Sunday, 18 March 2018

Scarlet Beebalm

"Monarda didyma - Scarlet Beebalm", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

As promised, with this posting I begin a series featuring red/pink flowers.  While this first choice, Beebalm, is not a particularly pretty plant, it is a plant I have enjoyed finding in the wild as its bright colour and raggedy look have always made me smile!


Monarda didyma, also known as Scarlet Beebalm or Oswego tea, is an aromatic herb in the family Lamiaceae. It is native to eastern North America from New Brunswick west to Ontario and Minnesota and south along the eastern seaboard from Maine to northern Georgia. 

The name Beebalm comes from the folk use of crushed leaves to soothe bee stings. The name Oswego Tea comes from the fact that the leaves were used as a tea by the Oswego Nation living in what is now New York State. Early European settlers in this area also used the plant for this purpose when regular tea was scarce. Its odour is considered similar to that of the bergamot orange (the source of bergamot oil used to flavor Earl Grey tea), hence this plant is occasionally called Wild Bergamot. 

This hardy, perennial plant grows to 1.5 m in height. The leaves are opposite and dark green with coarsely toothed margins. Beebalm has raggedy, bright red tubular flowers borne on showy heads with reddish bracts. It grows in dense clusters along stream banks, thickets, and ditches, flowering from mid- to late summer. 

Beebalm has a long history of use as a medicinal plant by many Indigenous North American groups, including the Blackfeet. The Blackfeet peoples recognized this plant's strong antiseptic action, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections, minor wounds and insect bites such as bee stings. Herbal tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Beebalm is the natural source of the antiseptic, thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago peoples used a herbal tea made from beebalm as a general stimulant. It was also used by Indigenous peoples to treat excessive flatulence. 

The genus name, Monarda, honours Nicholas Monardes (1493-1588), physician and botanist of Seville. The specific name, didyma, comes from the Latin and means “in pairs” in reference to the plant stamens being in pairs.

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources. 


Suki wondering why I called her name!
Suki has had a couple of relatively quiet weeks since my last posting.

The fire alarm did go off around 10:30 a.m. one morning last week which caused Suki to make a mad dash for her box at the back of the bedroom closet.  However, it was a false alarm and as soon as the fire department arrived at the building and made a quick check, they turned off our incredibly loud alarm system.  It took about an hour after the alarm ceased ringing for Suki to finally emerge from the closet, but, apparently, the trauma was soon forgotten in her anticipation of lunch!

Otherwise, Suki has spent portions of every day curled up under the blanket I still need to keep over my feet when I am resting in my recliner (our daytime high temperatures are still just a few degrees above freezing!).  

I am continuing to give her the pain medication each day and, so far, it seems to be controlling her pain.  I still have to be very gentle when I am brushing the area around her hips and tail, but so long as I don't press too hard, Suki seems to be willing to endure my efforts to control the normal shedding of her fur.  

She loves it when I brush around her head and ears and frequently tries to keep me from stopping when my hands begin to tire and ache.  I think I need to invent some sort of brushing machine that Suki could operate on her own although, knowing her, she would probably keep brushing until she was practically bald over her chin and cheekbones (her favourite places for hard brushing)!

As for me, things have been pretty quiet as well.

Week before last, I had a follow-up appointment with my family doctor who decided that since I hadn't had any blood work or ultrasounds for a year, I should have them.  Fortunately, I was able to have the blood work done prior to leaving the clinic that day although I had to return for the ultrasound a few days later since I needed to be fasting.  I will be seeing her in order to get the results of these tests this coming Thursday .  

As well, I have my "every six months" appointment with the ophthalmologist this coming week.  Fortunately, the week after this one should be another quiet week for me -- and, hopefully, for Suki.

I was saddened this past week to hear about the death of Stephen Hawking.  We have lost a great mind, a preeminent scientist and a fascinating personality.  How interesting it is to recall that when Hawking was first diagnosed with ALS, during the time he was studying for a graduate degree in physics at Cambridge, he was told he had, at the most, two years to live -- and yet he lived to be 76.  

Before I post again, there will be the Christian celebrations of Palm Sunday and Good Friday as well as the beginning of the Jewish Passover celebrations.  My next posting will actually be on April lst, Easter Sunday.  How quickly we seem to have gone from Christmas to Easter.  I know they say that time seems to pass more quickly as we age, but this is ridiculous!

Anyway, let me wish those who celebrate these festivities all the blessings and joys that they are meant to bring.  And, may those of you who do not celebrate these occasions continue to experience many blessings and joys as well.



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