Cymbopogon citratus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Panicoideae
Tribe: Andropogoneae
Subtribe: Andropogoninae
Genus: Cymbopogon
Type species
Cymbopogon schoenanthus
(L.) Spreng.[2]
  • Andropogon sect. Cymbopogon (Spreng.) Steud.
  • Andropogon subg. Cymbopogon (Spreng.) Nees
  • Gymnanthelia Andersson

Cymbopogon, better known as lemongrass (UK: /ˈlɛmənˌɡrɑːs/; US: /ˈlɛmənˌɡræs/), is a genus of Asian, African, Australian, and tropical island plants in the grass family.[5][6][7][8]

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 cuisines 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.[9] Despite its ability to repel some insects, such as mosquitoes, 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."[10]

C. citratus from the Philippines, where it is locally known as tanglad

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)[11] in insect sprays and candles, and in aromatherapy, which is famous in Bintan Island, Indonesia, and the Philippines.[12] 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.[13]

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, 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. 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,[14] but a study in humans found no effect.[15] The tea caused a recurrence of contact dermatitis in one case.[16]

Lemon grass is also used as an addition to tea, and in preparations such as kadha, which is a traditional herbal brew 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.[17]


  1. Cymbopogon ambiguus Australian lemon-scented grass - Australia, Timor
  2. Cymbopogon annamensis - Yunnan, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand
  3. Cymbopogon bhutanicus - Bhutan
  4. Cymbopogon bombycinus silky oilgrass - Australia
  5. Cymbopogon caesius - Sub-Saharan Africa, Indian Subcontinent, Yemen, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Comoros, Réunion
  6. Cymbopogon calcicola - Thailand, Kedah
  7. Cymbopogon calciphilus - Thailand
  8. Cymbopogon cambogiensis - Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam
  9. Cymbopogon citratus lemon grass (Chinese: 香茅草; pinyin: xiāng máo căo) - Sri Lanka, northeast and southern India, Southeast Asia
  10. Cymbopogon clandestinus - Thailand, Myanmar, Andaman Islands
  11. Cymbopogon coloratus - Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Myanmar, Vietnam
  12. Cymbopogon commutatus - Sahel, East Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan
  13. Cymbopogon densiflorus - central + south-central Africa
  14. Cymbopogon dependens - Australia
  15. Cymbopogon dieterlenii - Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa
  16. Cymbopogon distans - Gansu, Guizhou, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Tibet, Yunnan, Nepal, northern Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir
  17. Cymbopogon exsertus - Nepal, Assam
  18. Cymbopogon flexuosus East Indian lemon grass - Indian Subcontinent, Indochina
  19. Cymbopogon gidarba - Indian Subcontinent, Myanmar, Yunnan
  20. Cymbopogon giganteus - Africa, Madagascar
  21. Cymbopogon globosus - Maluku, New Guinea, Queensland
  22. Cymbopogon goeringii - China incl Taiwan, Korea, Japan incl Ryukyu Islands, Vietnam
  23. Cymbopogon gratus - Queensland
  24. Cymbopogon jwarancusa - Socotra, Turkey, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Indian Subcontinent, Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Vietnam
  25. Cymbopogon khasianus - Yunnan, Guangxi, Assam, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand
  26. Cymbopogon liangshanensis - Sichuan
  27. Cymbopogon mandalaiaensis - Myanmar
  28. Cymbopogon marginatus - Cape Province of South Africa
  29. Cymbopogon martini palmarosa - Indian Subcontinent, Myanmar, Vietnam
  30. Cymbopogon mekongensis - China, Indochina
  31. Cymbopogon microstachys Indian Subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Yunnan
  32. Cymbopogon microthecus - Nepal, Bhutan, Assam, West Bengal, Bangladesh
  33. Cymbopogon minor - Yunnan
  34. Cymbopogon minutiflorus - Sulawesi
  35. Cymbopogon nardus citronella grass (In Thai language ตะไคร้หอม (ta-khrai hom) - Indian Subcontinent, Indochina, central + southern Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles
  36. Cymbopogon nervatus - Myanmar, Thailand, central Africa
  37. Cymbopogon obtectus Silky-heads - Australia
  38. Cymbopogon osmastonii - India, Bangladesh
  39. Cymbopogon pendulus - Yunnan, eastern Himalayas, Myanmar, Vietnam
  40. Cymbopogon polyneuros - Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Myanmar
  41. Cymbopogon pospischilii - eastern + southern Africa, Oman, Yemen, Himalayas, Tibet, Yunnan
  42. Cymbopogon procerus - Australia, New Guinea, Maluku, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi
  43. Cymbopogon pruinosus - islands of Indian Ocean
  44. Cymbopogon queenslandicus - Queensland
  45. Cymbopogon quinhonensis - Vietnam
  46. Cymbopogon rectus - Lesser Sunda Islands, Java
  47. Cymbopogon refractus barbed wire grass - Australia incl Norfolk Island
  48. Cymbopogon schoenanthus camel hay or camel grass - Sahara, Sahel, eastern Africa, Arabian Peninsular, Iran
  49. Cymbopogon tortilis - China incl Taiwan, Ryukyu + Bonin Is, Philippines, Vietnam, Maluku
  50. Cymbopogon tungmaiensis - Sichuan, Tibet, Yunnan
  51. Cymbopogon winterianus citronella grass - Borneo, Java, Sumatra
  52. Cymbopogon xichangensis - Sichuan
Formerly included[3]

Numerous species now regarded as better suited to other genera including Andropogon, Exotheca, Hyparrhenia, Iseilema, Schizachyrium, and Themeda.


  1. Sprengel, Curt (Kurt, Curtius) Polycarp Joachim 1815. Plantarum Minus Cognitarum Pugillus 2: 14
  2. lectotype designated by N.L. Britton & P. Wilson, Bot. Porto Rico 1: 27 (1923)
  3. 1 2 3 Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  4. Tropicos, Cymbopogon Spreng.
  5. Soenarko, S. 1977. The genus Cymbopogon Sprengel (Gramineae). Reinwardtia 9(3): 225–375
  6. Flora of China Vol. 22 Page 624 香茅属 xiang mao shu Cymbopogon Sprengel, Pl. Min. Cogn. Pug. 2: 14. 1815.
  7. Atlas of Living Australia, Cymbopogon Spreng., Lemon Grass
  8. Bor, N. L. 1960. Grass. Burma, Ceylon, India & Pakistan i–767. Pergamon Press, Oxford
  9. Shadab, Q., Hanif, M. & Chaudhary, F.M. (1992) Antifungal activity by lemongrass essential oils. Pak. J. Sci. Ind. Res. 35, 246-249.
  10. Wikibooks:Beekeeping/Guide to Essential Oils
  11. Edmon Agron. "Lemon grass as mosquito repellent - WorldNgayon® | WorldNgayon®". Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  12. Philippines
  13. Takeguma, Massahiro. "Gowing Citronella". Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Bleasel N, Tate B, Rademaker M (August 2002). "Allergic contact dermatitis following exposure to essential oils". Australas. J. Dermatol. 43 (3): 211–3. doi:10.1046/j.1440-0960.2002.00598.x. PMID 12121401.
  17. "Lemongrass Health Benefits And Healing Properties | Ayurvedic Wellness & Lifestyle". 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
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