Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Spotted beebalm colony flowering

with 15 comments

Monarda punctata Colony 6572

Here’s a species that hasn’t appeared in these pages till now, Monarda punctata, known as spotted (or dotted) beebalm. According to the USDA, this wildflower grows in many parts of the United States.

I photographed the flowering colony in today’s picture along TX 71 east of Bastrop on June 5th.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 24, 2015 at 4:40 AM

15 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I haven’t noticed that plant. I will watch for it as we walk. The Monarda most common here is Monarda fistulosa. http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=MOFI
    Except it was not growing in my backyard. Just everywhere else. So, I transplanted some to see if that would get it going. It looks good after about a month.

    Jim in IA

    August 24, 2015 at 8:19 AM

    • From your link I see that Monarda fistulosa is even more widespread than Monarda punctata and that it grows in many counties in northeast Texas but not where I am in the center of the state.

      You say that Monarda fistulosa is the most common Monarda species in your part of Iowa. In Austin, that distinction goes to Monarda citriodora, which has appeared often enough in these pages:


      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2015 at 8:38 AM

  2. A balm for the bees and balm for my tired eyes which I must go to bed and close.


    August 24, 2015 at 9:08 AM

    • Let’s hope you’re 3+ hours into that sleep now and that you won’t see this reply for hours to come.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2015 at 12:23 PM

      • Just seeing your comment now although I have been awake for a few hours. By the way have you ever come across this native in your wanderings? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asimina_triloba


        August 24, 2015 at 8:16 PM

        • Happy awakening.
          I’ve heard of paw-paw but never (knowingly) seen one. The map in the article you linked to shows the species reaches westward into eastern Texas, but not into the center of the state where I am.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 24, 2015 at 9:15 PM

          • Sigh, I thought that might be the case. My awakening to the existence of the US native pawpaw came only two weeks ago, when I was looking for the origin of a children’s action song we sang in Fiji; “Where o where is dear little …..
            Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.”

            In Fiji we called papaya pawpaw, so, as a child, I was amazed that we actually had a song which related to our pawpaw trees. 55 years later I finally discover that the song is American in origin, and concerns a different type of pawpaw altogether. Maybe I will need another 10 years to figure out how the song became popular in Fiji. My first thought is through scouting/girl guides. Second thought; introduced by American service personnel in WW2.


            August 25, 2015 at 2:07 AM

            • Ah, I wondered why you suddenly asked that question. Here’s what I’ve learned. Paw-paw did come from the word papaya, which English took from Spanish, which had gotten it from an Arawak language of the Caribbean. Papaya, the tree, is native to the New World, though Europeans rapidly spread it to tropical regions around the world. The paw-paw also has large, edible fruit (in fact the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States), and early Anglo settlers in what is now the United States must have seen enough of a resemblance to papaya to apply the word for the one to the other. Such name transfers are common. Sometimes there’s a qualifier, e.g. prairie bishop’s weed to distinguish an American wildflower from the bishop’s weed that grew back in England; at other times people transfer a word with no qualifier, as in the case of papaya becoming paw-paw. As for the song you sang in childhood, my guess (and that’s all it is) is that American soldiers spread it around the Pacific during World War II, though perhaps missionaries or scouts had also done so earlier.

              Here are the references I used:




              Steve Schwartzman

              August 25, 2015 at 8:21 AM

              • Thanks for pointing out the name transfer; makes perfect sense, whereas my meandering thoughts did not. I hadn’t considered the missionaries but I think the early ones would have frowned upon such a frivolous song.


                August 26, 2015 at 12:19 AM

        • When I first came across paw-paw in this country, I was completely confused. In Liberia, paw-paw is a colloquial name for papaya — quite a different fruit!


          August 24, 2015 at 9:59 PM

          • Paw paw was the name for papaya where I grew up, too. I was in blissful ignorance of the US pawpaw until a couple of weeks ago. Do check out my comment to Steve on the subject. 🙂


            August 25, 2015 at 2:17 AM

  3. We’ve wild Monardas here too,including punctata, but I’ve only photographed the cultivated ones in our back yard. That’s quite a nice population.

    Steve Gingold

    August 24, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    • It was a good colony. I hope next spring you’ll find an equally good population in your neck of the woods.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2015 at 9:17 PM

  4. A friend who took a course in native plants and herbs says that beebalm has often been used for tinctures and teas. I presume that all varieties would do, although I don’t know that.

    I really like the presence of the broken tree branches in the photo. It certainly adds a “tincture of Texas” to the image.


    August 24, 2015 at 10:03 PM

    • Monarda citriodora, by far the most common species of Monarda in Austin, is reputed to be effective as an insect repellent. As for a tea, you can read what Delena Tull has to say about it.

      Your last sentence turns a fracture into a tincture. I, too, was fond of those dead branches, which I included in some of the other photographs I took of this colony.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2015 at 10:30 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: