Beautiful Bee Balm

The tall wildflower Bee Balm attracts attention from a distance with its tall wedding cake layers, and then draws you in with layers of decorative detail.

Bee Balm (Monarda punctata) in the field.

The pink “petals” are actually bracts, as on a Poinsettia.

I love the two-color combination on the large bracts, usually pink on the top and light green on the bottom.  The colors vary from plant to plant — the bracts can appear pale silver-washed green or pink, or an intense purple.  (You can click on the pictures to see them larger.)

And even more, I love the tiny, speckled, orchid-like forms beneath the bracts.  I can picture these colors and textures turned into beautiful ball gowns or ballet tutus.

Layers of complexity.

A closer look at the speckled petals, which are only about 1/4 inch long.

Tiny hairs on the tops of the petals, and a curving structure underneath that bears the pollen.

A visiting wasp loaded with pollen.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a post about five Monarda species Staff members have challenged each other to see how many layers they can find in a towering bloom, and so far the winner has 13!  I have only managed to find a plant with 6 layers, here.

I am linking to Cee’s Flower of the Day.  Every day Cee and her followers share inspiring photos of flowers, that provide a moment of relaxation and wonder.