Cymbopogon citratus

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Lemon grass 2892 rbgs11jan.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Cymbopogon
C. citratus
Binomial name
Cymbopogon citratus
(DC.) Stapf,[1] 1906

Cymbopogon citratus, commonly known as West Indian lemon grass or simply lemon grass,[3] is a tropical plant native to Maritime Southeast Asia and introduced to many tropical regions.[4]

Cymbopogon citratus is often sold in stem form. While it can be grown in warmer temperate regions, such as the UK, it is not hardy to frost.


Cymbopogon citratus is native to Island Southeast Asia (Malesia). It has been introduced extensively to South Asia since precolonial times. After the World War I, lemongrass was introduced to Madagascar, South America, and Central America. It has now been naturalized throughout the tropics and subtropics worldwide.[5]

In its native range, Cymbopogon citratus is known as sereh, serai, or serai dapur in Indonesia and Malaysia; and tanglad, salai, or balioko in the Philippines.[5]

Culinary uses[edit]

Knots of C. citratus leaves sold at a supermarket in the Philippines

Cymbopogon citratus is abundant in the Philippines and Indonesia where it is known as tanglad or sereh. Its fragrant leaves are traditionally used in cooking, particularly for lechon and roasted chicken.[6]

The dried leaves can also be brewed into a tea, either alone or as a flavoring in other teas, imparting a flavor reminiscent of lemon juice but with a mild sweetness without significant sourness or tartness.

Medicinal uses[edit]

The leaves of Cymbopogon citratus have been used in traditional medicine and are often found in herbal supplements and teas.

In the folk medicine of the Krahô people of Brazil, it is believed to have anxiolytic, hypnotic, and anticonvulsant properties.[7][8]

In traditional medicine of India the leaves of the plant are used as stimulant, sudorific, antiperiodic, and anticatarrhal, while the essential oil is used as carminative, depressant, analgesic, antipyretic, antibacterial, and antifungal agent.

Laboratory studies have shown cytoprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro,[9][10][11] as well as antifungal properties[12] (though Cymbopogon martinii was found to be more effective in that study).

Citronellol is an essential oil constituent from Cymbopogon citratus, Cymbopogon winterianus, and Lippia alba. Citronellol has been shown to lower blood pressure in rats by a direct effect on the vascular smooth muscle leading to vasodilation.[13] In a small, randomized, controlled trial, an infusion made from C. citratus was used as an inexpensive remedy for the treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients.[14]

Lemon grass oil contains 65-85% citral in addition to myrcene, citronella, citronellol, and geraniol.[15] Hydrosteam distillation, condensation, and cooling can be used to separate the oil from the water. The hydrosol, as a by-product of the distillation process, is used for the production of skin care products such as lotions, creams, and facial cleansers. The main ingredients in these products are lemon grass oil and "negros oil" (mixture of lemon grass oil with virgin coconut oil) used in aromatherapy.[16]

Effect on insects[edit]

Video tracking of a stable fly, demonstrating repellency of lemongrass oil [17]

Beekeepers sometimes use lemon grass oil in swarm traps to attract swarms. Lemon grass oil has also been tested for its ability to repel the pestilent stable fly,[17] which bite domestic animals.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cymbopogon citratus". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2008-03-02.
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  3. ^ "Cymbopogon citratus". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  4. ^ "Cymbopogon citratus". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Oyen, L.P.A. "Cymbopogon citratus (PROSEA)". Pl@ntUse. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Tanglad / Lemongrass". Market Manila. August 21, 2006. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  7. ^ Blanco MM, Costa CA, Freire AO, Santos JG, Costa M (March 2009). "Neurobehavioral effect of essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus in mice". Phytomedicine. 16 (2–3): 265–70. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2007.04.007. PMID 17561386.
  8. ^ Rodrigues, Eliana & Carlini, E.A. (2006): Plants with possible psychoactive effects used by the Krahô Indians, Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria 28(4): 277-282. PDF fulltext
  9. ^ Figueirinha A. Cruz MT. Francisco V. Lopes MC. Batista MT. (2010). "Anti-inflammatory activity of Cymbopogon citratus leaf infusion in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated dendritic cells: contribution of the polyphenols". Journal of Medicinal Food. 13 (3): 681–690. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.0115. PMID 20438326.
  10. ^ Lee HJ. Jeong HS. Kim DJ. Noh YH. Yuk DY. Hong JT. (2008). "Inhibitory effect of citral on NO production by suppression of iNOS expression and NF-kappa B activation in RAW264.7 cells". Archives of Pharmacal Research. 31 (3): 342–349. doi:10.1007/s12272-001-1162-0. PMID 18409048.
  11. ^ Tiwari M, Dwivedi UN, Kakkar P (2010). "Suppression of oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory mediators by Cymbopogon citratus D. Stapf extract in lipopolysaccharide stimulated murine alveolar macrophages". Food Chem. Toxicol. 48 (10): 2913–2919. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.07.027. PMID 20655974.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  12. ^ Sunita Bansod; Mahendra Rai (2008). "Antifungal Activity of Essential Oils from Indian Medicinal Plants Against Human Pathogenic Aspergillus fumigatus and A. niger" (PDF). World Journal of Medical Sciences. 48 (10): 81–88. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.07.027. PMID 20655974. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  13. ^ Bastos JF. Moreira IJ. Ribeiro TP. Medeiros IA. Antoniolli AR. De Sousa DP. Santos MR. (2010). "Hypotensive and vasorelaxant effects of citronellol, a monoterpene alcohol, in rats". Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. 106 (4): 331–337. doi:10.1111/j.1742-7843.2009.00492.x. PMID 20002067.
  14. ^ Wright SC. Maree JE. Sibanyoni M. (2009). "Treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients with lemon juice and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) and gentian violet". Phytomedicine. 16 (2–3): 118–124. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2008.07.015. PMID 19109001.
  15. ^ Baby P. Skaria; P.P. Joy; Samuel Mathew; Gracy Mathew; Ancy Joseph; Ragina Joseph (2007). Aromatic Plants. 1. New Delhi, India: New India Publishing Agency. p. 103. ISBN 9788189422455.
  16. ^, ‘Tanglad’ goes mainstream, yields essential oils Archived 2008-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ a b Baldacchino, Frédéric; Tramut, Coline; Salem, Ali; Liénard, Emmanuel; Delétré, Emilie; Franc, Michel; Martin, Thibaud; Duvallet, Gérard; Jay-Robert, Pierre (2013). "The repellency of lemongrass oil against stable flies, tested using video tracking". Parasite. 20: 21. doi:10.1051/parasite/2013021. ISSN 1776-1042. PMC 3718533. PMID 23759542.

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