For Your Garden - July 2010
Native wildflowers abundantly adorn the landscape with their colorful blossoms! Are you using native wildflowers in your garden? Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. They also provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.
wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Wild bergamot is a common wildflower throughout Illinois. Growing in dry woods, fields, prairies and roadsides, it produces flowers from May through August. A dense, rounded cluster of lavender flowers develops at the tip of each stem. Each flower is tubular and two-lipped, with the lower lip forming a landing platform for insect pollinators. These flowers are attractive to a variety of insects, including bees and some butterflies. Wild bergamot is classified in the mint family and has the square stem that is typical of these plants. The leaves are oppositely arranged, one to two inches wide and two to four inches long. Each leaf has a long tip and is toothed along the edges. The leaves contain tiny glands with aromatic oils. This species grows to a height of two to four feet and tends to develop in colonies. It does spread easily and may crowd out other plants if not kept in check.
Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.