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FutureStarrBergamot Bee Balm
As many aromatherapists know, identifying some plant species can be confusing. Many plants have interchangeable or similar common English names; one such example is bergamot. Here is a quick look at the difference between bergamot (the fruit) and bergamot (the herb). The citrus fruit bergamot is known by the botanical name of Citrus bergamia or Citrus aurantium subsp. bergamia. It belongs to the Rutaceae plant family and possesses many of the common characteristics of the family. The small tree has smooth, oval leaves, familiar to many of the citrus trees within this plant family. It bears a fruit which is small and round in shape and matures from green to yellow in color. Bergamot fruit resembles a small orange in appearance, except for the color.The herb bergamot is known by the botanical name of Monarda didyma. It is commonly referred to by its English name of bergamot or bee balm (because of its tendency to attract bees). Bee balm belongs to the Lamiaceae plant family and shares more characteristics in common with its fellow plant family members – such as peppermint, lavender, and sage – than that of its fruity namesake bergamot. Bee balm is a herb native to the woodlands of North America. It bears flowers of scarlet, pink, white or purple and has green, oval leaves. The leaves have a red-colored vein running through them. The reason that bee balm is also given the name bergamot is that the aroma reminded the botanist, Dr Nicholas Mondares – whose name was given to the Latin name of the plant, Mondara – of the citrus aroma of bergamot (Citrus bergamia).
The herb bergamot is rarely used as an essential oil in aromatherapy practice but it does have therapeutic properties for herbal medicine practice. The leaf of bee balm is used as an infusion in tea to help in the relief of insomnia, menstrual pain, nausea, and flatulence. A fresh leaf of bee balm infused with China tea will produce a flavor of Earl Grey Tea. Steam inhalation of the herb bee balm is helpful for sore throats and catarrhMonarda fistulosa is an herbaceous perennial that grows from slender creeping rhizomes, thus commonly occurring in large clumps. The plants are typically up to 3 ft (0.91 m) tall, with a few erect branches. Its leaves are 2–3 in (5.1–7.6 cm) long, lance-shaped, and toothed. Its compact flower clusters are solitary at the ends of branches. Each cluster is about 1.5 in (3.8 cm) long, containing about 20–50 flowers. Wild bergamot often grows in rich soils in dry fields, thickets, and clearings, usually on limy soil. The plants generally flower from June to September. Lavender Bee Balm: Large and colorful, spicy flowers. Often called bergamot because its citrusy flavor is similar to the bergamot orange, bee balm flowers make a great addition to oil when frying white fish or scallops. Their strong flavor also goes well with meat and pork dishes. Bee balm leaves have a very strong flavor and should be dried before use. Add the dried leaves to black tea to make your own Earl Grey. Use whole flowers to make attractive floating garnishes in punch bowls of sangria, or use them to decorate the rim of a serving platter. Bee balm flowers can be fresh-frozen and will keep for two months or more. Flower color: purple (Source: theepicentre.com)