2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Food and agriculture; Plants

Lemon grass plant
Lemon grass plant
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Cymbopogon

About 55, see text

Cymbopogon (lemon grass, lemongrass, citronella grass or fever grass) is a genus of about 55 species of grasses, native to warm temperate and tropical regions of the Old World. It is a tall perennial grass.

Cultivation and uses

Prepared Lemongrass
Prepared Lemongrass

Lemon grass is widely used as an herb in Asian (particularly Khmer, Thai, Lao, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese) and Caribbean cooking. It has a lemony flavour and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. The stalk itself is too hard to be eaten, except for the soft inner part. However, it can be finely sliced and added to recipes. It may also be bruised and added whole as this releases the aromatic oils from the juice sacs in the stalk. The main constituent of lemongrass oil is citral.

Lemon grass is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It is also suitable for poultry, fish, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African countries (e.g. Togo).

East-Indian Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), also called Cochin Grass or Malabar Grass, is native to Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Burma,and Thailand while the West-Indian lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is assumed to have its origins in Malaysia. While both can be used interchangeably, C. citratus is more suited for cooking. In India C. citratus is used both as a medical herb and in perfumes.

Lemon grass at a market
Lemon grass at a market

Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus) is similar to the species above but grows to 2 m and has red base stems. These species are used for the production of citronella oil, which is used in soaps, as a mosquito repellent in insect sprays and candles, and also in aromatherapy, which is famous in Bintan, Indonesia. The principle 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 use, such as in tea.

Palmarosa also called Rosha Grass and Indian Geranium (Cymbopogon martinii) is another species used in the perfume industry. It is a perennial clumping grass which grows to 150 cm with finer leaves and has a smaller bulbous base than the species above. The leaves and flower tops contain a sweet smelling oil which is used for the production of geraniol. It is also distilled into palmarosa oil and used in aromatherapy for its calming effect to help relieve nervous tension and stress.

LemonGrass in some cases has been used as a mild Deppresent for the central nervous system. it also makes a good weed barrier

One particular alpine grassland variant known as juzai is a staple of Kyrgyz, Dungan and Uyghur cooking.

Partial species list

  • Cymbopogon ambiguus Australian lemon-scented grass (native of Australia)
  • Cymbopogon bombycinus Silky Oilgrass (native of Australia)
  • Cymbopogon citratus Lemon Grass
  • Cymbopogon citriodora West Indian lemon grass
  • Cymbopogon flexuosus East Indian lemon grass
  • Cymbopogon martini
  • Cymbopogon nardus Citronella Grass
  • Cymbopogon obtectus Silky-heads (native of Australia)
  • Cymbopogon procerus (native of Australia)
  • Cymbopogon schoenanthus
  • Cymbopogon winterianus Citronella Grass


  • MF Doom's Lemon Grass in his Special Herbs collection is an instrumental version of Doomsday, from Operation: Doomsday.

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