Family: Verbenaceae, Aloysia triphylla (L'Her.) Britt.

Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.

Lemon verbena, Aloysia triphylla (L'Her.) Britt., is an aromatic shrub native to Argentina and Chile. Also known as herb Louisa and formerly classified as Aloysia citriodora (Cav.) Ort., Lippia citriodora (Ort.) HBK, Verbena citriodora Cav., and Verbena triphylla L'Her., the deciduous plant is commonly cultivated in the tropics and Europe. It is produced commercially in France and North Reaching heights of 1 to 3 meters, the plants are characterized by fragrant, lemon-smelling, narrow leaves and small white flowers borne in terminal panicles.

Lemon verbena prefers full sun and a light loam soil. The plant is sensitive to cold and has high water requirements. Either seeds or vegetative cuttings are used for generating new plants. Commercial areas are generally harvested in early summer at full bloom and in the autumn just prior to cold, killing temperatures. Essential oil is extracted by steam distillation as soon as possible to minimize volatilization, because yields of the oil are very low (14.1-11).

The essential oil, known as oil of verbena, contains -citral, -citral, methyl heptenone, carvone, l-limonene, dipentene, linalool, -terpineol, borneol, nerol, geraniol, and other constituents (14.1-11). Because of the its high price, oil of verbena is often adulterated with distillates from other plant material. Extraction of verbena with petroleum ether and alcohol gives the concrete and absolute of verbena (14.1-11).

The leaves and flowering tops of lemon verbena are used in teas and to flavor alcoholic beverages. The plant is also an ingredient in some desserts, fruit salads, and jams. It is used in perfumery, especially in making toilet water and eau de cologne. The plant is often grown as an ornamental, but it needs to be kept indoors during winter months in northern regions.

As a medicinal plant, the leaves and flowers of lemon verbena have been used as an antispasmodic, antipyretic, sedative, and stomachic.

Lemon verbena is generally recognized as safe for human consumption in alcoholic beverages (21 CFR section 172.510 [1982]).

[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in full in the original reference].

Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Index

Last modified 6-Dec-1997