Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bee Balm (Monarda Fistulosa)

My best wildlife plant growing in the garden this week is the herb Bee Balm. It is growing in a mix of diversity as a companion among the tomato beds.

It is said to help improve the growth of tomato plants. I can testify to that because every tomato plant that is growing next to the Bee Balm grew much larger than the plants that were not.

The herb is also called Wild Bergamont that dates back as far as 1571 where I found its genus to be named after the Spanish Physician, Nicholas Monardes. 

It then became popular in America during the Revolutionary war when the colonists were boycotting the English black tea during the Boston Tea Party.. Bee Balm became known as Oswego Tea.

Although it had already been used by the Native American Indians long before the colonists had discovered its wonderful citrus flavor in tea. That certainly suggests to me that Bee Balm dates back far before 1571 when it received its genus name Monarda.

The Native Americans used it for treating illness such as colds, coughs and fever as well as for stomach ailments,  The Native American Pueblo and Zuni Tribes called the herb Sonoran, which is like Oregano when the leaves are dried with a peppery flavor and great for cooking to add a little spicy flavor.

They also ate the leaves fresh with other mixed greens for salad. If you ever need to know how to use an herb, just check with the Native Americans. They had really perfected the use and benefits of most herbs know to us in the United States and Mexico.

These guys have been knocking down the house on the Bee Balm. I can barely get to the flowers for harvesting. I use the petals for tea time and for making a delicious Hummingbird Bread.

I just need to make sure I leave plenty for the precious Bumblebees as well as the Hummingbirds and Butterflies.

It is an easy plant to grow, provided you keep it fairly moist. It enjoys the same soil as the tomatoes in the raised beds. I divide it in the fall and place it all over the garden where ever I can find a spot.

Wildflower Hummingbird Bread

Hummingbird Bread is generally a really spiffed up banana bread. I use my Southern Pecan Banana Bread recipe and add the Hummingbird ingredients to it.

Most recipes just add pineapple, but I believe the Hum comes from the Herb Bee Balm and a couple other special goodies.

 Hummingbirds love the color red and that is what makes this bread look good as well as taste fabulous. I also think it is very important to make it pure and healthy using all organic ingredients.

 Preheat your oven to 325 and lightly butter 4 mini loaf pans.

1/2 cup organic unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar (unrefined and unbleached)
2 eggs, best straight from the hen house
1 cup organic bananas, ripe and mashed up
1 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
1/2 cup organic barley flour
1/2 cup dried Bee Balm flower petals
1 cup dried organic cranberries or pomegranate
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Soak your dried berries in the 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan on low.

Blend butter, sugar, eggs and mashed bananas until smooth.

Add the warm liquid with berries from your saucepan. In a separate bowl mix together with wire whisk your flour, salt and baking soda.

Add your dry ingredients to your banana mixture and blend..

 Fold in the pecans and Bee Balm pedals.  Divide into your 4 lightly buttered loaf pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Check the center with a toothpick. When it comes out clean the bread is done. This old fashioned bread will crack at the top. It is so beautiful and the aroma will fill your kitchen.

 Cool pans a bit before removing them from the pans. Let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

 “Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

Happy Gardening!!


  1. Wow Pam,

    What bee-you-tee-full pictures. I love Earl Grey tea for the bergamont. I'll be trying out the bread recipe for sure.

    Take good care,


  2. Hi Laguna, I've been enjoying your posts ;) The bread is quite yummy. Hope you get a chance to try some. Thanks so much for coming by. ~ Pammy

  3. Hi Karen!! Did you guys ever get any rain over there? It is still so very droughty here. Hmmm a new word LOL. I love the Bergamont too!! Heck...I love tea and honey xxooxx see you soon over at your page ;) ~ Pammy

  4. Hi Pammy,
    Thank you for popping into my blog to leave your lovely message.
    I so enjoy visiting your blog. You are so knowledgeable. Today's post is a fascinating read.
    The bread looks delicious. I made some walnut bread the other day and it turned out pretty good even though I'm not much of a bread maker (smiles).