1. Family: Poaceae Barnhart
    1. Genus: Cymbopogon Spreng.
      1. Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf

        The culms (stems) of this dense, clump-forming grass have been used in cooking and herbal medicine for centuries. More recently, the aromatic oils of the plant have been extracted and exported for use in perfumes. Lemon grass is common and widespread within its natural range, and also occurs in cultivation.

    [KSP]
    General Description
    Lemon grass is a tall, Asian grass, long-known for its attractive scent and medicinal properties.

    The culms (stems) of this dense, clump-forming grass have been used in cooking and herbal medicine for centuries. More recently, the aromatic oils of the plant have been extracted and exported for use in perfumes. Lemon grass is common and widespread within its natural range, and also occurs in cultivation.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Lemon grass is native to Indonesia, and introduced and cultivated in most of the tropics, including Africa, South America and Indo-China.

    Description

    Overview:A tall, aromatic, perennial grass with culms (stems) to 2 m tall.

    Leaves: Linear, to 1 m long and 2 cm wide, tapering towards the sheath. They are smooth and hairless, white on the upper surface and green beneath. The ligules (appendage between the leaf sheaf and blade) are less than 2 mm long, and are rounded or truncate (ending abruptly as if cut off).

    Flowers: The inflorescence is a loose, nodding panicle, about 60 cm long and reddish to russet in colour. The pedicels (stalks of the spikelets) are tinged with purple.

    Threats and conservation

    There are no known direct threats to this species. It is widely distributed and populations are considered to be stable.

    Conservation assessments carried out at Kew

    Cymbopogon citratus is being monitored as part of the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants, which aims to produce conservation assessments for a representative sample of the world’s plant species. This information will then be used to monitor trends in extinction risk and help focus conservation efforts where they are needed most.

    Learn more about this project

    Uses

    The culms (stems) of lemon grass are widely used in teas and other beverages, herbal medicines, and to flavour southeast Asian cuisine, particularly fish stews and sauces.

    Lemon grass is also grown in pots indoors, to provide rooms with its ‘fresh’ fragrance.

    Cymbopogon citratus is closely related to C. nardus, the species of grass from which the insect-repellent citronella is derived. The oil extracted from lemon grass has also been used as an insect-repellent, as well as to perfume beauty products.

    Lemon grass is planted on bunds (embankments or dikes) in south and southeast Asia for soil conservation, and is excellent as a mulch.

    Lemon grass at Kew

    Lemon grass can be seen growing in the Waterlily House at Kew.

    Specimens of lemon grass, including dried leaves and oil, are held in Kew's Economic Botany Collection, and are available to researchers by appointment.

    Royal connections

    The Danish botanist Nathaniel Wallich reported in 1832 (in Plantae Asiaticae Rariores) that “Dr Maton, physician to Queen Charlotte, has repeatedly been treated with a dish of lemon grass tea by Her Majesty who used to be very fond of it and was supplied with the plant from the Royal Gardens at Kew.”

    Pivotal work on ‘oil-grasses’

    An extensive and much-needed revision of the systematics of the plants collectively known as ‘oil-grasses’ ( Cymbopogonspp., Chrysopogon(incl. Vetiveria) spp. and Andropogonspp.) was conducted by the Austrian botanist Otto Stapf whilst he was Principal Assistant in the Herbarium at Kew, and published in Kew Bulletin in 1906. Three years later he became Keeper of the Herbarium.

    Ecology
    Tropical grassland.
    Conservation
    Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    Lemon grass oil can cause contact dermatitis.

    [UPPd]
    Digestive System Disorders
    Diarrhea Unspecified parts - Insect management products from Malian tradicional medicine Se utiliza para aliviar el dolor de estómago, para esto se toma el cocimiento de las hojas. Leaves - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. El cocimiento de las hojas se toma contra el vómito. Leaves - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. El cocimiento de las hojas se toma en caso de diarrea. Leaves - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. El cocimiento de las hojas sirve como desinflamatorio estomacal. Leaves - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Genitourinary System Disorders
    Es utilizada para detener la hemorragia vaginal. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. Se utiliza en casos de retención de orina. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Pain
    Se utiliza para aliviar el dolor de cabeza. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Infections & Infestations
    Se utiliza para aliviar la calentura. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. Fever Unspecified parts - Insect management products from Malian tradicional medicine
    Respiratory System Disorders
    Se utiliza para aliviar la tos. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. Se utiliza para aliviar la gripe. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Mental Disorders
    Se utiliza para calmar los nervios. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Metabolic System Disorders
    Se utiliza para reducir el colesterol. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana.
    Blood System Disorders
    Se utiliza para reducir la presión. Unspecified plant parts - Biblioteca digital de la medicina tradicional mexicana. Jaundice Unspecified parts - Insect management products from Malian tradicional medicine
    Insecticidal
    Unspecified Poison Function - Larvicidal Unspecified parts - Insect management products from Malian tradicional medicine
    [KSP]
    Use
    Food and drink, medicine, perfumery, ornamental, insect-repellent.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    India, Sri Lanka

    Introduced Into:

    Aldabra, Algeria, Angola, Argentina Northeast, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Borneo, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Cambodia, Cameroon, Caroline Is., Central African Repu, Chile North, China South-Central, China Southeast, Colombia, Cook Is., Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Florida, French Guiana, Galápagos, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Guyana, Hainan, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jawa, Kazan-retto, Laos, Leeward Is., Lesser Sunda Is., Liberia, Madagascar, Malaya, Marianas, Marshall Is., Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Morocco, Myanmar, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Panamá, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Rodrigues, Rwanda, Réunion, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Society Is., Sulawesi, Sumatera, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad-Tobago, Vietnam, Windward Is., Zaïre

    Common Names

    English
    Lemon grass

    Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf appears in other Kew resources:

    First published in Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1906: 322 (1906)

    Accepted in:

    • [3] Girmansyah, D. & al. (eds.) (2013) Flora of Bali an annotated checklist . Herbarium Bogorensis, Indonesia.
    • [4] (2012) Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192
    • [5] (2011) Darwiniana 49: 139-247
    • [6] Onana, J.M. (2011) The vascular plants of Cameroon a taxonomic checklist with IUCN assessments . National herbarium of Cameroon, Yaoundé.
    • [7] (2010) Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
    • [8] Clayton, W.D. & Snow, N. (2010) A key to Pacific Grasses . Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [9] (2009) Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517
    • [10] (2008) Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh 12: 1-505. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
    • [11] (2008) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 107: 1-3348
    • [12] (2008) Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • [13] Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008) Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas . SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
    • [14] Newman, M., Ketphanh, S., Svengsuksa, B., Thomas, P., Sengdala, K., Lamxay, V. & Armstrong, K. (2007) A checklist of the vascular plants of Lao PDR . Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.
    • [16] (2006) Flora of China 22: 1-733. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • [17] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [18] Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006) Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau . Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
    • [19] Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H. (2006) World Grass Species - Synonymy database . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [20] Dávila, P., Mejia-Saulés, M.T., Gómez-Sánchez, N., Valdés-Reyna, J., Ortíz, J.J., Morín, C., Castrejón, J. & Ocampo, A. (2006) Catálogo de las Gramíneas de México . CONABIO, México city.
    • [21] Boulos, L. (2005) Flora of Egypt 4: 1-617. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
    • [22] (2003) Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 45: 1-590
    • [23] Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2003) Flora of North America North of Mexico 25: 1-781. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • [24] Dy Phon, P. (2000) Dictionnaire des plantes utilisées au Cambodge . Chez l'auteur, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
    • [25] (1999) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 75: i-viii, 1-1181
    • [26] Aedo, C., Tellería, M.T. & Velayos, M. (eds.) (1999) Bases Documentales para la Flora de Guinea Ecuatorial; Plantas vascularis y hongos . CSIC, real jardín Botánico, Madrid.
    • [27] Renvoize, S.A. (1998) Gramineas de Bolivia . The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [28] Boggan, J. Funck, V. & Kelloff, C. (1997) Checklist of the Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, Franch Guiana) ed. 2: 1-238. University of Guyana, Georgetown.
    • [29] (1994) Flora Mesoamericana 6: 1-543. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F..
    • [30] Dassanayake (ed.) (1994) A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon 8: 1-458. Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. PVT. LTD., New Delhi, Calcutta.
    • [31] (1993) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 45: i-xl, 1-1286
    • [32] Jones, M. (1991) A checklist of Gambian plants . Michael Jones, The Gambia College.
    • [33] Karthikeyan, S., Jain, S.K., Nayar, M.P. & Sanjappa, M. (1989) Florae Indicae Enumeratio: Monocotyledonae . Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta.
    • [34] Robertson, S.A. (1989) Flowering Plants of Seychelles . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [35] Troupin, G. (ed.) (1988) Flora du Rwanda 4: I-X, 1-651. Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.
    • [36] (1987) Ogasawara Research 13: 1-55
    • [37] Fosberg, F.R. & Renvoize, S.A. (1980) The Flora of Aldabra and neighbouring islands . Crown, London.
    • [38] Boulvert, Y. (1977) Catalogue de la Flore de Centrafrique 2(2): 1-94. ORSTOM, Bangui.
    • [39] (1973) Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Botany 4: 325-411
    • [40] Lebrun, J.P. (1973) Énumération des plantes vasculaires du Sénégal . Maisons Alfort: Institut d'élevage et de médecine vétérinaire des pays tropicaux.
    • [41] (1972) Flora of West Tropical Africa , ed. 2, 3(2): 277-574
    • [42] (1971) A revised flora of Malaya 3: 1-319. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Singapore.
    • [43] Bosser, J. (1969) Gramiées des pasturages et des cultures a Madagascar . ORSTOM, Paris.
    • [45] Henty, E.E. (1969) A manual of the grasses of New Guinea . Division of Botany, Dpt. of Forests, LAE, New Guinea.

    Literature

    • [1] (2016) Phytotaxa 250: 1-431
    • [2] Forzza, R.C. & al. (2013) Lista de Espécies da Flora do Brasil . http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/2010/.
    • [15] Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H. (2006 onwards). GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora.
    • [44] Bosser, J. (1969) Gramiées des pasturages et des cultures a Madagascar . ORSTOM, Paris.
    • [46] Bor, N.L. (1953). The genus Cymbopogon Spreng. in India, Burma and Ceylon. J. Bombay Nat. Hist.Soc. 51: 1-27.
    • [47] Masamune, G. (1942) Enumeratio phanerogamarum Bornearum . Taihoku, Formosa.
    • [48] Hubbard, C.E. & Vaughan, R.E. (1940) Grasses of Mauritius and Rodriguez . Crown Agents for the Colonies, London.
    • [49] Robyns, W. (1929) Flore Agrostologique du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi 1: 1-229. Goemaere, Bruxelles.
    • [50] H. Lecomte (1922) Flore Générale de l'indo-Chine 1(3): 193-336
    • [51] Watt, G. (1908). The Commercial Products of India. John Murray, London.

    • [52] Stapf, O. (1906). The oil-grasses of India and Ceylon. Kew Bull. 8: 297-362.
    • [53] Insect management products from Malian tradicional medicine
    • [54] Sampled Red List Index Conservation Assessment for Cymbopogon citratus. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

    Sources

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [C]

    Project MGU – Useful Plants Project (UPP) database
    [D]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [E] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [F] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
    [G] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0