buds, the plant tastes like a mix of spearmint and peppermint with oregano. Bee balm was traditionally used by Native Americans as a seasoning for wild game, particularly birds. The plants are widespread across North America and can be found in moist meadows, hillsides, and forest clearings up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in elevation.

And Rufus, Grand Champion Deep Acres Fields of Gold, is blooming in the show ring.   Currently ranked #8 in all-breed competition, Rufi recently was invited to show at the Top 20 Invitational at the Tibetan Terrier Club of America's National Specialty show.  The following weekend, Dad showed him wearing jeans and t-shirt (Dad, not Rufus. It was 93 degrees after all.)  and Rufus took a  Group 3 placement.  Rufus is now on hiatus for a few years (we think) to enjoy his teenage years.  You are only 2-dog-years-old once, so we say enjoy it.  Sweating at dog shows is not so enjoyable.  Even when you go home with the big rosette.