2013 January notes

January 26, 2013

Stream team notes

  • This was a snow day and      our whole site was covered with snow (very pretty).
  • We saw 5 squirrel nests.      We saw 4 turkey vultures.
  • We removed a lot of      bamboo. We also measured the area that we want to replant. The area is      70-80 ft wide, 60-65 ft long. Rock Creek stream is on one side of the area      and the asphalted walkway is on the other. The area has a shape of a      square (more or less). Seven to eight mature trees surround it. The middle      of this  square gets a lot of sun.      This is the area that was overgrown by bamboo before. Other areas we can      replant continue along the asphalted pathway, about 10ft wide each. All      together these area stretch for a few hundred feet. The ground is not      even, there are lower areas along the path.
  • Sycamores grow along the      stream shore. The area we propose for replanting is not mowed by the      parks.
  • In general the park and      our site is very degraded , devastated with invasive species (garlic      mustard, honeysuckle, multiflora rosa)
  • The plant expert from the      neighborhood, who stopped by at our work day, explained to us that a lot      of pink and purple species of monarda grow a the area that we want to      restore.

Monarda (bergamot or bee balm) is a genus consisting of roughly 16 species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. The genus is endemic to North America.

Common names include bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea, and bergamot, the last one due to the leaves’ fragrance resembling that of Citrus bergamia fruits. The genus was named for Nicolás Monardes, who wrote a book in 1574 describing plants found in the New World.

Description

Monarda species include annual and perennial upright growing herbaceous plants. Ranging in height from 20–90 cm (8–35 in), the plants have an equal spread, with slender and long-tapering (lanceolate) leaves. The leaves are opposite on the stem, smooth to sparsely hairy, with lightly serrated margins, and ranging from 3 to 6 inches (7 to 14 cm) in length.

The flowers are tubular with bilateral symmetry and bilabiate; with upper lips narrow and the lower ones broader and spreading or deflexed. The flowers are single or in some cultivated forms double, generally hermaphroditic with two stamens. Plants bloom in mid- to late summer and the flowers are produced in dense profusion at the ends of the stem and/or in the stem axils. The flowers typically are crowded into head-like clusters with leafy bracts. Flower colors vary, with wild forms of the plant having crimson-red to red, pink and light purple hues. M. didyma has bright, carmine red blossoms; M. fistulosa—the “true” wild bergamot—has smoky pink flowers. M. citriodora and M. pectinata have light lavender to lilac-colored blooms and have slightly decreased flower quantities. Both species are commonly referred to as “Lemon Mint.” “M. didyma” species can grow up to 6 feet tall. Seed collected from hybrids—as with most hybridized plants—does not produce identical plants to the parent. A number of hybrids also occur in the wild.

Uses

In all species, the leaves, when crushed, exude a spicy, highly fragrant oil. Of the species examined in one study, M. didyma (Oswego Tea) was found to contain the highest concentration of this oil. Several bee balm species (Monarda fistulosa and Monarda didyma) have a long history of use as a medicinal plants by many Native Americans including the Blackfoot, Menominee, Ojibwa and Winnebago. The Blackfoot Indians recognized the strong antiseptic action of these plants, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds. A tisane made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Bee balm is the natural source of the antiseptic Thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago used a tisane made from bee balm as a general stimulant. Bee balm was also used as a carminative herb by Native Americans to treat excessive flatulenc.An infusion of crushed Monarda left in boiling water has been used to treat headaches and fevers.

Although somewhat bitter, due to the thymol content in the leaves and buds, the plant tastes like a mix of spearmint and peppermint with oregano. Bee balm was traditionally used by Native Americans as a seasoning for wild game, particularly birds. The plants are widespread across North America and can be found in moist meadows, hillsides, and forest clearings up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in elevation.

Scientific   classification

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae

 

Results from the monitoring

 

Quote of the month

“Everything is so beautiful in the snow!”

–        A parent volunteer