LEMON BALM / BEE BALM (Melissa officinalis)

Europe to C Asia

Lemon Balm


Small, fragrant flowers – SOFT YELLOW opening to WHITE – appear at intervals along the stems of this easy-to-grow perennial wildflower in summer.  It grows to 32 inches tall, preferring moist soil in sun or part shade.

Cultivated for over 2,000 years, tea brewed from the leaves of Lemon Balm is therapeutic, soothing away melancholy & reviving the tired brain.

‘An extremely useful plant to colonize dry, dusty areas of the garden where nothing else will grow. The smell is an added bonus – crush a couple of leaves whenever you walk past to release the tangy lemon aroma’.

  GROW YOUR OWN DRUGS, James Wong, Collins, 2009

DANU’S IRISH HERB GARDEN: The Power of Lemon Balm.

Terri Conroy
makes a strong case for Lemon Balm on her website. We have grown it before but did not know of its medicinal qualities as a tea or infusion. Now we are keen to try again, with some Lemon Balm kept aside for humans, & the rest allowed to flower for the bees. Danu’s Irish Herb Garden is always worth watching.

Lemon Balm with Hardy Geranium, front garden                      Lemon Balm.Bees’ Favourite.

‘Nothing but good can be said of this rather insignificant-looking and unassuming herb. It is a valuable bee plant, and, according to Pliny, acted as a sort of sign-post, in case any bee was in danger of getting lost. “Bees are delighted with this herbe above all others… when they are straid away, they do finde their way home againe by it.” ‘The leaves of balm are still rubbed inside the hives after the hiving of a new swarm, to encourage the newcomers to stay.

Lesley Gordon, GREEN MAGIC – FLOWERS, PLANTS and HERBS in LORE and LEGEND,  Ebury Press, Webb & Bower Ltd, Exeter.


Bee Balm crop


“Lemon balm is most popular as an ingredient of herb teas, having a pleasant flavour and calming effect. Paracelsus (1493-1541) called it “the elixir of life” and John Evelyn (1620-1706) described it as “sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory, and powerfully chasing away melancholy”.

RHS ENCYCLOPEDIA of HERBS & THEIR USES . Deni Bown, Dorling Kindersley, 1995

Other Names: Balm, Cure-all, Dropsy Plant, Honey Plant, Melissa, Melissa folim, Melissa officinalis, Sweet Balm, Sweet Mary.