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Useful Tropical Plants

Backhousia citriodora

F.Muell.

Myrtaceae

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Lemon Myrtle

Backhousia citriodora
Flowering plant
Photograph by: Fagg, M.
Image credit to Australian National Botanic Gardens
Backhousia citriodora Backhousia citriodora Backhousia citriodora Backhousia citriodora Backhousia citriodora Backhousia citriodora Backhousia citriodora

General Information

Lemon myrtle is a relatively slow-growing, aromatic, evergreen tall shrub or small tree, sometimes growing up to 20 metres tall in the wild, though usually smaller and rarely above 5 metres in cultivation[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
]. The plant usually branches from quite low down the bole[
343
Title
Growing Native Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of articles giving details of cultivation and matters of general interest (including a few plant uses) on over 250 Australian plants.
].
The plant is often used as a flavouring and to make a refreshing tea - it has become widely used in the gourmet bushfood industry[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The leaves are also valued for their essential oil content and are gathered from the wild. Some commercial cultivation also takes place[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The plant is also grown as an ornamental[
440
Title
Brisbane Rainforest Action and Information Network,
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.brisrain.webcentral.com.au
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Information on plants in the Queensland Rainforests.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Northern Australia - Queensland.

Habitat

Coastal notophyll vine forest[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Coastal forests and rainforests[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height5.00 m
Growth RateSlow
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the subtropical to tropical zones, it is able to succeed in frost-free temperate regions[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. Mature plants can tolerate some frost, with records of plants tolerating occasional short-lived lows down to -8°c, but younger plants require protection[
343
Title
Growing Native Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of articles giving details of cultivation and matters of general interest (including a few plant uses) on over 250 Australian plants.
,
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
]. Plants grow naturally in areas with 800mm or more rainfall per year[
681
Title
Australian Native Food Industry Limited
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anfil.org.au/index.php/flavour-of-the-month/
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Information on a small number of Australian plants believed to have the potential for commercial growth.
].
Prefers a moist but well-drained fertile soil and a position in full sun[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. A hardy plant, it tolerates all but the poorest drained soils[
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
]. Requires a circumneutral soil and are prone to yellowing in alkaline conditions[
681
Title
Australian Native Food Industry Limited
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anfil.org.au/index.php/flavour-of-the-month/
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Information on a small number of Australian plants believed to have the potential for commercial growth.
]. Established plants are fairly drought tolerant[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
]. Plants require protection from strong winds since they can easily snap off at the base of the trunk[
681
Title
Australian Native Food Industry Limited
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anfil.org.au/index.php/flavour-of-the-month/
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Information on a small number of Australian plants believed to have the potential for commercial growth.
].
Plants commence flowering when quite young[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
].
When crushed, the leaves emit a very strong aroma which would rival any member of the citrus family[
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
].
Plants are generally slow-growing[
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
].

Edible Uses

The fresh and dried leaves, flowers and seeds have an intense, extremely pleasant flavour reminiscent of lemon verbena (Alloysia triphylla)[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. They are used as a flavouring herb in various foods[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

A pleasant, lemon-flavoured tea can be made from the leaves and flowering stems[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Medicinal

The essential oil obtained from the leaves possesses anti-microbial activity[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Other Uses

The leaves contain an essential oil that contains more than 90% citral[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It is used in perfumes and soaps and as a flavouring[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The oil resembles lemongrass oil, but is said to be of a better quality (e.g. lacking grassy-fatty or harsh notes) and of higher yield[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
This species is known to have at least two chemical forms, with their respective aromatic essential oils (which give the aroma and flavour) being richer either in citral or its close chemical relative citronellal[
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
]. The citral form seems to be much commoner, and this form is the one selected and grown for its sweet lemon-type perfume and flavour[
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
].

The light pink colourd wood is fine-grained, very hard and heavy. It is likely to be useful for ornamental purposes[
307
Title
Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Barwick. M.
Publisher
Thames & Hudson, London
Year
2004
ISBN
0-500-51181-0
Description
A superb book, very concise and well written, giving a wealth of information on 400 or more species including descriptions, habitat, cultivation details and plant uses. A wealth of colour photographs bring each plant vividly to life.
,
601
Title
The Useful Native Plants of Australia.
Publication
 
Author
Maiden J.H.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Turner & Co.; London.
Year
1889
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of the uses of many Australian plants and other species naturalised, or at least growing, in Australia. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Propagation

Seed - it is difficult to germinate[
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
]. Surface sow onto a moist medium, standing the seed tray in almost half its depth of clean water and maintain a temperature around 16 - 18c[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Seedlings take about 12 months to develop fully. When seedlings are about 5mm tall, remove the tray from the water, leave for 4 - 5 days and then prick the seedlings out into individual containers[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Cuttings of semi-ripe wood with a heel[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Slow to make roots[
397
Title
Australian Native Plants Society
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://anpsa.org.au/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of fact sheets on Australian plants. Good photographs, brief description and information on uses, habitat, range, cultivation etc.
].
Small lower branches often touch the ground and form roots. These can be severed from the parent plant, and planted elsewhere[
343
Title
Growing Native Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of articles giving details of cultivation and matters of general interest (including a few plant uses) on over 250 Australian plants.
].

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