La citronella

Origin and variety of lemongrass

Lemongrass is a shrub plant that is part of the ‘poaceae’ family and is included in the ‘cymbopogon’ genus. Similar to grasses, in some aspects it recalls the sorghum plant. However, it is a perennial evergreen species and comes from the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and Oceania. It has various denominations in the world and in English it is also known as ‘lemon grass’ precisely because its scent recalls that of lemon. In nature we can find at least 50 different species of lemongrass but there are two with the most aromatic leaves. The ‘citronella di Ceylon’ is one of the most used species to extract the essential oil and is little used in cooking due to its not very pleasant taste. The other great variety is the ‘cymbopogon winterianus’, also called ‘Java lemongrass’. The latter type is by far the most valuable and marketed in the world.

Among the bush plants, lemongrass is perhaps one of the simplest to grow and care for. In fact, lemongrass appears as a herbaceous plant and is ideal for filling the garden, perhaps near other aromatic plants. This species can reach a height of one meter and is composed of dense long ribbon-shaped leaves that can reach up to 70 cm in length. They are bright green, thick, slightly streaked along the surface and drooping downwards. The plant is supported at the base by small stiff and not too thick stems that resemble many bamboo canes. If you rub the leaves and stems between your fingers it is possible to perceive in a very intense way the characteristic and pleasant smell of citrus so hated by mosquitoes and other insects.

To plant lemongrasswe can choose whether to put it in a vase or in the garden. Being a plant native to tropical climate countries, lemongrass is sensitive to lower temperatures and in the cold months it tends to lose part of the leaves that will blossom again in spring. If you decide to put the plant in a pot, a medium-sized one will suffice since the roots are not so extensive. If, on the other hand, you want to place lemongrass in the garden, it is good to identify a large space so that the long leaves can grow freely. This shrub prefers direct sunlight while no particular characteristics are required for the soil. A dry, fertile and moderately fertilized soil will be sufficient. The plant will be watered regularly as it suffers in periods of drought.

Lemongrass: Uses and properties of lemongrass

Lemongrass is universally recognized as a mosquito repellent plant. In fact, it manages to repel the onslaught thanks to its lemon aroma. It is no coincidence that lemongrass essence is used as an ingredient in mosquito creams and sprays. It should therefore be planted in pots placed near windows and balconies to prevent the entry of the hated insects. Alternatively, there are candles and matches on the market to be lit in the garden or at home. In reality, lemongrass is not only excellent against mosquitoes but also serves to flavor tea and infusions. In fact, this plant has unexpected beneficial properties. It can help fight stomach ailments and is also useful as a soothing agent for nervousness. Lemongrass is also a good antiviral against flu and antispasmodic to relieve cramps and muscle aches.

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