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lemon balm - melissa officinalis - tea

Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis L.

When I think of lemon balm, the sun immediately starts to shine. Thing is, I like to put some leaves of this plant in water when the weather is nice, so for me lemon balm equals summertime. It is one of the first plants to appear in my herb garden. Not only because it makes me happy, but also because she is an excellent bee plant and therefore immediately brings life to the yard. A plant monograph of lemon balm should therefore not be left out in this plant vademecum.

One of lemon balm’s folk names is cure-all and that isn’t without reason. As modest as she appears, she has a broad scope. She helps against ailments in the stress and nervousness sphere, helps to get a good night’s sleep, not in the least because she works against nightmares and anxiety. But lemon balm also operates against gastrointestinal disorders, especially those related to stress, anxiety and nervousness. In the Netherlands one of lemon balm’s folk names is vrouwenkruid, which means women’s herb, which refers to her effect on menstrual complaints. She also has an anti-viral effect, specialising in herpes viruses.

Magically lemon balm is certainly no less interesting. She is mainly used for love and fertility magic and healing magic, but can be used just as well if you need some success or money. Interesting detail, in some regions it is recommended to collect the herb naked for optimal effect.

Botanical description

Lemon balm is a perennial plant. It has a small rootstock which divides into numerous lateral root which are tough and fibrous. Lemon balm is a herbaceous plant that looks like a shrub because it grows in clumps. Numerous erect, square, hairy stems grow from the rootstock. The leaves are dessucate, ovate with a crenate, sometimes serrate, leaf margin. They are reticulate, green to yellow-green in colour, 1 to 5 cm wide and 2 to 9 cm long, covered with fine hairs. There are numerous small oil glands at the bottom of the leaf.
The flowers of the lemon balm are small, two-lipped and white (sometimes pink) in colour. They bloom in false whorls in the axils of the upper leaves. The schizocarps are quadrilocular, ovoid and dark in colour.

Interesting facts

Lemon balm attracts bees but repels other insects. I like to have her around where I like to sit.
Lemon balm likes to be around cabbage.
Beekeepers planted lemon balm near their hives to keep the bees happy.

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