by Stephen Mifsud
   25 Jul 2024      ()
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Melissa officinalis   (Balm)

Melissa officinalis  (LAMIACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Melissa officinalis - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 25-Jul-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Melissa officinalisL.
Published in Sp. Pl. : 592 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Thymus melissa E.H.L.Krause
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Lamiaceae Lindl. (=Labiatae) (The Mint Family)
36 species from the Lamiaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Balm, Lemon Balm

Maltese name(s) :

Nagħniegħ in-naħal, Buriħa, Melissa

Status for Malta :

Naturalised Alien. Species that was introduced in Malta after year 1492 (Columbus' discovery of the New World) and spreads and integrates to form established, non-invasive populations. Species may become become invasive if it widespreads rapidly.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare     Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: CHAMEOPHYTE ( dwarf or small woody shrubs )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

May – July

Colour of Flowers:



Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

officinalis: Commercially or 'officially' used and sold in shops for medicinal or healing applications. This epithet was given in the past to plants with well-known medicinal properties. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Scrub and other shady places.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Botanical Description: Stems 20-150 cm, erect, branched, shortly glandular-puberulent, and with sparse or dense, long, patent, eglandular hairs, or glabrescent. Leaves 2-9 x 1.5-7 cm, broadly ovate to rhombic, obtuse or acute, more or less deeply crenate except at the base. Floral leaves crenate-serrate. Verticillasters 4- to 12-flowered. Bracteoles 2-5 mm, ovate to linear, entire. Calyx 7-9 mm, with long, patent, eglandular and short glandular hairs; teeth of lower lip lanceolate-triangular. Corolla 8-15 mm, pale yellow, becoming white or pinkish. Nutlets 1.5-2 mm.
Distributional range: S. Europe widely cultivated for its aromatic foliage and naturalized northwards to England, Sweden and C. Russia.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Doubtful inAlbania, B Bulgaria, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Romania, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta, Introduced in  Austria and Liechtenstein, the Azores, Belgium, Britain (excl. Northern Ireland and Channel islands), Czeck Republic and Slovakia, Denmark, Germany, H L Switzerland, Portugal, Poland, Russia and former USSR, Sweden, Doubtful in Turkey (European part)
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
AE(G) Al Bl Bu Co Cr Cy Gr Hs It Ju LS Lu Rf(CS) Sa Si Tcs Tu(A E) [Au Az Be Br Ca Cz Da Ga Ge Hb He Ho Hu Ma Md Po Rf(S) Rm Su Uk(K U)]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (8 images)
   Melissa officinalis   -   Image Code: MLSOF-0.
   Melissa officinalis   -   Image Code: MLSOF-1.
   Melissa officinalis   -   Image Code: MLSOF-2.
   Melissa officinalis   -   Image Code: MLSOF-3.
   Melissa officinalis   -   Image Code: MLSOF-4.
   Melissa officinalis   -   Image Code: MLSOF-5.
   Melissa officinalis   -   Image Code: MLSOF-6.
   Melissa officinalis   -   Image Code: MLSOF-7.

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