Scientific name Melissa officinalis, Lemon Balm is a hardy perennial that can grow up to 2 feet tall. This plant divides and conquers, spreading very easily across gardens. It has dark green, wrinkled leaves with petite cream-yellow flowers. The herb is a part of the mint family. The leaves have a quiet lemon scent, closely related to the mint herb.
Lemon Balm is more often found in the wild, rather than in gardens. To grow, this picky plant has several needs that must be met: at least 70 degree (Fahrenheit) atmospheric temperature, and plenty of light. This herb also needs moist, well drained, medium rich soil and can germinate and grow properly in partial sun as well.
This herb is used quite often as a flavoring. Found in ice creams, herbal teas, Lemon Balm is usually paired with spearmint. It can also be used in candies, and fruit dishes. With many other recipes it is used for, it has also been found to be a much healthier preservative with meats. Not only does it have tasty uses, it is also common in the medical realm.
Lemon Balm has been found to reduce stress and anxiety through use of aromatherapy, much like Lavender. Its extract has also been found to help eradicate and treat gastrointestinal tract disorders and issues with the nervous system. It is also used as a great mosquito repellant. But it does have some negative effects as well. It can inhibit the absorption of certain thyroid medications in humans.
Because this herb is so versatile, a careful eye is required to care and tend to it. Be sure to trim used or spent flowers, because Lemon Balm is always on the ready to re-seed. But a careful watch, this plant grows very quickly and can become a nuisance.
Fun Fact: This herb can be used as a mild sedative.