BALM (Lemon Balm) (malissa officinalis - labiatae)
Comes from central and southern Europe. A perennial mint-like plant, it grows to between 60cm and 90cm high with a similar spread. The heart-shaped leave have a lemon scent when bruised. The tiny white flowers borne in scanty axillary clusters are not spectacular.
Balm grows well throughout South Africa, provided it can be watered throughout the year. It may die down during winter in very cold regions, but the root reshoots vigorously in Spring. Plants can be raised from seed (which is slow to germinate) or from division which is quicker and more reliable. The plants do best in rich moist soil where they get some shade in hot areas. The delicate lemon flavour of the leaves is appetising in cold drinks, salads, sauces and so on. It is a useful ingredient for potpourri, herb pillows and in herb mixtures for baths. Useful near fruit trees as it attracts bees, which helps pollination.