Purple burgamot

Purple bergamot is making a surprising showing in the North Dakota Badlands. It’s native to woody wet areas in Michigan and east.

Sunny and Wet

It’s an unusual year to visit the North Dakota Badlands.  It’s the end of July. It’s green.  Unlike the last two years, wildfires are not an issue. Flash flooding is.  There’s been plenty of rain and the 2017 drought is history.  It’s been a good summer to see green grasslands, blue skies, and white clouds — even storm clouds.  Oh, and purple flowers. They’re everywhere!

Now with sunshine, all those pretty wildflowers are coming out of hiding and that includes the Purple Bergamot.  It’s not common in this area according to plant specialists.  It’s more prolific in the northeast and in Ontario.  Michigan grows a good crop of this wildflower.

Hiking the hilltops south of the Little Missouri River and the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we found several flourishing beds of this mysterious wildflower.  It wasn’t until we got home and looked it up that we could figure out what it is.

purple bergamot

Purple bergamot root system spread the plant in an area where it is established.

Purple Bergamot

We found out Purple Bergamot prefers sunny and wet conditions and grows well in flood plains or low woods.  I guess that’s why it’s growing here. It’s been sunny and wet.

The plant is actually a tea-making plant. When you crush the leaves in your hand you can smell mint, and that’s why many people grow it in the northeastern U.S.  Here, the purple bergamot has been used by the Hidatsa people to cured skin eruptions, reduce fevers and treat colds.

purple bergamot

Purple coneflower grows next to a bergamot patch.


Nearing the end of the flowering stage another purple flower, purple coneflower or echinacea is another wildflower showing itself this wet summer. 

purple bergamot

Purple coneflower grows next to a bergamot patch.


While purple seems to be the color of the month in Badlands wildflowers, yellow is in abundance also and will remain visible as lazy susans and wild sunflower bloom.



You can buy purple bergamot seeds to introduce them to your wildflower stand.  Buy here.

But wait! There’s more!

Gee, we’ve found people like to see pretty flowers growing out here in the Badlands. So, stay tuned. We’ll give you more in the next couple weeks. Subscribe to get a note in your inbox when that article is ready.

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Coming up “Hot Weather Hiking” and “Bison Looking for Love,” oh, and Sitting Bull at Fort Buford. We’re working on that one, too!