The north side of the fields we have a meadow of bee balm (Monarda fistulosa).
These happily are also dwelling in the forest understory and highlight the way to my wild black raspberry patch. It is hard to explain the scent these give off when we walk through them, kind of lemony with spice notes.
This plant is a native and is also found pretty much across the US. It is also considered a "honey plant" as it puts out decent amounts of pollen and nectar. The humming birds and bees are constantly all over them making the forest hum.
Monarda fistulosa is the species we have and it is in peak bloom right now. It is a perennial and although it spreads more often by way of rhizome, it does also offer viable seeds. The seeds from this species needs cold stratification. I'll be collecting seeds from these to start patches closer to the farmhouses.
The flowers and the leaves can be used fresh or dried to make tea. The best time to pick any herb is very early in the morning when it has the highest levels of essential oils. Essential oils are very volatile and exposure to heat and light will cause them to dissipate. This also would be why you want to dry herbs in an area that has good air flow, is cool, and out of light.. so you retain the flavor.
While some opt to use this plant as just a decorative addition to landscape, it can offer more than just eye candy. The tea made from this is rather refreshing and it can help if you have issues with heartburn or gas. There are other "issues" it is said to help.. but I have yet to try using it to relieve headaches , stomach aches or acne. Frankly.. I just find the tea lovely.
This plant is in the mint family... and like it's cousin.. it can sometimes spread. Once established, it requires almost no care. Along the edge of a forested area, or where there is an opening in the canopy these plants take off. They can handle partial shade and seem to thrive when getting a break from the scorching summer sun.
I guess if you were to do a native planting.. they get along with sumac, black caps, gooseberry and black walnut.