Cymbopogon (lemongrass) is a genus of about 55 species of grasses, native to warm temperate and
tropical regions of the Old
World and Oceania. It is a tall perennial grass. Common
names include lemon grass, lemongrass, barbed wire grass,
silky heads, citronella grass,cha de Dartigalongue,
fever grass, Hierba Luisa or Gavati Chaha amongst many
Lemon grass is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It is also suitable for poultry, fish, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African and Latin American countries (e.g., Togo, Mexico, DR Congo).
Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus) is similar to the species above but grows to 2 m and has red base stems. These species are used for the production of citronella oil, which is used in soaps, as an insect repellent in insect sprays and candles, and also in aromatherapy, which is famous in Bintan, Indonesia. The principal chemical constituents of citronella, geraniol and citronellol, are antiseptics, hence their use in household disinfectants and soaps. Besides oil production, citronella grass is also used for culinary purposes, in tea and as a flavoring.
Lemon Grass Oil, used as a pesticide and preservative, is put on the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts found in India as a preservative. It is used at the Oriental Research Institute Mysore, the French Institute of Pondicherry, the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage in Kerala and many other manuscript collections in India. The lemon grass oil also injects natural fluidity into the brittle palm leaves and the hydrophobic nature of the oil keeps the manuscripts dry so that the text is not lost to decay due to humidity.
East-Indian Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), also called Cochin Grass or Malabar Grass (Malayalam:(inchippull), is native to Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Burma,and Thailand while the West-Indian lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), also known as serai in Malay, is assumed to have its origins in Malaysia. Indonesian people used to called it serai too or sereh. While both can be used interchangeably, C. citratus is more suited for cooking. In India C. citratus is used both as a medical herb and in perfumes. Cymbopogon citratus is consumed as a tea for anxiety in Brazilian folk medicine, but a study in humans found no effect. The tea caused a recurrence of contact dermatitis in one case
Lemon grass is also known as "Gavati Chaha" in the Marathi language (Gavat=grass; Chaha=tea), and is used as an addition to tea, and in preparations like 'kadha' which is a traditional herbal 'soup' used against coughs, colds, etc. It has medicinal properties and is used extensively in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicines. It is supposed to help with relieving cough and nasal congestion.
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