Melissa officinalis L., Sp. Pl. 592. 1753. Stewart, Ann. Cat. Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 617. 1972; Rech. f., Fl. Iran. 150: 494, t. 388. 1972; Tuljaganova in Vvedensky, Conspect. Fl. As. Med. 9: 159. 1987.
Vern. Balm or lemon-balm.
Perennial with sturdy stems 60-100 cm, branched in region of inflorescence, with an indumentum of long spreading eglandular hairs or very short glands, ± densely leafy. Leaves with a pleasant lemony fragrance, up to 8 x 5 cm, lower cordate, upper cuneate, crenate-dentate, acute, with scattered adpressed eglandular hairs adaxially, usually gland-dotted below, sometimes densely pubescent; petiole up to 4 cm; upper leaves subtending verticillasters, smaller than lower. Verticillasters numerous, 6-8-flowered, distant. Bracts linear, c. 4 x 2 mm. Pedicels erect-spreading, 3-5 mm. Calyx 6-8 mm; upper lip with 3 very short spinulose teeth; lower lip with 2 longer narrowly triangular subulate teeth; calyx scarcely expanded in fruit, sub-5-angular; indumentum of glandular and eglandular hairs. Corolla white, cream or lilac, 10-14 mm, soon deciduous. Nutlets 4, c. 2 x 1 mm, mucilaginous on wetting.
Described from Geneva and Italy (LINN 745/1 - microfiche!).
Distribution: S. Europe, Mediterranean region eastwards to Iran. Grown as a culinary herb in various parts of the world.
Sometimes cultivated for the lemon fragrance of the crushed leaves, and occasionally used in herbal teas.