Thursday, January 29, 2009

Monarda didyma: seeds

Monarda didyma, known in English as bee balm, bergamot, Oswego tea, or firecracker plant, and in French as monarde, thé d'Oswego, bergamote, or mélisse d'or is a perennial in the mint family native to much of eastern North America, and also the northwestern United States. Its flowers are very unusual and hard to describe—some say they look like jester's hats or fireworks; and are a lovely red.

I collected some of the seedheads from our plant in the fall; they look like prickly dark brown pompoms. They come apart into papery tubes about 1 cm long which are open at one end; at the closed end (closer to the centre of the pompom) of each tube is a tiny black seed; at least, I hope it is a seed.

Since this is a native plant, I am assuming it needs to go through a Canadian winter, or at least part of it, to germinate, so I am wintersowing it.


  1. Hello Toronto Gardener

    I had to laugh when I read your comment about where the Monarda seed was hiding in the tube. Were you able to figure out if that was the seed? I tried harvesting Monarda seeds along with a few hundred others last fall but I ended up giving up on that one.

    I find seed collecting to be fascinating and am obsessed with it!

    Thanks, I really enjoyed looking through your website.

  2. Hi Sherrie,
    After my failed attempt at collecting monarda seeds, I read somewhere, probably William Cullina's Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada, that monardas won't self-pollinate. Since I have only one, it didn't set viable seed.

    Glad you enjoyed my blog!


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