Herb: Lemon Verbena


Latin name: Aloysia triphylla


Synonyms: Aloysia citrodora, Lippia citrodora, Lippia triphylla, Verbena triphylla


Family: Verbenaceae (Verbena Family)



Medicinal use of Lemon Verbena:

An undervalued medicinal herb, lemon verbena contains a strong lemon-scented essential oil that has calming and digestive qualities. The plant has a gentle sedative action and a reputation for soothing abdominal discomfort. It has a mildly tonic effect upon the nervous system and helps to lift the spirits and counter depression. The leaves and the flowering tops are antispasmodic, febrifuge, sedative and stomachic. A tea made from the leaves has a deliciously refreshing lemon flavour and is used mainly in treating digestive disorders such as flatulence, indigestion and acidity. Some caution is advisable though, since prolonged use or large internal doses can cause gastric irritation. The herb is also useful as a stimulant for treating lethargy or depression whilst it is also used to treat feverish colds. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy in the treatment of nervous and digestive problems and also for acne, boils and cysts.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

Flovering:
August


Scent:
Scented
Shrub

Habitat of the herb:

Fields and roadsides. Open scrub.

Edible parts of Lemon Verbena:

Leaves - occasionally cooked as a spinach but more commonly used as a flavouring in salads, fruit salads etc. A delicious lemon-like flavour, it is adored by most people who try it. A delicious and refreshing tea is made from the leaves. The dried leaves will retain their lemon aroma for many years.

Other uses of the herb:

An essential oil obtained from the leaves is extensively used in perfumery. An average yield of 0.5% is obtained. There is some evidence that the use of this oil can sensitise the skin to sunlight and so its use has been largely replaced by the tropical plant lemongrass, Cymbopogon spp. The dried leaves retain their fragrance well and so are used in pot-pourri. The growing plant repels midges, flies and other insects. The essential oil is an effective insecticide in 1 - 2% concentration.

Propagation of Lemon Verbena:

Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in late spring. Only just cover the seed and keep in a light position, making sure the compost does not dry out. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out in early summer and give some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of softwood, May/June in a frame. Grow on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. The cuttings root quickly and easily, though there can be losses in the first winter. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Grow on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. The cuttings root quickly and easily, though there can be losses in the first winter.

Cultivation of the herb:

Fields and roadsides. Open scrub.

Known hazards of Aloysia triphylla:

The essential oil from the plant might sensitise the skin to sunlight.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.