Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oswego Tea...Bergamot...Monarda

Or just simply BEE BALM.  When my friend Tonia gave these to me, that's what she called them. 

Obviously, with a name like bee balm, the bees love it.  But so do butterflies and hummingbirds!  How could they resist?  Those bright and beautiful blooms seem to draw you in and once you get close enough, the fragrance will do the same.  And you know what else?  Those blooms are EDIBLE!  Not that I've ever used them in my cooking, but I do like to read up on the plants I have to find out their history, uses, soil and water preferences, etc.  Bee balm happens to be related to mint.  The leaves can be used for tea or to add flavor to jellies and the flowers are good in salads, or so they say. 
I visited here and found this info regarding medicinal uses:

Bee Balm leaves and flowers and stems are used in alternative medicine as an antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant. An infusion is medicinal used internally in the treatment of colds, catarrh, headaches, and gastric disorders, to reduce low fevers and soothe sore throat, to relieve flatulence, nausea, menstrual pain, and insomnia. Steam inhalation of the plant can be used for sore throats, and bronchial catarrh (inflammation of the mucus membrane, causing an increased flow of mucus). Externally, it is a medicinal application for skin eruptions and infections. Bergamot's distinctive aroma, found in both the leaf and flower is wonderful for use in potpourri.

Are you a brave enough soul to try such things?  I mean, I know I use and eat plants (or portions of them) every day of my life.  We use vegetables and herbs all the time!  I just have trouble considering ingesting something out of my flower bed, ya know?  Something I planted for the sake of decoration.  Like pansies.  I've known for years that they're edible but that doesn't mean I've eaten a ton of them.  They're really pretty when you sugar them to decorate cakes and such, or even thrown into a salad, but I can't bring myself to actually eat them! 

So tell me, what do you grow and eat that is 
a little out of the ordinary?