White Waštémna?!

Yesterday, I went out to harvest this plant that has so many names in Lakota and English — waȟpé waštémna, heȟáka tȟapȟéžuta, wild bergamot, beebalm, elk medicine, Monarda fistulosa.

I was surprised to find, in addition to the many magenta flowerheads that were popping out of the hillside to announce their presence, a small number of white blooms.

I reached out to my mentor about this, and she, over in Minnesota, had taken a similar picture of white waštémna flowers only an hour before!

While it’s a less common color and definitely a variant, the white flowers do occur sometimes. I couldn’t speak to any differences in their properties on a biochemical level, but they smell and taste the same as the fuscia ones.

This is an extremely powerful medicinal plant, and a very important medicine for herbalists in the Dakotas and perhaps beyond. I’ll write another post just dedicated to Waštémna as a medicinal plant.

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