Its botanical name, monarda was given after the Spanish medical botanist, Dr. Nicholas Monardes of Seville, who described wild bergamot in his work, American Floras, in 1571. Monardes probably called Monarda, bergamot because the leaf fragrance resembles Italian bergamot. John Bartram of Philadelphia was instrumental in introducing the plant into England. He collected seed near Oswego, New York and sent them to Peter Collinson. Collinson named the plant "Oswego tea" after it bloomed in his garden in 1745. The other common name, bee balm, came about when people used the flowers to make it into a poultice, taking the sting out of bee stings. The poultice was used for other skin disorders, too.
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Information source: University of Missouri - Horticulture