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Cymbopogon citratus


Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf

Family Name: Poaceae (Gramineae)
Synonyms: Andropogon citriodorum, Acroceras citratus
Common Name: Serai, West Indian Lemon Grass, Oil Grass, Fever Grass, Serai Makan, Sereh Makan, Lemongrass, 柠檬草, 柠檬香茅, 香茅草


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Grass & Grass-like Plant (Tall Grass (Poaceae))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Grassy
Maximum Height 0.6 m to 1.2 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 0.6 m to 0.9 m


Native Distribution Unknown.
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Of Uncertain Origin

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Clump-forming grass up to 1.2 m tall or 2m tall when in flower.
Foliage Leaf blades are light green and  strap-shaped (up to 0.9 m long, 2.5 cm wide). Crushed leaves exude a lemony scent.
Stems A pseudostem formed from tightly-overlapping leaf sheaths on non-flowering shoots is 12-25 cm long and 1-2 cm across, bulbous and thickening towards base of plant. It is fragrant when crushed and yellowish-brown or reddish.
Flowers Numerous brownish florets held on compound drooping panicles up to 0.5 m across, rarely produced in cultivation.
Fruit Spikelets with hairy awns, rarely observed.
Habitat Native to grasslands of tropical Asia, now found only in cultivation.
Cultivation Fast grower. Prefers moist, well-drained loamy soils, but will tolerate most other soil types. If grown in containers, plant needs to be divided and separated regularly. Propagate by division, rhizomes and pseduostems (which can be rooted in water before planting out).
Etymology Genus epithet 'Cymbopogon' means 'boat' (kymbe) and 'beard' (pogon) in Greek, referring to the boat-shaped flower spathes and hairy fruit spikelets typical of this genus. Species epithet 'citratus' means resembling Citrus, a reference to the lemony scent produced by parts of the plant.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Leaves
Food (Herb and Spice): The crushed stalk produces a lemony flavor which is used in a variety of Southeast Asian dishes, such as curries, seafood, poultry dishes, and soups like Tom Yam Soup. Lemongrass is especially popular in Thailand, Vietnam, Laotia and Cambodia.
Medicinal: Leaves can be boiled to make a refreshing tea to relieve stomach cramps, flatulence, colic and other digestive problems. Leaf paste is applied as a poultice on joints to treat rheumatism and on the forehead to relieve headaches and fever. Roots are consumed to induce sweating and improve urine flow. Leaves can be placed in bathwater to treat cuts and wounds, reduce swelling, improve blood circulation and remove body odour.
Others: Essential oils extracted from the leaf stalk is used in perfumes, cosmetics, skin care and aromatherapy products.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping Often planted in home and economic gardens for culinary purposes. Can also be used as ornamental grass along sunny borders and walkways for its graceful arching leaves.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant (Foliage)
Landscape Uses Container Planting, General, Flowerbed / Border
Thematic Landscaping Fragrant / Aromatherapy Garden, Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Leaf edges may be sharp.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Rootzone Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Easy to Grow, Shallow Media (8 -10cm)
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Storage Organ, Division, Stem Cutting
Propagation Method Remarks Fresh stalks available in local markets can be rooted in water.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green - Light Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Thin
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Basal
Foliar Attachment to Stem Sessile
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Linear)
Foliar Venation Parallel
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Monocot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Acaulescent
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Brown
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Period Rarely
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Indehiscent Dry Fruit , Caryopsis / Grain

Image Repository



Master ID 623
Species ID 1918
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 25 August 2021.