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Useful Tropical Plants

Cymbopogon citratus

(DC. Ex Nees) Stapf

Poaceae

+ Synonyms

Andropogon cerifer Hack.

Andropogon ceriferus Hack.

Andropogon citratus DC.

Andropogon citratus DC. ex Nees

Andropogon citriodorus Desf.

Andropogon nardus ceriferus (Hack.) Hack.

Andropogon roxburghii Nees ex Steud.

Common Name: Lemon Grass

Cymbopogon citratus
Small, recently planted clump, showing the stem bases
Photograph by: Forest and Kim Starr
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
Cymbopogon citratus Cymbopogon citratus Cymbopogon citratus Cymbopogon citratus Cymbopogon citratus

General Information

Lemongrass is an aromatic, evergreen, clump-forming, perennial grass producing numerous stiff stems arising from a short rhizomatous rootstock, and growing around 1.5 metres tall[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The plant is widely cultivated in the tropics, both on a commercial scale and in gardens - especially in southeast Asia. It is used as a food flavouring, especially for Asian cuisine; as a medicinal herb; the source of an essential oil; and as a soil improver and stabilizer[
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.
].

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

A tropical plant, not known in the wild, but probably originating in Sri Lanka or Malaysia.

Habitat

Not known in a wild situation.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height1.50 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated

Cultivation Details

A plant of the tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,400 metre, though it grows best below 500 metres[
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.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 30°c, but can tolerate 18 - 34°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It can be killed by temperatures of 10°c or lower[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 4,200mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Prefers a moisture-retentive soil 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.
]. Requires a well-drained soil - commercial plantations often favour sandy soils, although good growth has also been observed in Australia on a clay soil with pH 9.6 and in Sarawak on an acid peat soil[310. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 5.8, tolerating 4.3 - 7.3[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The plant tillers strongly and the number of tillers is directly correlated with the number of leaves and with oil yield. Only young, expanding leaves synthesize and accumulate essential oil[
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.
].
Harvesting begins when the crop is 120 - 240 days old, and the plant is subsequently harvested every 90 - 120 days[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The plant has an economical life of 4 - 6 years[
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.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The average annual foliage yield is 30 - 50 tonnes per hectare, yielding 75 - 250 kg lemongrass oil (0.25 - 0.50%)[
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.
].
Foliage yield of 100 tonnes per hectare has been achieved under optimum circumstances, and with efficient management and improved selections the oil yield can be increased to 0.4 - 0.6%[
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.
].
Harvesting the top parts gives an oil yield of 0.6%, while the lower parts yield only 0.15%[
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.
].
Fresh grass yields 0.2 - 0.4% oil, with an average yield of 50 - 120 kilos of oil/ha per annum. Yield of foliage is higher on fertile heavy soils, but under these conditions the oil usually has a lower citral content[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]
The plant seldom flowers[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Lemongrass should be stored separately from other foods, or should be well wrapped, otherwise its strong scent will taint the other foods[
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.
].

Edible Uses

The heart of the young shoots is eaten as a vegetable with rice[
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.
].
The basal portions of the leafy shoots have a delicious lemon-like aroma and are used as a flavouring in soups, sauces and curries[
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.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Particularly popular in southeast Asia, they are added to spicy sauces such as 'sambal goreng' and 'sambal petis' and to cooked fish and fish sauces[
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.
].
Older leaves can be cooked with other foods in order to impart their lemon-like flavour. They are removed before serving[
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.
].
A refreshing tea can be brewed from the leaves[
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.
]. It can be served hot or cold[
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.
]. It can be sweetened with sugar[
521
Title
Useful Plants of the Siona and Secoya Indians of Eastern Ecuador.
Publication
Fieldiana Botany New Series No. 15
Author
Vickers W.T.; Plowman T.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; USA.
Year
1984
ISBN
0015 - 0746
Description
Very terse, but it gives the uses of a large number of species. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

The essential oil is used as a flavouring in the food industry in soft drinks and various foods[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Medicinal

Lemon grass is a bitter, aromatic, cooling herb that increases perspiration and relieves spasms[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The essential oil obtained from the plant is an effective antifungal and antibacterial[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The essential oil contains about 70% citral, plus citronellal - both of these are markedly sedative[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].
Internally, the plant is used principally as a tea in the treatment of digestive problems, where it relaxes the muscles of the stomach and gut, relieving cramping pains and flatulence[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. It is particularly useful for children, for whom it is also used to treat minor feverish illnesses[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].
Externally, especially in the form of the extracted essential oil, the plant is a very effective treatment for a range of skin conditions including athlete's foot, ringworm, lice and scabies[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It is also applied to ease the pain of arthritic joints[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

A good soil conditioner in worn out land. The plants quickly produce a bulk of organic material which soon rots down, attracting worms and other beneficial creatures and quickly enriching the soil[
296
Title
Tropical Food Gardens
Publication
 
Author
Norrington. L.
Publisher
Bloomings Books (Melbourne)
Year
2001
ISBN
1-876473-41-x
Description
Excellent little book giving some basic information on a range of plants.
].
A row of lemongrass plants can be used as a divider in the garden - it can help to contain more invasive plants such as sweet potato, and also as a barrier to prevent weeds growing into the garden[
296
Title
Tropical Food Gardens
Publication
 
Author
Norrington. L.
Publisher
Bloomings Books (Melbourne)
Year
2001
ISBN
1-876473-41-x
Description
Excellent little book giving some basic information on a range of plants.
].
The grass is useful for soil improvement and erosion control[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Other Uses

An essential oil obtained from the plant is used in perfumery, scenting soaps, hair oils, cosmetics and as an insect repellent[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The oil consistis mainly of citral and is an important starting material in the perfumery industry for the production of 'ALPHA'- and 'BETA'-ionones, which in low concentrations have the odour of violets[
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 also used in the synthesis of vitamin A[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

The fresh leaves, crushed in water, are used as a hair wash and toilet water[
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 used for cellulose and paper production[
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.
].

Propagation

Seed - not often produced.
Division of established clumps. This is best done annually or they can become too crowded and suffer, commercially the plant is divided every 4 - 6 years. The size of offshoots used depends on local preference; larger shoots normally root quicker and grow faster. The offshoots are cut back to 10 - 15 cm, trimmed of dead and excess roots and then planted either direct or into nursery beds[
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.
]..

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