The perfect plant for pollinators, bee balm is often grown in edible and medicinal gardens for its ability to attract bees and butterflies. It’s easy to grow and care for and produces beautiful red spikes of flower clusters that will attract visitors of all kinds to your garden.
Also known as bergamot, oswego tea, and monarda, this plant is hardy and has long been used in households all around North America. But what many people aren’t aware of is that this plant is actually entrenched in deep meaning and symbolism.
If you’ve never given a second thought to the meaning of this flowering plant, this article will tell you all that you need to know.
What Does Bee Balm Mean?
Bee balm plant is a member of the genus Monarda. This genus was named in honor of Nicolas Bautista Monardes. A Spanish botanist, Monardes died in 1588 and wrote one of the earliest European books on native American plants.
Also a member of the mint family, bee balm has a name that references its connection to the local environment. Bee balm is known for its ability to attract bees, but also for its medicinal value.
Not only can the plant be used to treat conditions ranging from headaches to sore throats and even digestive upsets, but it also produces a resin that can be used to treat bee stings.
What Does the Bee Balm Flower Symbolize?
Because of its many uses as a medicinal plant, bee balm most commonly symbolizes good health along with protection from evil and illness. It also represents fertility – often seen as a hallmark of good health – and can promote restful sleep.
Bee balm symbolizes good fortune in another way, too – it can be used to represent wealth and money. Its various colors take on different meanings, too, but more often than not the plant has positive connotations and represents good health, protection from illness, and prosperity.
What is the Cultural Significance of Bee Balm?
Bee balm has long been utilized for its culinary and medicinal purposes. Various Native American tribes, including the Blackfoot, Winnebago, and Ojibwa tribes, used the plant in a variety of ways. It was frequently ground into a poultice to treat minor wounds and skin infections. It has strong antiseptic properties that help speed up the healing process and prevent further infection.
It also was used in a tea to prevent gingivitis and dental caries, along with other throat and mouth infections. As an aromatic essential oil, it can also be used as a hair tonic or in perfumes. It is frequently eaten in herbal teas, in salads, and as a garnish. It can even be used to treat fevers and headaches.
Early American colonists also used bee balm in an alternative tea named Owego tea. This was used as a “weapon” against England and was consumed after the famous Boston Tea Party, during which colonists tossed English tea into the harbor to protest high tea taxes.
What is the Symbolism of a Bee Balm Flower Tattoo?
Bee balm most often symbolizes prosperity in its various forms. A bee balm tattoo, then, can be used to demonstrate pride in one’s success, whether that’s related to finances, a career, or even fertility.
When Should You Give Someone a Bee Balm Flower?
Bee balm is the perfect flower to give anybody who likes to garden. It is not traditionally given as a cut flower, as it tends to wilt relatively quickly, although it would make the perfect gift as a live plant. It is easy to grow and care for and provides a wonderful avenue for pollination.
If you want to give someone the gift of good luck, prosperity, and good health, bee balm is the ideal choice.
Learn more about other flowers and their meanings on our blog.
See more: Bee balm companion plants
*Photo by weha/depositphotos