Elsholtzia ciliata, commonly known as Vietnamese balm, xiang ru (香薷) or kinh giới in Vietnamese, is a plant native to Asia. In the US, it can go by the name Crested Late Summer Mint. In US Vietnamese grocery stores, it is called Kinh Gioi, Vietnamese Lemon Balm, or Vietnamese Lemon Mint.
The plant is native to Asia. However, the exact extent of its original range is unclear.
Today it is found through much of India, eastern Asia, and Europe. It grows throughout Nepal at elevations of 1500 to 3400 m.
Elsholtzia ciliata is an erect herb that grows to about 60 cm in height. The leaves are long, stalked, and serrated, and reach 2 to 8.5 cm in length and 8 to 2.5 cm in width. In shape, they are ovate to lanceolate, with a gland-dotted underside.
Flowers of a purple color bloom in flat spikes in September and October. Seeds propagate within them.
Elsholtzia ciliata has many cultural uses.
It is used in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is called rau kinh giới or lá kinh giới. The leaves are used to flavor meat dishes, soups, and salads with a lemony flavor.
The seeds are sometimes powdered and used for flavoring food.
It is used common in herbal medicine, as it is considered to be carminative and astringent. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is known as xiang ru (香薷) or aromatic madder and is used for stomach problems, to induce sweating, and also for halitosis.
It is cultivated as an ornamental plant. It prefers moist soil, and grows mostly on exposed rocky slopes and other open, gravelly areas. Propagated by both seeds and rhizomes.
It is banned in the state of Connecticut and classified as an noxious weed in 46 states. it was first reported in the Americas as a weed in 1889.