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Any of several fragrant herbs of the mint family, particularly Melissa officinalis (balm gentle, or lemon balm), cultivated in temperate climates for its fragrant leaves, which are used as a scent in perfumes and as a flavouring. The name is also applied to Melittis melissophyllum (bastard balm), Monarda didyma (bergamot, or bee balm), Collinsonia canadensis (horse balm), Glecoma hederacea and Satureja (Calamintha) nepeta (field balm), and Molucella laevis (Molucca balm, or bells of Ireland), as well as to aromatic substances from species of Commiphora (trees and shrubs of the incense-tree family).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on balm, visit Britannica.com.