The lemongrass plant belongs to the genus Cymbopogon and to the family of Poaceae (former Graminaceae).The two species used to obtain what we all know as "lemongrass" with a lemon aroma that keeps mosquitoes away are the
Cymbopogon nardus(Ceylon lemongrass) and del
Cymbopogon winterianus(citronella di Java) considered the latter more valuable than the previous one as its content in essential oils is higher and commercially it has spread all over the world.
These are perennial herbaceous plants, evergreen, native to the tropical countries of south-east Asia.They are bushy plants that can reach up to one meter in height. The stem is rigid, erect with ribbon-like leaves, with an almost papery consistency and a beautiful deep green color tending to bluish and drooping (reminiscent of our Chlorophytum) and both give off a pleasant citrus scent.
From lemongrass species Cymbopogon nardus is Cymbopogon winterianus, an essence called "lemongrass" is extracted, with a strong lemon aroma, consisting mainly of citronellol (up to 50%) and geraniol (up to 45%) and there is no other plant in which these two constituents are found together in this way great deal.
Secondly we find camphene, methyl eugenol, borneol, which produce a secondary aroma reminiscent of damp and moldy vegetation. This characteristic is more promised in Ceylon lemongrass than in Java lemongrass. Conversely, Java lemongrass contains much higher amounts of citronellol, a natural insect repellent.
The therapeutic properties of its essential oils are: antiseptic, antibacterial, antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, fungicide, insecticide, tonic, vermifuge, rubefacient, astringent.
USED PARTS OF THE PLANT
For the extraction of the essential oils, both the stems and the leaves of lemongrass are collected and left to dry slightly to then extract the lemongrass essence by distillation.
Some species of lemongrass are normally used in Asian cuisines using both fresh and powdered leaves and the central part of the stem.
HOW TO USE IT
As a liniment, thanks to its rubefacient properties, it is used for lumbago, rheumatism, arthritis, neuralgia, sprains.
Its antispasmodic action helps with gastrointestinal problems.
Its vermifuge and antibacterial action helps in intestinal parasitic infections.
It is widely used in oriental medicine and in aromatherapy.
Thanks to its components it is widely used in perfumery for the production of soaps and perfumes.
It also helps in excessive perspiration and in the care of skin and oily hair thanks to its astringent power.
But lemongrass is perhaps best known as a mosquito repellent both in the form of candles (less effective as the amount of candles that would be needed would be really excessive) and in the form of lotions to sprinkle on the body.
Asian cuisine, especially Thai, Filipino, Sri Lankan and Caribbean cuisine uses both fresh and powdered leaves and the central part of the stem.In African countries it is widely used as tea or for the preparation of very pleasant herbal teas.
Lemongrass is a widely cultivated plant all over the world and the main producing countries are Sri Lanka, India, Taiwan, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Brazil.
The citronella essence is also present in other plants, to varying degrees, such as geranium and basil.
Lemongrass repels cats.
In the use of lemongrass oil it must be borne in mind that many people have a specific sensitivity towards this product whether it comes directly into contact with the skin or is inhaled so it should be used with caution.