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Lemon Balm

(Melissa officinalis)

Other Names:

Not to be confused with Bee Balm.

Range:

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

Perennial herbaceous plant. A member of the mint family

Height:

Grows 2ft - 3ft tall. Sometimes taller in ideal soil conditions.

Leaves:

The leaves have a mild lemon scent, arranged alternately along the stem, are heart shaped, bluntly serrated, and have veins extending from a prominent midrib. Like many other members of the mint family, the leaf surface appears almost wrinkled.

Stem/Trunk:

Multiple branched square herbaceous stems.

Root:

N/A

Flower:

Season:

Summer

Appearance:

Small white 4 petaled flowers. The flowers are full of nectar and attract many bees. This is the reason for the genus name Melissa which is Greek for honey bee.

Seed/Fruit:

N/A

Miscellaneous characteristics:

N/A

Habitat:

This plant has escaped cultivation and is now native to about half of the continental US. Growing in open fields, waste areas, and edge of forests. Prefers Sandy well drained soils, and full light, although is semi-shade tolerant.

Parts Used:

Aerial parts of the plant

Uses:

Wild Food Uses:

Can be used to flavor teas as well as candies and ice creams. The leaves can be added to dishes as a flavoring. A lemon balm pesto is a great topping for pastas and fish.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

This plant has been shown to be effective in the treatment of herpes simplex. It is claimed to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, make a good repellant for mosquitoes. Used as a mild sedative and calming agent, it has been shown to be effective at relieving stress. It has also been shown to improve mood and mental performance. It has also shown promise in treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease. There is also evidence that Lemon Balm is effective in the treatment of Grave's Disease, or hyperthyroidism.

Medicinal Actions:

Antibiotic, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, Antiviral, Anxiolytic, Bactericidal, Hypnotic, Nervine, Relaxant, Sedative

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield