Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Scarlet Beebalm - Monarda didyma   L.
Members of Monarda with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Lamiaceae
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AuthorL.
DistributionLimited essentially to the mountains, but with one collection from Alexander County in the western Piedmont.

This is a Northern species ranging from eastern Canada south to NJ, PA, and eastern OH, and then southward in the Appalachians to northern GA.
AbundanceFairly common in the mountains, being collected from all such counties. Very rare, if still present, in the western Piedmont.
HabitatThis is a Monarda that requires some moisture, usually in shaded to partly shaded places. It occurs along wooded stream banks, in seepages on forested slopes, swampy spots, and also in boulderfield forests with some seepage. It does occur in Rich Cove Forests, but only if and where damp ground is present.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Broadleaf Herbaceous Mires
PhenologyBlooms from July to September, and fruits from September to October.
IdentificationThis is certainly one of the most beautiful and favorite wildflowers of the summer season. It is a rather tall herb, growing to 3-4' tall on average, unbranched or with a few branches. It has several pairs of opposite stem leaves, each ovate to lanceolate, about 4-5" long, serrated on the margins, with a long and pointed tip, a rounded base, and a short petiole. As is well known, the single flower cluster at the ends of the stems and branches contains numerous scarlet to bright red flowers, each being about 1.3" long, with a narrow upper lip and also a narrow lower lip, widely separate by the open "mouth". About 10-20 flowers bloom simultaneously, each facing outward from a central axis; in addition, the bracts below the flower cluster are also red, though not deeply so. Other similar Monarda species in the mountains have different flower colors, with M. media being the closest in color, at bright purple. Though not nearly as common as M. clinopodia, it should be encountered in summer in many places across the mountains, especially if the red colors of the flowers are seen.
Taxonomic CommentsMonarda media is variously considered as a good/full species, as in Weakley (2018) (and thus on this website), completely sunken within this species, or listed as a variety of it.

Other Common Name(s)Bee-balm, Oswego Tea, Crimson Beebalm
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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