Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Purple Burgamot - Monarda media   Willdenow
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Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Lamiaceae
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AuthorWilldenow
DistributionRestricted to the mountains, and essentially only (or primarily) at high elevations. Specimens from Beaufort County must surely relate to a non-natural occurrence.

This is a Northern taxon, probably of hybrid origin, occurring from VT to IN, south to MD; disjunct sparingly to western NC and eastern TN.
AbundanceApparently very to rare in the southern mountains, and very rare at best in the central/northern mountains, even though this is a Northern species. Not well known owing to confusion with the similar M. fistulosa var. rubra, which also is quite poorly known in the mountains. The NCNHP lists this as a Significantly Rare taxon, with a State Rank of S1?, appropriate for what relatively little is known about it in NC.
HabitatThis species is found at high elevations in NC, mainly at grassy balds and in high elevation forests; it apparently favors some seepage or damp ground at these sites.
PhenologyBlooms from July to September, and fruits from September to October.
IdentificationThis is a fairly tall Monarda species, growing unbranched or with a few branches, to about 3' tall. It has several pairs of opposite leaves like others in the genus, being ovate to lanceolate, about 3-4" long and about half as wide; they have a tapering tip and a rounded base, with a short petiole. The flower cluster at the top of the stem or a branch has numerous bright purple flowers, in the typical Monarda shape, and about 10-20 in bloom simultaneously. Though the flower color will separate this species from M. didyma, M. clinopodia, M. austroappalachiana, and most individuals of M. fistulosa, there is one scarce variety of the last species (var. rubra) that also has purple flowers. However, M. fistulosa leaves tend to be lanceolate, usually about 1" wide or less, and they are about 3 times as long as wide, rather than 2 times as long as wide in M. media.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2018) goes into considerable detail about the taxonomic status of this taxon. He does state that "M. media is a problematic taxon, especially in combination with M. fistulosa var. rubra." Many to most references consider M. media of hybrid origin, and some of them list the species as Monarda x media, to indicate a taxon or "species" of hybrid origin. It is suggested to be a hybrid between M. didyma and either M. clinopodia or M. fistulosa, or both. It is quite surprising that NatureServe does not add a "?" to the Global Rank.

Other Common Name(s)Purple Beebalm
State RankS1?
Global RankG4?
State StatusSR-P
US Status
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