Verbena, The Sacred Herb

Heralding sunny days, refreshing swims and summer evenings, lemon verbena exhales its delicate lemony fragrance : the promise of an invigorating midsummer voyage. 

By Linda Mestaoui 

Considered as a miraculous plant in ancient times and used in magical rituals, lemon verbena was believed to heal all ills and drive away the evil eye. The Romans used it as a love potion, calling it the herb of Venus. Native to South America, lemon verbena is an aromatic plant from the Verbenaceae family. Odorless, Verbena officinalis is known for its digestive and anti-inflammatory properties. Delicately lemon flavored, scented verbena or lemon verbena exhales a stimulating perfume, and it is appreciated for its soothing and relaxing powers.

This little shrub that doesn’t like frost and that flowers there where life is good, around the Mediterranean, can reach 2 meters high in Corsica’s enchanting climate. It is particularly remarkable for its light-green foliage and its branches that terminate in pink and white flowers.
The harvest takes place between July to September. As an infusion of dry leaves immersed in boiling water and left to infuse for about ten minutes, verbena reveals itself to be both calming and sleep promoting. Ideal before bed, it makes an excellent natural sleeping pill.

Taken after meals, it aids digestion. But verbena also seduces gourmets when it features in ice creams and sorbets. In summer, on sunny village squares, Provencal ice-cream makers serve it in tangy and refreshing sorbets, lifted with a few notes of fresh mint. This year, the famous ice-cream maker Berthillon has also included it on its menu. Whatever the package, verbena will energize and revive your senses…

Verbena Harvest, Provence
Photography Sylvain Duffard

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