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[edit] Provenance and description

Verbena is also known as Herb Louisa, lemon scented verbena amd also as Lippia citriodora, Aloysia citriodora, Lippia triphylla, Verveine citronelle or odorante, Verbena triphylla, and Lippia triphylla.

Verbena or lemon scented verbena, should to be confused with Vervain or Verbena Officinalis. Lemon scented verbena is native to South America and was introduced to Europe by the Spanish.

Verbena belongs to the family Verbenaceae and is a genus that contains a large number of garden flowers numbering almost 250 species. Almost all of these are natives of the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. The USA is home to about 20 of these species.

Lemon Verbena was cultivated commercially in Europe for its lemon scented essential oil. This was widespread until it was replaced by the cheaper alternative extracted from Lemon Grass. Oil of Lemon Verbena was used in the manufacture of perfumes and drinks.

The latin name Aloysia citriodora or triphylla was given in honour of Maria Louisa the princess of Parma and wife of King Carlos IV King of Spain.

[edit] Culinary Uses

Since lemon goes especially well with fish and seafood dishes, combining verbena and fish is obvious. It is used to add fragrance to fish stews and soups and it is also good with poultry. It maybe used in almost all preparations where the use of lemon zest is recommended, though it does have a much more complex, almost flowery flavour.

Lemon Verbena is most commonly used to flavour sweets, desserts and drinks.

Like lemon balm, which is less strong, lemon verbena marries very well with all manner of fresh fruit. Since lemon verbena has a flowery- fruity-lemon flavour, it blends very well with most natural fruit aromas. It can be used to add piquancy to fruit salads, or it can be used as a garnish for freshly made fruit juice. It is also excellent in fruits sorbet, ice creams and in lemonade.

The leaves of the lemon verbena can also be added to and baked in cake batter and cookie dough. It adds an interesting and unusual flavour to these preparations. To use in baked goods, the leaves should be cleaned, washed and wiped dry. They should then be processed with the sugar to be used in the recipe.

Lemon scented herb vinegar may be made by adding the leaves to white vinegar and leaving them to steep and absorb flavour.

Dried and powdered verbena leaves make an excellent rub for meat and may be used in marinades and stuffings for both meats and fish to impart a delicate flavour.

[edit] Therapeutic Usage

The therapeutic uses of Lemon Verbena are very similiar to those of mint, orange flowers, and Melissa or Lemon Balm.

Lemon Verbena contains several phytochemicals including Neral, Geranial, Limonene, Nerol, Geraniol, Terpineol, Caryophyllene, Curcumene, Isovalerianic acid, Eupafolin, Hispidulin, Eupatorin, Salvigenin, Apigenin and Luteolin.

Phytochemicals are plant chemicals that are non-nutritional. They are useful in the prevention of disease in plants as well as in humans. Common phytochemicals include lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soya and alyll sulphides in onions, leeks and garlic. These compounds are largely responsible for Verbena's therapeutic benefits.

[edit] Internal use

Lemon verbena tea made by infusing the leaves in hot water is reputed to be effective as a strengthener for the nervous system, as an antidote to stress and as a digestive tonic with anti-flatulent effect.It is also used to treat diarrhoea. Verbena infusion helps bring down body temperature in fevers, helps treat colds and acts as a respiratory expectorant. Traditional medicine uses it as a cure for asthma as well. The tea also acts as relaxant and sedative, regulates the menstrual cycle and lessens PMS symptoms.

Lemon verbena essential oil also has similiar effects. It is inhaled to treat stress, insomnia, depression and to ease asthmatic attacks.

[edit] External Use

Lemon verbena oil helps break down cellulite, can be applied to cold sores, acne, boils and cysts as an anti-bacterial agent and can be applied to the skin to keep it healthy.

[edit] Use in Aromatherapy

Lemon verbena essential oil is alo used in aromatherapy as a relaxant and destresser, an appetite enhancer, and to regulate the digestion.

The essential oil has a beneficial effect on the liver and repairs damage to the organ.As a result, it is useful in the treatment of alcoholics. It is also used in cases to sinusitis and congestion of the rest of the respiratory tract.

It also reduces facial puffiness and is good for the hair.

Lemon verbena generally is recognized as safe for human consumption.

[edit] Other Uses

Lemon verbena makes an excellent potpourri.

[edit] Cultivation

  • Site

It needs the full sun and shelter in an almost frost free position

  • Soil

Light, well drained and alkaline. Poor soil produces stronger plants able to survive cold winters

  • Propagating

It should be sown in spring and the cuttings should be taken in late spring

  • Growing

Thin or transplant to 3 feet apart. Prune drooping branches to encourage new growth. Grow lemon verbena indoors in winter, though it may drop its leaves. Prune and spray with warm water in spring to revive the plant.

  • Harvesting

Pick leaves aytime but best when flowers begin to bloom.

  • Preserving

Dry the leaves and use fresh leaves to flavour oil and vinegar.

[edit] Interesting sites

Mrs. Meyers Aromatherapeutic Household Cleansers sells home cleaning products made with Verbena essential oil

[edit] References

  • Larousse Gastronomique
  • The Book of Ingredients: Philip Dowell and Adrian Bailey; Penguin/ Mermaid Books 1993
  • The Complete Book of Herbs; A practical guide to growing and using herbs: Lesley Bremness: Dorling Kindersley 1988
  • Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Verbena, Lemon
  • Lemon Verbena: aromatic oil, sedative
  • Mountain Valley Growers
  • Herbal remedies using Lemon verbena
  • Using and Growing Lemon Verbena
  • Healing Properties of Lemon Verbena
  • Aloysia tiphylla