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Lemon Verbena (Lippia citriodora [Ort.] HBK)


botanicalVerbena triphylla (L’Hér.), Verbena citriodora Cav., Aloysia triphylla (L’Hér.) Britton, Aloysia citriodora (Cav.) Ort.
CatalanHerba lluïsa, Marialluïsa
檸檬馬鞭草 [nìhng mūng máh bīn chóu]
Nihng mung mah bin chou
檸檬馬鞭草 [níng méng mǎ biān cǎo]
Ning meng ma bian cao
EnglishLemon-scented verbena,
Farsiبه لیمو
Beh limou
FrenchVerveine citronnelle, Verveine odorante, Verveine citronelle
GalicianHerba Luisa
GreekΒερμπένα, Λουΐζα
Louïza, Verbena
Hebrewלואיזה, ליפיה לימונית
Lipia limonit, Luisa, Luizah
HungarianCitrom verbéna, Cedron
Japaneseレモンバーベナ, ボウシュウボク
Remonbabena, Bōshū-boku, Boshu-boku
Korean레몬 버베나, 레몬버베나
Remon beobena, Remon bobena, Remon-beobena
LithuanianCitrininė aloyzija, Verbena
RomanianLămâițăLămâiţă, Verbină
RussianВербена лимонная
Verbena limonnaya
SerbianЛимун вербена
Limun verbena
SlovakAlojzia citrónová
SpanishCedron, Hierbaluisa
CroatianZeleni limun-sporiš
PolishLippia trójlistna
UzbekLimon o’t
Лимон ўт
Lippia citriodora: Lemon verbena
Lemon verbena twig
Lippia citriodora: Lemon verbena
Lemon verbena with flowers
Lippia citriodora: Lemon verbena leaf
Lemon verbena leaf
Used plant part

Leaves, best used fresh.

Plant family

Verbenaceae (verbena family).

Sensory quality

Lemon verbena has an unusually pure, fruity lemon note; it is more intense than many other lemon-scented herbs (see lemon myrtle for an overview).

Main constitu­ents

The essential oil (less than 1%) is mainly charac­terized by the aldehydes neral and geranial (citral); further mono­terpenoids found are limonene, carvone, dipentene, linalool, nerol and geraniol.


South America (Chile, Perú).

Genus Lippia con­tains about 200 species from the tropics of Africa and America; of these, the Mexican Oregano (L. graveolens) is most important as a new-world substitute for oregano. Another plant worth mentioning is L. dulcis (Aztec sweetherb, sweet lippia): Besides containing an effective sweetener, the plant has an intensive aromatic flavour reminiscent to camphor and licorice (see there for a fuller account on sweet herbs and spices). Consume of this plant is not without risk, due to the high camphor content.

Lippia citriodora: Flowering lemon verbena twig
Flowering lemon verbena twig
Lippia citriodora: Lemon verbena flower
Close-up to lemon verbena flower
Lippia citriodora: Lemon verbena in flower
Lemon verbena in flower

Another species, Lippia adoensis, is native to East Africa; its sweet aroma is domi­nated by linalool. It is used as a culinary spice in Ethiopia, where it is known by the Amharic name koseret [ኮሰርት]. Being unavail­able outside of Africa, it is usually substituted by linalool-rich basil cultivars (Medi­terranean type).


The name vervaine goes back to a Latin noun verbena leafy branch. About the species name, citri­odorus, see lemon myrtle.

The obsolescent species name triphyllus with three leaves refers to the arrangement of the leaves on the stem: At each node, three leaves are formed (Greek treis [τρεῖς] three and phyllon [φύλλον] leaf). The latter derives from an Proto-Indo–European root BʰEL thrive, bloom derivatives of which designate flat objects in many languages (Latin folium, French feuille, English foil). Also, flower (Latin flos, Italian fiore) and bloom (German Blüte, Swedish blomma) and even blood derive from that root.

The genus name Aloysia, now also obsolescent, was given in honour of Maria Luisa Teresa de Parma (1751–1819), wife of king Carlos IV of Spain. Some foreign names of lemon verbena contain an element referring to Louise, e. g. Spanish hierba luisa herb of Luisa, Slovak alojzia citrónová lemon Luisa, Greek louiza [λουΐζα] and Hebrew luiza [לואיזה].

Selected Links Citral

Lippia citriodora: Flowering branch of lemon verbena
Flowering branch of lemon verbena
Lippia citriodora: Lemon verbena
Lemon verbena plant
The flavour of lemon verbena is very pure and fresh — in fact, of the many lemon-scented plants, only lemon myrtle comes close; yet lemon verbena is less intense than lemon myrtle.

Only 100 years ago, lemon verbena was a common ornamental in European gardens, but today it is rarely planted. The herb’s culinary merits have also fallen into ob­livion; to be fair, how­ever, it should be stres­sed that lemon verbena has never been an important herb in European cookery.

Like many other lemon-scented spices, lemon ver­bena is often sug­gest­ed to fla­vour fish stews and soups; it is also good with poul­try. Its main ap­pli­ca­tion, how­ever, is the fla­vour­ing of sweets, des­serts and drinks.

Lemon ver­bena, like lemon balm (which it sur­passes by far), has a strong affinity to fresh fruits: The subtle lemon flavour nicely emphasizes and reinforces the fruit’s natural aroma. Thus, lemon verbena can be used to give fruit salads an unusual touch, or a chopped leaves can be sprinkled over a fruit bowl, or freshly prepared fruit juice can be garnished with one or two leaves of lemon verbena. Other applications include fruits sorbet or any processed dessert based on fruits, e. g., ice cream (see vanilla).

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