Moldavian Dragonhead Balm (Dracocephalum moldavica)
One of my favorite things to do is to grow herbs for tea. I grow hundreds of plants every summer at my garden plots and spend the summer drying them. I dry enough to make tea for all of my own family and friends for the whole winter. And more. Much more. While there are so many varieties of seeds to grow out there available to all of us gardeners, there are certain (wonderful) herbs that I rarely see included in gardening articles. So I think over the next few weeks I am going to feature a few of my favorite underappreciated herbs/plants/veggies/fruit to grow.
One of my favorite tea herbs is Moldavian Dragonhead Balm. Dracocephalum moldavica has been cultivated as an herb for centuries. It is an introduced plant in the US and can be found wild in many states. It is the Lamiaceae family and shares the mint characteristics - it is easy to grow, flowers all summer, prolific to self seed, and makes a great tea. It is also loved by pollinators.
Moldavian Dragonhead is a self seeding annual, and is hardy in zones 3a-7b. It gets about 1 foot high or so and about the same width, and has blue and purple blooms that look like little dragonheads - with fangs. It grows quickly so it is often one of the first flowering herbs of the summer.
I love how the bees are drawn to it, it flowers on and on all summer, and how the blooms are vivid and beautiful. It is a nice addition to landscaping and is easy to harvest frequently throughout the summer. It doesn’t need a lot of special care and grows happily in most soils and in full sun to part shade. It does better when kept moist, but it is OK drying out in between waterings if it must.
Historically it was used as an astringent, tonic and vulnerary. This plants smells and tastes similar to lemon balm but keeps its aromatic fragrance even when dried (which lemon balm does not do as well). It adds a fresh aromatic bright lemony flavor to blended herbal teas. And it makes a wonderful iced tea.
To harvest, I wait until the flowers have bloomed up most of the stem and start harvesting by cutting the top 5-6” or so off of each flowering stem.
I leave the flowers and leaves on the stem to dry in my dehydrator, and once dried I carefully remove from the stems and store in an airtight container until I blend into tea.
This can be used in culinary recipes - as a substitute for lemon balm. But I really love it for tea - I have used it in my tea blends for almost 10 years now and I have never had a summer without it!
Henriette's Herbal - Moldavian Dragonhead Balm & Lemony Tea Herbs
US National Plant Germplasm System
Strictly Medicinal - Moldavian Balm
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, permaculture designer, health justice activist, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.