The Herb of the Month for March 2020 is Bergamot Orange Citrus xbergamia.

Essential oil users prize the fragrance of this herb and the oils which are extracted from the rind and its leaves. Throughout the centuries it has continued to be used as a fragrance and in the perfume industry. It is loved because its complex tones blend well with many other scents and because of its mood-enhancing qualities.

Another use for bergamot is as a flavor enhancer of Earl Grey Tea. It is not known if it was an accidental combination that occurred during shipping in the cargo hold of a British clipper, or if it was intentionally added to low grade tea leaves to make them more palatable and marketable. This flavor combination continues to be very popular. 

The bitter fruit of this herb is not usually eaten but can be made into a lovely bitter marmalade or in the manufacture of a digestive bitter. Calabria in the southern part of Italy, Brazil, Argentina, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, and Turkey are known as production centers for this essential oil. Another very practical use for bergamot essential oil is as an insect repellant. ~~ Reni Erskine

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