by Eleanor Dietrich
This wildflower (Monarda punctata) shows its colors in two different ways – one is by the pink bracts (that are actually modified leaves) and by the yellow spotted flowers tucked in between the bracts. It is in the mint family, and all parts of the plant have a pleasant aroma. This is a tough little plant that can grow on sunny dry roadsides. Its seeds can be planted in a garden, but be aware that it will quickly spread. But if you have the space for it, it will provide late summer and early fall bloom year after year; and you can always enjoy it in Nature’s garden. It is a favorite plant for pollinators. The shape of the flowers encourages wasps and bees to tunnel in to get nectar from the many flowers that bloom on the plant. American Indians used a leaf tea of this plant to treat flue, colds, fevers, and coughs; medical doctors once prescribed it to treat digestive disorders. Now we can appreciate its beauty, and be grateful that it helps our pollinators thrive.