Aloysia citrodora – Lemon Verbena – Lemon Beebrush

Aloysia citrodora – Lemon Verbena – Lemon Beebrush

Lemon verbena is a perennial shrub or subshrub growing to 2–3 m high. The 8-cm-long, glossy, pointed leaves are slightly rough to the touch and emit a powerful scent reminiscent of lemon when bruised (hence the Latin specific epithet citrodora—lemon-scented).

Sprays of tiny purple or white flowers appear in late spring or early summer. It is sensitive to cold, losing leaves at temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F), although the wood is hardy to −10 °C (14 °F).  Due to its many culinary uses, it is widely listed and marketed as a plant for the herb garden.

Lemon Verbena is a main ingredient of the Inca Kola.

Harvest and Storage

 Harvest leaves as needed throughout the growing season. Each time you snip a stem, new growth will emerge at the whorl of leaves beneath the cut. This growth pattern makes frequent cutting necessary to keep stems from becoming leggy.To make a large picking, cut plants back by half. Dry leaves individually on screens or bundle stems together and hang upside down in a dark, dry place. Store dried leaves in sealed containers in a dark place. To release flavor, crumble leaves finely just before using. You can freeze lemon verbena, whole or chopped, in ice cube trays filled with water. You can also blend chopped leaves into softened butter. Store butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or form into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet. Store frozen balls in zipper bags, using them to flavor vegetables and fish or spread on bread or pancakes.

FLOWERING: June – November. Flowering apparently depends not only on the length of the growing season, but also on stem length, and gardeners who tend to prune lemon verbena fairly hard probably will not see many flowers. The blossoms are small, numerous, and white to pale purple, clustered along the last few inches of the main stem and on short stems in the leaf axils.

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Verbenaceae
Genus: Aloysia
Species: A. citrodora

Date Planted

2017 from small plant


Purchase Info

Brugge


Progress

 


Diseases and Proplems:

Pests can be an issue when growing lemon verbena indoors; watch for spider mites and white flies. As a precaution, we recommend rinsing plants under fast flowing fresh water every two weeks.

Spider mites and whiteflies adore lemon verbena. Some gardeners won’t grow it because they feel this herb attracts those pests. Avoid carrying these pests indoors by allowing plants to stay outdoors until leaves drop.Lemon verbena drops its leaves prior to entering dormancy in the fall and also in response to stress. Situations that trigger leaf drop include root disturbance, an intense cold draft, quick temperature change, or transplanting. Plants also seem to enter dormancy in response to shortening day length. During dormancy, don’t overwater plants. New growth typically emerges eventually (in spring for overwintering plants).

 

 


Uses:

Lemon verbena has been used traditionally by Europeans as a diuretic and a gout remedy, to treat inflammation of the liver or spleen, and even to aid depression. It is also brewed in tea as a home remedy to relieve colds and fevers. Lemon verbena is a natural insect repellent.

Lemon verbena leaves are used to add a lemon flavor to fish and poultry dishes, vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, Greek yogurt 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 (a type of yeast that is a common member of the human gut flora). In the 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).

Culinary:

Use lemon verbena in recipes in place of lemon zest. Leaves are tough and leathery; mince them very fine with a food processor for consumption. Many times it’s easiest to use a whole leaf to season a dish and remove it before serving. Steep lemon verbena in hot water to brew tea or in milk to create a flavored base for ice cream, sorbet, or pudding. Bury a few leaves in sugar in a sealed container; use this sugar to flavor cookies and dough. You can also use leaves to flavor vinegar, salad dressing, or marinades. Add dried, crumbled leaves to rice just before serving or blend into quick bread batters. You can also use the leaves and stems to flavor an icing for our Lemon Verbena Tea Bread.

Medical Research:

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

Aloysia 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. 

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.  Although some “in vitro” genotoxicity of verbascoside has been reported on human lymphocytes with an involvement of PARP-1 and p53 proteins, subsequent “in vivo” tests reported no genotoxicity for high dosage oral administration.

Heath Benefits:

Help with weight loss goals, protect your muscles, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, calm the stomach, reduce fevers, soothe nerves, and clear up congestion. The essential oil of lemon verbena, when extracted, contains a high concentration of powerful antioxidant compounds, including verbascoside, nerol, geraniol, and citral. The most common use of lemon verbena outside of herbal pill supplementation is as an herbal tea. The leaves can be dried and then steeped for a powerful boost to many of your organ systems and metabolic processes

Health Benefits Of Lemon Verbena:

Weight Loss

Lemon verbena tea  reduces the “munchies”and helps to increase fat-burning by optimizing various bodily processes.

Protect Your Muscles

used as exercise supplement, esearch has shown that the high antioxidant potential of Verbina tea decreases damage done to the muscles during the workout, without inhibiting your body’s development of additional muscle mass and increased stamina.

Reduce Inflammation

Lemon verbena has been directly linked with reduced joint pain and aching, and faster recovery times for joint-related injuries, primarily due to the antioxidant performance.

Immune System

Research has connected lemon verbena supplementation with lowered oxidative stress levels and better overall health of the body, evidence by a decisive increase in white blood cells, the first line of defense for our immune system.

Digestive Issues

Lemon verbena tea also has certain soothing qualities that have been traditionally relied on to relieve stomach issues and indigestion in many different cultures. This herbal preparation has anti-spasmodic qualities that help it calm the stomach and eliminate cramping and bloating, which can lead to discomfort and more serious gastrointestinal issues. It also helps to regulate the appetite (which might mean stimulating it, in some cases), leading to healthy nutrient intake to optimize your metabolic processes.

Reduce Fevers

In traditional South American medicine, lemon verbena was trusted as a diaphoretic, meaning that it stimulated sweating, and was therefore used to break fevers and speed healing for those suffering from inflammatory illnesses.

Anxiety and Nerves

The antioxidant compounds found in lemon verbena can also have an impact on the hormonal balance in the body. While this effect isn’t dramatic, it has been known as a calming beverage and is prescribed for those with nervous afflictions or chronic stress, as it can ease the mind and calm the body.

Congestion

The final beneficial attribute of lemon verbena is its expectorant properties. This means that drinking the tea can loosen up congestion in the respiratory tracts and help eliminate the phlegm and mucous in that system.

WARNINGS:

Despite this generally positive portrayal of lemon verbena, some people do suffer from mild dermatitis as a mild allergic response. Also, if you suffer from kidney disease, lemon verbena’s active ingredients could potentially worsen the condition, so avoid use.


Cultivation: 

If planning to winter indoors, grow in 6 inch and larger pots with drainage holes. Lemon verbena is a shrub from South American, and therefore must be wintered indoors below USDA zone 9. However, lemon verbena is deciduous and typically drops its leaves during the low light months. This is a critical point; we have heard from many sad gardeners lamenting the death of their plant over winter indoors (where as the plant was simply demonstrating its natural dormancy). Dormancy lasts one to three months, during which time you should water weekly and never fertilize. The only way to prevent winter dormancy for lemon verbena is to grow it under grow lights left on 18 hours/day.

Plant lemon verbena in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Drainage is a key to success with this herb, which will die if roots stay constantly wet. If you’re growing lemon verbena in a container, choose one at least 12 inches in diameter to give roots room to spread. A larger pot also insulates roots somewhat against soil temperature changes. Burying the container in the ground provides the best insulation for roots, but it’s a risky choice. If plants root into surrounding garden soil, when you remove the container in the fall, severing the roots will likely trigger leaf drop.Full sun yields best growth and the most flavorful leaves, although plants in southernmost and desert regions benefit from light afternoon shade. In Northernmost areas, siting a plant near a white wall or fence will surround the plant with reflected light, which enhances growth. If plants receive more shade than sun, stems will be spindly and sprawling and leaves will lack strong essential oil levels. Lemon verbena is a heavy feeder and, unlike many herbs, benefits from frequent fertilization. During periods of active growth, fertilize plants every four weeks outdoors, every two weeks indoors.

Lemon verbena typically drops its leaves when temperatures dip below 40 degrees F, entering dormancy. It’s possible to overwinter lemon verbena outdoors in Zone 8, but it’s wise to help plants harden off. To do this, reduce watering a few weeks prior to the typical onset of below-freezing temperatures.

In northern zones, carry plants indoors before cold weather arrives, or wait until a cold snap causes the plant to drop leaves, then move it indoors. Most likely, the move from outside to inside will cause the plant to drop all its leaves. Many gardeners let the weather trigger leaf drop to avoid indoor clean-up and prevent carrying insects inside. Thin plants before bringing indoors, removing spindly stems. Save these stems to dry and scent dresser drawers and closets.

Avoid overwatering dormant (leafless) plants. This is a common way gardeners kill lemon verbena, whether it’s growing in planting beds or pots.

Propagation: 

If your lemon verbena does flower, the chances of obtaining viable seed are marginal, so lemon verbena is usually propagated vegetatively. Those who grow this plant successfully advise taking basal cuttings of the current year’s growth in summer when the plant is growing vigorously. Such cuttings root fairly easily . If taken in early fall or later, when growth slows as the days shorten, cuttings will take longer to root (which increases the chance of failure) and are less likely to survive transplanting. If you do take cuttings late in the growing season, root them in 2 1/2- or 3-inch pots to postpone the need to disturb the new root systems, and use supplemental lighting, if possible.

Cuttings and divisions are best taken when plants are emerging from dormancy in late spring. Lemon verbena is typically grown as a specimen plant in a container at least 12in (30 cm) in diameter. A mature plant, grown in a sunken container, will occupy a space 18in (45 cm) square if well staked but still expect lanky growth that responds well to monthly trimming.

Pruning: Responds well to regular trimming, which keeps the plant from getting too lanky. Lemon verbena can be harvested at any time in the active growing season, and is equally wonderful fresh or dried. The branches of lemon verbena will triple at every point where you snip them – so harvest often.

Hardiness:  t is sensitive to cold, losing leaves at temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F),  the wood is hardy to −10 °C (14 °F)

Companion Plants: Monarda.