Summer Mint Makes Me Feel Fine

A July treat here in Boulder Colorado is the arrival of Summer mint…

Bergamot Flower

This beautiful, aromatic plant is called Bergamot or Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa). While I like it for the gorgeous flower, wild bergamot was considered a medicinal plant by many Native American tribes. It is the natural source of the antiseptic thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. In addition to alleviating bad breath it was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental decay and gingivitis. The leaves have the taste of strong mint. For many years I confused this plant with bergamot orange, an unrelated citrus plant used to flavor Earl Grey tea and make an essential oil (oil of bergamot).

Bergamots all have multiple flowers in dense heads with the pollen producing stamens protruding…

Bergamot Close-up

While Bergamot comes in many colors, here in Boulder it is usually a shade of magenta. We do have some that are white like this one on the Sanitas Valley Trail

White Bergamot Flower

My favorite purple bergamot vista is on the Mesa Trail between the North and South Forks of the Shanahan Ridge Trail. This is the perfect time to witness this yearly minty spectacle. I get there by hiking the North Fork Shanahan Ridge Trail  about 1 mile/1.6 km from the trail entrance on Lehigh Road up to the Mesa Trail and proceeding South. It is about halfway between the North and South Shanahan forks on the Mesa Trail. The total round trip distance is 2.2mi/3.5km from the access point.

Turn left at this sign…

Mesa Trail Sign

From here, it’s a short walk to the vista. I captured this panorama on July 23, 2009 @ 39°57’36.12″N 105°16’47.56″W…

Bear Peak Bergamot

I returned on July 19th, 2015 to capture this image from a slightly different angle…

Bear Peak Bergamot Vista-2 (12x5.4)

When I was there the flowers were being visited by our precious bees

Bee on Bergamot

…and hummingbirds

Bergamot with Hummingbird

The bergamot flowers won’t be there long so now is the time for your visit. The summer mint will make you feel fine and improve your breath.

Shanahan Ridge with Bergamot-3 (10x5)

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6 Responses to “Summer Mint Makes Me Feel Fine”

  1. Connie Clancy Says:

    Gorgeous photos, Rich. Nice to learn about the plants, too.

  2. Ken Westlund Says:

    Thanks for sending out this information and great photos! I will definitely look for the flower this month.

  3. Susan Says:

    Very interesting. Thanks

  4. mstone04@verizon.net Says:

     nice. I’ve been watching our local bees buzzing around mint flowers.  

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