It has square stems and bright green leaves with scalloped edges. It produces very small white flowers.
The leaves don’t need much coaxing to release their lemon-like scent: just brushing the plant will do it. When cutting some, watch out for bees because they love the plant.
Lemon Balm is used in making Benedictine and Chartreuse liqueurs.
Lemon Balm smells more lemony than it actually tastes; the taste is very faint.
Lemon Balm can be used in desserts, especially ones such as fruit salads, or in savoury dishes such as sauces for fish or chicken. It is particularly good with fish and steamed vegetables or boiled potatoes. Add at the very end of cooking to preserve the scent. The leaves can be scratchy so use in moderation.
A jaunty sprig of Lemon Balm is often put into a glass of Pimm’s.
Lemon Balm will intensify the lemon aroma of any dish using lemon juice.
Lemon Verbena, Lemon Thyme, or a small amount of finely grated lemon zest.
Lemon Balm was native to Southern Europe or Northern Africa. It was used medicinally by the Greeks, who thought it to have sterilizing and calming properties.
Romans called it “apiastrum” (‘apias’ meant bee) because bees love the plant. The Romans introduced it into Britain. They often used it to freshen the smell of rooms, and they used it medicinally, as had the Greeks before them.
Damrosch, Barbara. The lovely, pesky herb named lemon balm. Washington Post. 19 June 2012.