Monarda is a genus of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. The genus is native to North America. Common names include bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea, and bergamot. The genus was named after the Spanish botanist Nicolás Monardes, who wrote a book in 1574 describing plants of the New World. They grow erect to heights of 20–90 cm (8–35 in). The flowers are tubular and bilaterally symmetric, with a narrow upper lip and a wider lower lip. The wild flowers are single, but some cultivated forms have double flowers. They are hermaphroditic, with male and female structures in each flower. They are typically crowded head-like clusters of flowers with leafy bracts. Flower colour varies, with wild species bearing red, pink, and light purple flowers.
The crushed leaves of all species exude a spicy, fragrant essential oil. Several species, including Monarda fistulosa and M. didyma, have a long history of use as medicinal plants by many Native Americans. Bee balm is a natural source of the antiseptic compound thymol, the primary active ingredient in some modern commercial mouthwash formulas.