These beautiful little flowers have been popping up all over our front yard and I could hardly wait for them!  Their spiky little heads bob in the warm wind while honeybees and butterflies flock to their sweet, spicy scent.  I had no idea until about a week ago, though, that these were wild Bergamot!  I'd been hunting for Bergamot plants for months.  I'd given up, thinking that they must not be available around here when, lo and behold, they're in my front yard!

These aren't true Bergamot, mind you, but they sure taste and smell just like the real deal.  There are many interesting websites such as the USDA that can give you a more thorough history of the uses of this unique native herb, if you're interested.

*Note: I'd like to stress that it isn't necessary to use the flowers (as some wild harvesting websites suggest) and I'd also ask that you didn't.  The leaves alone work great for teas and flavorings and the honeybees and insects that depend on the nectar from the flowers need them more than you do.  Also, it can help prevent over harvest if you only take a few leaves from each plant instead of their seed-producing flowers.

Gather a few leaves from each plant, preferably from near the bottom of the plant.  These leaves receive less sunlight and provide fewer nutrients for the plant, so it may be better for it in the long run.

makes: however much you gather
takes: 30 minutes to 2 hours dry time
freshly picked Bee Balm/Wild Bergamot leaves

Spread them on a baking sheet or a baking rack.

Preheat the oven (or use a dehydrator).  When it nearly reaches 100', turn it off, place the leaves inside, and allow to become crisp and dry (may take 30 minutes to two hours).
Crush the leaves and use them plain in tea and as an herb or mix them with other teas or herbs to create your own custom tea!

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