Melissa (plant)

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Melissa officinalis01.jpg
Melissa officinalis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Melissa

Melissa is a genus of five species of perennial herbs native to Europe and Asia. The name Melissa is derived from the Greek word mélissa meaning honey, owing to the abundance of nectar in the flowers. The stems are square, like most other plants in the mint family. The leaves are borne in opposite pairs on the stems, and are usually ovate or heart-shaped and emit a lemony scent when bruised. Axillary spikes of white or yellowish flowers appear in the summer.

The most commonly grown species of this genus is Melissa officinalis, commonly known in the United States as lemon balm,[1] and as balm in England.[2]


They are very frost hardy plants which prefer full sun or light shade if summers are hot. They are quick growing, and look especially good along paths, herb gardens, or among ferns when grown in pots. Slightly moist, well-drained soil is best. Propagate from seed sown in spring. Variegated forms are propagated by root division or from young spring cuttings. M. officinalis has become naturalised in many parts of the world.


  1. ^ Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc. 1987. p. 355.
  2. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Balm". Encyclopædia Britannica 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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