Melissa (plant)

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Melissa officinalis
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Mentheae
Genus: Melissa
  • Mutelia Gren. ex Mutel

Melissa is a genus of perennial herbs in the family Lamiaceae. Its species are native to Europe and Asia but cultivated and naturalized in many other places.[1][2][3][4] The name Melissa is derived from the Greek word μέλισσα (mélissa) meaning "honeybee", 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,[5] and as balm in England.[6]


  1. Melissa axillaris (Benth.) Bakh.f. - China, Tibet, Taiwan, Himalayas, Indochina, Sumatra, Java
  2. Melissa flava Benth. ex Wall. - Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Himalayas of northern + Eastern India
  3. Melissa officinalis L. - Mediterranean, southwestern + central Asia from Portugal + Morocco to Tajikistan; naturalized in northern Europe, New Zealand, United States, Canada, southern South America
  4. Melissa yunnanensis C.Y.Wu & Y.C.Huang - Tibet, Yunnan


They are very frost hardy plants which prefer full sun or light shade if summers are hot. They are quick growing. M. officinalis has become naturalised in many parts of the world.


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Flora of China Vol. 17 Page 225 蜜蜂花属 mi feng hua shu Melissa Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 592. 1753.
  3. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, genere Melissa includes range maps for Europe and North America
  4. ^ Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution map for Melissa officinalis
  5. ^ Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc. 1987. p. 355.
  6. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Balm" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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