It grows to a maximum height of 1 m (3 ft 3 in). The leaves have a mild lemon scent. During summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear. It is not to be confused with bee balm (genus Monarda), although the white flowers attract bees, hence the genus Melissa (Greek for "honey bee").
The leaves are used as a herb, in teas, and also as a flavouring. The plant is used to attract bees for honey production. It is grown as an ornamental plant and for its oil (to use in perfumery). The tea of lemon balm, the essential oil, and the extract are used in traditional and alternative medicine, including aromatherapy. Lemon balm has been cultivated at least since the 16th century. Modern research is being conducted to establish the safety and effects of the plant on humans.
lemon balm (plural lemon balms)
- a perennial herb, Melissa officinalis, of southern Europe; used as a flavouring in ice cream etc
- Synonyms: balm, bee balm, sweet balm