Some species (particularly Cymbopogon citratus), are commonly cultivated as culinary and medicinal herbs because of their scent, resembling that of lemons (Citrus limon). Common names include lemon grass, lemongrass, barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass, cha de Dartigalongue, fever grass, tanglad, hierba Luisa, or gavati chaha, amongst many others.
Lemongrass is widely used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisine and also as medicinal herb in India. It has a subtle citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. It is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It is also suitable for use with poultry, fish, beef, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African countries such as Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Latin American countries such as Mexico. Lemongrass oil is used as a pesticide and a preservative. Research shows that lemongrass oil has antifungal properties. Despite its ability to repel insects, its oil is commonly used as a "lure" to attract honey bees. "Lemongrass works conveniently as well as the pheromone created by the honeybee's Nasonov gland, also known as attractant pheromones. Because of this, lemongrass oil can be used as a lure when trapping swarms or attempting to draw the attention of hived bees."
Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus) grow to about 2 m (6.6 ft) and have magenta-colored base stems. These species are used for the production of citronella oil, which is used in soaps, as an insect repellent (especially mosquitoes) in insect sprays and candles, and in aromatherapy, which is famous in Bintan Island, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Therefore, its origin is assumed to be Indonesia. The principal chemical constituents of citronella, geraniol and citronellol, are antiseptics, hence their use in household disinfectants and soaps. Besides oil production, citronella grass is also used for culinary purposes, as a flavoring.
Citronella is usually planted in home gardens to ward off insects such as whitefly adults. Its cultivation enables growing some vegetables (e.g. tomatoes and broccoli) without applying pesticides. Intercropping should include physical barriers, for citronella roots can take over the field.
Lemongrass oil, used as a pesticide and preservative, is put on the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts found in India as a preservative. It is used at the Oriental Research Institute Mysore, the French Institute of Pondicherry, the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage in Kerala, and many other manuscript collections in India. The oil also injects natural fluidity into the brittle palm leaves, and the hydrophobic nature of the oil keeps the manuscripts dry so the text is not lost to decay due to humidity.
East Indian lemon grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), also called Cochin grass or Malabar grass (Malayalam: (inchippullu), is native to Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand, while West Indian lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is native to South Asia and maritime Southeast Asia. It is known as serai in Malaysia and Brunei, serai or sereh in Indonesia, and salai or tanglad in the Philippines. While both can be used interchangeably, C. citratus is more suitable for cooking. In India, C. citratus is used both as a medical herb and in perfumes. C. citratus is consumed as a tea for anxiety in Brazilian folk medicine, but a study in humans found no effect. The tea caused a recurrence of contact dermatitis in one case.
Lemon grass is also known as gavati chaha (गवती चहा) in the Marathi language (gavat = grass; chaha = tea), and is used as an addition to tea, and in preparations such as kadha, which is a traditional herbal 'soup' used against coughs, colds, etc. It has medicinal properties and is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine. It is supposed to help with relieving cough and nasal congestion.
- Cymbopogon ambiguus Australian lemon-scented grass - Australia, Timor
- Cymbopogon annamensis - Yunnan, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand
- Cymbopogon bhutanicus - Bhutan
- Cymbopogon bombycinus silky oilgrass - Australia
- Cymbopogon caesius - Sub-Saharan Africa, Indian Subcontinent, Yemen, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Comoros, Réunion
- Cymbopogon calcicola - Thailand, Kedah
- Cymbopogon calciphilus - Thailand
- Cymbopogon cambogiensis - Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam
- Cymbopogon citratus lemon grass (Chinese: 香茅草; pinyin: xiāng máo căo) - Sri Lanka, northeast and southern India, Southeast Asia
- Cymbopogon clandestinus - Thailand, Myanmar, Andaman Islands
- Cymbopogon coloratus - Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Myanmar, Vietnam
- Cymbopogon commutatus - Sahel, East Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan
- Cymbopogon densiflorus - central + south-central Africa
- Cymbopogon dependens - Australia
- Cymbopogon dieterlenii - Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa
- Cymbopogon distans - Gansu, Guizhou, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Tibet, Yunnan, Nepal, northern Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir
- Cymbopogon exsertus - Nepal, Assam
- Cymbopogon flexuosus East Indian lemon grass - Indian Subcontinent, Indochina
- Cymbopogon gidarba - Indian Subcontinent, Myanmar, Yunnan
- Cymbopogon giganteus - Africa, Madagascar
- Cymbopogon globosus - Maluku, New Guinea, Queensland
- Cymbopogon goeringii - China incl Taiwan, Korea, Japan incl Ryukyu Islands, Vietnam
- Cymbopogon gratus - Queensland
- Cymbopogon jwarancusa - Socotra, Turkey, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Indian Subcontinent, Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Vietnam
- Cymbopogon khasianus - Yunnan, Guangxi, Assam, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand
- Cymbopogon liangshanensis - Sichuan
- Cymbopogon mandalaiaensis - Myanmar
- Cymbopogon marginatus - Cape Province of South Africa
- Cymbopogon martini palmarosa - Indian Subcontinent, Myanmar, Vietnam
- Cymbopogon mekongensis - China, Indochina
- Cymbopogon microstachys Indian Subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Yunnan
- Cymbopogon microthecus - Nepal, Bhutan, Assam, West Bengal, Bangladesh
- Cymbopogon minor - Yunnan
- Cymbopogon minutiflorus - Sulawesi
- Cymbopogon nardus citronella grass (In Thai language ตะไคร้หอม (ta-khrai hom) - Indian Subcontinent, Indochina, central + southern Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles
- Cymbopogon nervatus - Myanmar, Thailand, central Africa
- Cymbopogon obtectus Silky-heads - Australia
- Cymbopogon osmastonii - India, Bangladesh
- Cymbopogon pendulus - Yunnan, eastern Himalayas, Myanmar, Vietnam
- Cymbopogon polyneuros - Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Myanmar
- Cymbopogon pospischilii - eastern + southern Africa, Oman, Yemen, Himalayas, Tibet, Yunnan
- Cymbopogon procerus - Australia, New Guinea, Maluku, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi
- Cymbopogon pruinosus - islands of Indian Ocean
- Cymbopogon queenslandicus - Queensland
- Cymbopogon quinhonensis - Vietnam
- Cymbopogon rectus - Lesser Sunda Islands, Java
- Cymbopogon refractus barbed wire grass - Australia incl Norfolk Island
- Cymbopogon schoenanthus camel hay or camel grass - Sahara, Sahel, eastern Africa, Arabian Peninsular, Iran
- Cymbopogon tortilis - China incl Taiwan, Ryukyu + Bonin Is, Philippines, Vietnam, Maluku
- Cymbopogon tungmaiensis - Sichuan, Tibet, Yunnan
- Cymbopogon winterianus citronella grass - Borneo, Java, Sumatra
- Cymbopogon xichangensis - Sichuan
- formerly included
- Sprengel, Curt (Kurt, Curtius) Polycarp Joachim 1815. Plantarum Minus Cognitarum Pugillus 2: 14
- lectotype designated by N.L. Britton & P. Wilson, Bot. Porto Rico 1: 27 (1923)
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Tropicos, Cymbopogon Spreng.
- Soenarko, S. 1977. The genus Cymbopogon Sprengel (Gramineae). Reinwardtia 9(3): 225–375
- Flora of China Vol. 22 Page 624 香茅属 xiang mao shu Cymbopogon Sprengel, Pl. Min. Cogn. Pug. 2: 14. 1815.
- Atlas of Living Australia, Cymbopogon Spreng., Lemon Grass
- Bor, N. L. 1960. Grass. Burma, Ceylon, India & Pakistan i–767. Pergamon Press, Oxford
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- Leite JR, Seabra Mde L, Maluf E et al. (July 1986). "Pharmacology of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus Stapf). III. Assessment of eventual toxic, hypnotic and anxiolytic effects on humans". J Ethnopharmacol 17 (1): 75–83. doi:10.1016/0378-8741(86)90074-7. PMID 2429120.
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