The lemon verbena is the South American sister of the native verbena. However, verbena looks quite different and also smells strongly lemony, quite different from its relative. This is why it is called “lemon verbena”. You can easily distinguish the two plants because only the lemon verbena from South America has an intensive lemon aroma. The native verbena simply tastes bitter. Besides, the native verbena as a plant is much smaller than the lemon verbena.
You can use lemon verbena in a similar way to verbena, but it is also very well suited as a tasty house tea for pure enjoyment. In summer, verbena tea can be refreshing and soothing. What is unusual about lemon verbena is that it has three different scientific names. All three stand for the same plant species.
So as a refreshing plant for house tea, lemon verbena is very popular and is also used as a medicinal plant. It is also popular as a fragrance oil.
The lemon verbena is native to South America in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. However, it is also cultivated in southern Europe because it thrives there. It prefers nutrient-rich sandy soils and loves full sun and a sheltered location. The perennial plant grows up to 3 metres high.
In spring, the root initially sprouts new stems, but the lignified stems from the previous year also continue to grow. From May onwards, the elongated leaves emerge from the stems, which grow vigorously in threes, i.e. always three at the same height around the stem. The fully grown leaves are a little rough and have a strong lemon scent. They have a slightly jagged edge. From August onwards the small white flowers appear at the top of the stem. They each have four tiny petals. Many of these flowers together form a loose spike.
Lippia citriodora or Aloysia triphylla.
Lemon beebrush, lemon-scented verbena, vervain, citroenverbena.
Used plant parts
Essential oil: citral, neral, geranial, geraniol, limonene, linalool, nerol; flavonoids.
Main use: Nervousness.
- Metabolically stimulating
- Promotes concentration
- Menstrually stimulating
- Toe picking
Areas of application
- Nervous heart condition
- Insect bites
- Catarrh of the upper airways
- Lack of concentration
- Stomach weakness
- Muscle aches
- Circles under the eyes
- Weakness in the connective tissue
The main effects of lemon verbena seem contradictory at first, because it activates and calms at the same time. But in practice, these two effects complement each other wonderfully. If you are stressed, you want to relax, but not necessarily get tired. Those who feel limp want to be invigorated, but not to break out in a hectic rush.
This is how the lemon verbena ensures a pleasant feeling of well-being. In the evening it can even help you fall asleep, because it does not stimulate, but only has a gentle effect.
Lemon verbena also strengthens the metabolism and helps digestion. Pathogens are combated, cramps are relieved, but contractions are strengthened.
If you have light skin, you should not rub yourself with a verbena-rich cream in summer when you go out into the sun.
Because verbena has a menstrual and contraction stimulating effect, it should not be used during pregnancy, at least not in large quantities. Only to support the birth the verbena is then suitable again.
So take care! No lemon verbena in pregnancy!
When used for incense or in the fragrance lamp, lemon verbena is said to cleanse the room and the atmosphere – a reasonable assumption considering the effect of its essential oils.
Forms of preparation
Lemon verbena can be used either as tea or as an essential oil. It is also used in the kitchen. But the most common way to use lemon verbena is as a herbal tea.
To make a lemon verbena tea, pour a cup of boiling water over one or two teaspoons of fresh or dried lemon verbena leaves and leave to infuse for ten minutes. Then strain and drink the lemon verbena tea in small sips. You drink one to three cups of this tea a day.
As with all highly effective medicinal herbs, after six weeks of continuous use, one should take a break and temporarily drink another tea with similar effects. Afterwards you can drink lemon verbena tea again for six weeks. The break prevents possible undesirable long-term effects and the desired effectiveness of lemon verbena is maintained.
Lemon verbena is also very well suited as an ingredient in mixed teas. It improves the taste of the tea blends so that they taste fresh and slightly lemony.
As a pure refreshing drink, the lemon verbena can be prepared as a cold extract. Fresh lemon verbena leaves are best suited for this purpose, but you can also use dried ones. Put two teaspoons of fresh or dried lemon verbena leaves together with a slice of lemon in a carafe of cold water. Leave this mixture in the fridge overnight. The next day you get a refreshing cold drink.
Unfortunately, the essential oil of lemon verbena is relatively expensive, which is surprising at first because the lemon verbena leaves smell so intense that one thinks one could extract a lot of essential oil from them. But this is obviously not the case.
You can evaporate the essential oil in scented lamps to refresh the air in the room. You can also drip it into vegetable oil as body and massage oil, e.g. 10 drops per 100 ml vegetable oil. Even homemade creams and ointments can enrich the essential verbena oil with its scent.
Some bath additives contain essential verbena oil. Such a bath relaxes and invigorates at the same time. One becomes calm without getting tired and one is invigorated but remains calm.
The fresh leaves of lemon verbena can be used very well in the kitchen. Fruit salads and other fruity desserts get a certain lemon spice from them. Lemon verbena leaves are also very good in salty salads or vegetable dishes. You can also try the verbena with roasted meat.
The lemon verbena originally comes from the south of South America, where it has been used as a medicinal plant and tea herb for a very long time. Lemon verbena was introduced to Europe at the end of the 18th century, and in 1784 lemon verbena was first scientifically described as a species.
Shortly after its introduction in Europe, lemon verbena was a popular ornamental plant in European gardens. Nowadays, however, it is rarely seen in gardens, and when it is, it is enthusiasts of its lemony aroma who cultivate it.
In Central Europe, lemon verbena is best planted in tubs because it is only conditionally hardy. You can either grow it from seeds, propagate it by cuttings or buy finished plants.
As a permanent container you need a very large tub, because lemon verbena can become very stately (3 m high) when it feels well. The plants should be watered sufficiently, but cannot tolerate stagnant moisture. If you can’t put them in a winter garden or similar in winter, cut back the branches and cover them. Then put them in a place that is as sheltered as possible. During longer periods of frost, you can place the tub temporarily in the cellar.
The leaves of lemon verbena are usually harvested. But you can also use the flowers. The leaves are harvested before and during flowering. You can either pick single leaves if you need very little plant material. Or you can cut off a whole shoot or its upper half.
If you cut off directly above a pair of leaves, the regrowing plant will branch and become bushier and more luxuriant. The leaves and possibly flowers must be dried gently and as quickly as possible in partial shade.
Aloysia citrodora, lemon verbena, is a species of flowering plant in the verbena family Verbenaceae, native to South America. Other common names include lemon beebrush. It was brought to Europe by the Spanish and the Portuguese in the 17th century and cultivated for its oil.
lemon verbena (plural lemon verbenas)
- A deciduous perennial shrub native to South America, used for its lemon-like fragrance and flavor, Aloysia citrodora.
- lemon beebrush; Verbena triphylla and others
- Aloysia citrodora on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- Aloysia citrodora on Wikispecies.Wikispecies