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Aloysia citrodora is a species of flowering plant in the verbena family, Verbenaceae, that is native to Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. Common names include Lemon Verbena and Lemon Beebrush.[2] It was brought to Europe by the Spanish and the Portuguese in the 17th century.


Lemon Verbena is a deciduous open shrub growing to 2 –3 m high. The 8 cm long glossy, pointed leaves are slightly rough to the touch and emit a powerful lemon scent when bruised. Sprays of tiny lilac or white flowers appear in late Spring or early Summer. It is sensitive to cold, losing leaves at temperatures below 0°C although the wood is hardy to -10°C.[3]


Lemon verbena leaves are used to add a lemony flavor to fish and poultry dishes, vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, and beverages. It also is used to make herbal teas, or added to standard tea in place of actual lemon (as is common with Moroccan tea). It can also be used to make a sorbet. In addition, it has anti-Candida albicans activity.[4] In European Union, Verbena essential oils (Lippia citriodora Kunth.) and derivatives other than absolute are prohibited when used as a fragrance ingredient (Commission Directive 2009/164/EU of 22 December 2009).

Moderate antioxidant supplementation with lemon verbena extract protects neutrophils against oxidative damage, decreases the signs of muscular damage in chronic running exercise without blocking the cellular adaptation to exercise.[5]

Lippia citriodora extract shows antioxidant properties that could play an important role in modulating GSH-reductase activity in lymphocytes and erythrocytes and protecting plasma from exercise oxidative damage.[6]

Lemon verbena extract containing 25% verbascoside showed strong antioxidant capacity, especially in a lipophilic environment, which was higher than expected as concluded from the antioxidant capacity of pure verbascoside, probably due to synergistic effects. The capacity of verbascoside to act as an effective radical scavenger in lipophilic environments was also shown. Verbascoside-enriched extracts might have interesting applications in cosmetic, nutraceuticals or functional food;[7] however, the genotoxicity of verbascoside may limit its use.[8]


The major isolates in lemon verbena oil are citral (30-35%), nerol and geraniol.[9]

Phenylpropanoids are the main class of compounds from lemon verbena which have shown a wide biological activity, verbascoside being the most abundant one.,


Synonyms for Lemon Verbena are Verbena triphylla L’Hér., Verbena citriodora Cav., Lippia triphylla, Lippia citriodora, Aloysia citriodora (Cav.) Ort.

Garden history

The first European botanist who publicly noticed this plant was the French Philibert Commerson, who collected in the Buenos Aires on his botanical circumnavigation with Bougainville, about 1785. The plant had already been quietly imported directly into the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, where professors Casimiro Gómez Ortega and Antonio Palau y Verdera named it, though they did not publish it, Aloysia citrodora,[10] to compliment the morganatic wife of the Garden’s patron Infante Luis Antonio de Borbon, Prince of Asturias and brother of king Carlos III.[11]

Unofficial importations from Spanish America seldom fared well: when another French botanist Joseph Dombey landed his collections at Cadiz in 1785 they were impounded and left to rot in warehouses, while he was refused permission even to have seeds planted. Among the bare handful of plants Dombey had assembled during eight years at Lima, Lemon Verbena survived.[12]

Palau y Verdera’s dedication was utterly ignored, and when the plant became popular throughout southern Spain as Yerba Luisa it was connected, even in print, with the more prominent personage Maria Luisa, Queen of Spain.[13]

Meanwhile Gómez Ortega sent seeds and specimens of the plant to Charles Louis L’Héritier de Brutelle in Paris; L’Héritier published it as Verbena triphylla in his Stirpes Novae. 1784. From Paris John Sibthorpe, professor of Botany at Oxford, obtained the specimen that he introduced to British horticulture: by 1797 the Lemon Verbena was common in greenhouses around London, and its popularity as essential in a fragrant bouquet increased through the following century

Written on June 8th, 2012 , Forestry Tags:

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