Bee Balm is a part of American History

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Sky Realty LLC 6502410580
https://activerain.com/droplet/4kmC

Bee Balm is a part of American HistoryBee Balm is probably one of the most original looking flowers that you may come across.  It may come as a surprise to some, but Bee Balm is a part of American history.  Most Americans do not know how significant it is to our history. 

When you look at the blossom, one can say it breaks away from the norm, and does its own thing; much like the original American Colonists appeared to the world as they broke away from rule of the English crown. 

Bergamot or 'Bee Balm' is a source of tea which was a popular substitute for the imported variety amongst the mid-Atlantic patriots in the wake of the Boston Tea Party. That period was probably the best in bergamot's history, though it retains its mystique, thanks to a striking appearance and the richly American nick-name, Oswego tea. The red variety is commonly what is referred to as Oswego Tea.

Bee Balm is a part of American history, as it gave the American Colonists an alternative tea (Oswego Tea),Bee Balm is a part of American History allowing the Sons of Liberty to gain popular support for taking a stand against England resulting in the Boston Tea Party. Oswego Tea was used by colonists in place of English Tea after the Boston Tea Party, when they threw the English tea in the harbor to protest the high taxes imposed on it by the British. 

Bee Balm is a perennial herb native to Eastern North America. It grows in dry thickets, clearings and woodland edges from Ontario and British Columbia to Georgia and Mexico. Native of the Oswego, New York area; found in thickets, fields, on streams banks and cultivated in herb gardens.  Bee Balm is a part of American History, from New York to Georgia; Tennessee to Michigan.

Bee Balm has showy, red, pink, or lilac flowers in large heads or whorls of about 20-50 flowers at the top of the branching stem, supported by leafy bracts, the leaflets are a pale-green color. The stem of Bee Balm is square, grooved and hard; and about 3 feet high. The leaves occur in opposite pairs, are rough on both surfaces, are distinctly toothed, and lance-shaped. Fine dense hairs cover much of the stem and leaves.

How do you Grow Bee Balm? Bee Balm is easily grown in ordinary garden soil. It also grows well in heavy clay soils, requires a part shade to sunny place to grow. This species thrives when grown in a dry soil and prefers alkaline soil conditions. Bee Balm is best started from plants which spread like crazy, but will grow from seed as well. Unfortunately, it often gets spotted with a mold like affliction. 

How do you Harvest and Use Bee Balm? Wild Bergamot (Bee Balm) flowers bloom from June to July. Gather edible leaves and flowers in bloom, dry on small bundles in paper bags in a dry, well ventilated area. Bee Balm can be used as tea, or as an aromatic suitable for sachets and potpourri.

Bee Balm is a part of American HistoryA simple herbal tea recipe or "Medicinal" tea is to take 1 tsp. dried herb, add 1 cup boiling water; steep 10 min. sweeten to taste, with honey or sugar as preferred and drink it at bedtime. 

Bee Balm is a part of American history, and was used as a medicinal plant extensively by Native Americans who recognized four varieties that had different odors. Wild Bergamot was used also as an active diaphoretic (sweat inducer) for ceremonial sweat lodges. 

The Native Americans passed their knowledge of the plant to the colonists, and one, a John Bartram of Philadelphia, reportedly sent seeds to England in the mid-1700s. From England, Bergamot traveled to the Continent, where it is still cultivated, generally under the names gold Melissa and Indian nettle.   

It is easy to see that Bee Balm is a part of American history, when you consider that among the foremost growers of this herb in the United States were the Shakers, who had a settlement near Oswego, New York. The Shakers were among America's great herbalists; they valued bergamot not only for tea and culinary uses, but for its medicinal virtues.

The leaves can be used to flavBee Balm is a part of American Historyor apple jelly, fruit cups, and salads. It is a beautiful scarlet flowering Native American mint. The foliage has a perfume fragrance similar to citrus, but most like that of the tropical tree, orange Bergamot, hence the nickname. The scent is suitable for use in potpourris and other scented mixtures.

The bright red flowers attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies and make striking, long-lasting cut blooms. The blossoms provide the flavoring for the famous Earl Grey tea. The flowers are also edible. The flowers are so popular with bees that the plant deserves the name American bee balm. 

So as the theme of the American Tea Party has risen again to popularity, remember that Bee Balm is a part of American History.  Drink a glass of Oswego Tea this summer, and remember your ancestors.

 

Bee Balm is a part of American History

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Melanie Hedrick 06/19/2010 12:23 PM
  2. Jennifer Fivelsdal 06/24/2010 01:46 AM
Topic:
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Location:
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Rainmaker
364,905
Sharon Lord
Maracay Homes - Peoria, AZ
New Home Advisor

Michael - you made me miss the midwest!  My mom's garden in Grand Rapids was full of bee balm, and I had it in mine in Nashville - red & purple varieties.  It won't grow out here in the desert :(  too hot/sunny.  The hummingbirds LOVED it, too!

Jun 19, 2010 12:11 PM #1
Rainer
108,905
Melanie Hedrick
Elite Texas Properties, the best homes from McKinney to Dallas! - McKinney, TX
972-816-7205

You know, I've never seen Bee Balm!  You must be a gardener -- Did you know we have a Gardening group?  I'm going to re-blog this and post it there. 

Jun 19, 2010 12:20 PM #2
Rainer
311,830
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI
REALTOR®, CRS, GRI

Melanie thanks for the tip on the Gardening group.  Yes, I am a gardener.  It is my favorite escape from Real Estate.

Sharon, I feel for you.  I love the west and the desert, and may move there someday again.  It will be hard to leave some of these wonderful Mid-west plants behind.

Jun 19, 2010 12:32 PM #3
Ambassador
1,726,157
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

Michael...

This is a great post about bee balm accompanied by fantastic photos! O now ho;d this great classic plant in even higher esteem!

Jun 19, 2010 01:55 PM #4
Rainmaker
268,276
John Thomas
E3 Green HOMES - Boulder, CO
EcoBroker, MSEE, MBA

Very interesting post...thank you. I had never heard of the bee balm until now. It almost looks like a tropical plant.

Jun 19, 2010 02:12 PM #5
Ambassador
2,298,590
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Hello Michael and I have to agree with the others great and very interesting post, and "Featured" at one of my favorite groups at Activerain ...

NIGHT OWLS AT ACTIVERAIN

VB ;-)

Jun 19, 2010 04:44 PM #6
Rainer
311,830
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI
REALTOR®, CRS, GRI

Thanks Robert!  I am honored!

Jun 20, 2010 07:07 AM #7
Rainmaker
145,712
Paul & Diane Boykin
Keller Williams Realty Greater Athens - Watkinsville, GA

Interesting!  I used to have some purple bee balm in my garden but it eventually died out.  Maybe I'll have to plant some more.

Jun 21, 2010 03:25 AM #8
Rainmaker
627,517
Mary Douglas
United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado - Red Feather Lakes, CO
REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Hi Michael, I have heard of it but I don't believe I've ever seen it.  It's really a strikingly beautiful flower. I wonder if it would grow here....

Jun 22, 2010 03:24 PM #9
Rainer
311,830
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI
REALTOR®, CRS, GRI

Mary, it probably would.  It sure took off in my garden this year.  I have only planted the red ones, but it comes in other colors.

Jun 23, 2010 08:01 AM #10
Rainmaker
589,204
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

Michael, I had just seen bee balm on the Delaware Center for Horticulture tour last week and thought it was beautiful.  And now I find someone named Delaware! How lucky can you get?  Have you been to Delaware?

Jun 23, 2010 11:44 AM #11
Rainer
311,830
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI
REALTOR®, CRS, GRI

Carolyn, Delaware is one of the States I have never been to.  However, my father went through there in the 70's on a business trip and when stopping for gas they could not believe it was his last name.

Jun 23, 2010 03:01 PM #12
Rainmaker
589,204
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

Gee, Michael, are you related to Thomas West, the 3rd Lord De La Warr, after whom my state is named? If not, from whence came your name?  I think we should treat you like royalty if you ever come to Delaware!

Jun 23, 2010 03:54 PM #13
Rainer
311,830
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI
REALTOR®, CRS, GRI

Carolyn unfortunately I am not related to your famous Lord.  My grandfather was a Belgium immigrant named 'DeLathauwer' and when he moved to the US in 1904, eventually established a musical instrument business, and became tired of people misspelling his name all the time, so he decided to 'Americanize' his name to 'Delaware' with a formal name change.

Jun 24, 2010 12:12 AM #14
Ambassador
1,652,405
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Michael I so appreciate your post, my Bee Balm are about to bloom.  I am a tea drinker so I was glad to hear it can be used for tea, so I will get my paper bags ready:)

Jun 24, 2010 01:43 AM #15
Rainmaker
589,204
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

Michael, we would still treat you like royalty if you came to Delaware!  And we have famous gardens here to visit like Nemours, Winterthur, and Longwood Gardens (just across the PA line).

Jun 24, 2010 02:37 AM #16
Rainer
478,183
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

What an excellent post on bee balm. After reading another post of yours and now this one, I think there is another gardener amongst us. LOL

Jun 25, 2010 11:38 PM #17
Rainer
311,830
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI
REALTOR®, CRS, GRI

Thank you everyone for your wonderful kind comments!  I am glad you enjoyed my post.

Jun 26, 2010 03:16 AM #18
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