East-Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus (Nees ex Steud.) W. Watson) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Poaceae family.
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Liliopsida Class, Poales Order, Poaceae Family, Panicoideae Subfamily, and therefore to the Cymbopogon Genus and to the C. flexuosus Species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Andropogon ampliflorus Steud .;
– Andropogon flexuosus Nees ex Steud .;
– Andropogon nardus flexuosus (Nees ex Steud.) Hack .;
– Cymbopogon travancorensis Bor.
The term Cymbopogon comes from the Greek κύμβη cýmbe cup, cup, boat and πώγων pógon barba: reference to the arrangement of the hairy-looking cobs.
The specific flexuosus epithet comes from flécto bend: supple, full of curves, tortuous.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Cymbopogon flexuosus is a plant originating from an area that includes East Asia and Western China, with distribution in southwestern China, India, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand.
Its habitat is that of grassy slopes less than 1,000 meters, in southern China, in fields, roadsides, mixed deciduous forests, often on limestone, at altitudes between 100 and 2,200 meters.
Cymbopogon flexuosus is a perennial, aromatic and evergreen herbaceous plant.
The plant consists of tufts with numerous erect stems up to 3 meters high which tend to flex in the terminal part.
It has a short and thick rhizome.
The leaves are simple, bluish-green in color, with entire margins and linear in shape and with evident parallel veins.
The plant rarely blooms.
East Indian lemongrass is a plant of tropical and subtropical areas of humid lowlands. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are between 22 and 30 ° C, but can tolerate 13 – 34 ° C.
It does not tolerate temperatures of 5 ° C or lower.
It prefers an average annual rainfall of between 1,500 and 3,000 mm, but tolerates 700 – 4,100 mm.
In areas with a cool season, the plant can dry out but become perennial through its rhizomes; resuming growth with the return of summer.
For its cultivation it should be placed in soils that retain humidity and in full sun; the soil must be well drained, preferring a fertile and sandy soil. Plants tolerate moderately saline soils and prefer a pH between 5 and 5.5, tolerating 4.5 – 6.
Propagation can occur by seed; in this technique, sowing is carried out in the open field or in the nursery with subsequent transplantation. With direct sowing, however, there are difficulties in eliminating weeds.
It can also propagate by division of the tufts, with an operation that must be performed every year even if it is more problematic as an operation.
After planting, the first harvest can be done about 90 – 120 days after sowing, and then every 40 – 55 days for about 6 years.
The average yield is about 20 – 40 kg oil per hectare per hectare.
Foliage yield is greatest on heavy fertile soils, but under these conditions the oil usually has a lower citral content.
The annual yields of the selected cultivars can be 250 kg per hectare.
In commercial production only a few selected plants can be used until flowering for seed production because abundant flowering before cutting substantially reduces oil yield.
The main cultivars are:
– I cauvery;
Customs and Traditions –
Cymbopogon flexuosus is also called Cochin grass, East Indian lemongrass or Malabar grass.
An essential oil is obtained from the plant which is highly aromatic with a lemon-like aroma and flavor. It is often used by the food industry as a flavoring in foods such as ice cream, baked goods, oils, candies, chewing gum, etc.
The dried leaves are often used as aromatic herbal teas.
Lemongrass must be stored separately from other foods, or it must be well wrapped, otherwise its strong scent will contaminate other foods.
No particular medicinal uses are known but it is assumed that they are similar to those of Cymbopogon citratus.
Other uses include agroforestry.
Rows of lemongrass plants can be used as a divider in gardens – this barrier can help contain more invasive plants like sweet potato and also as a barrier to prevent weed growth in vegetable gardens.
The plant is also used to control soil erosion.
The extracted oil is a yellow or amber liquid, slightly viscous, with a strong, sweet, fresh herbaceous, citric and lemon-like, herbaceous or tea-like odor. The essential oil is produced by steam distillation of freshly cut leaves, or it can be extracted using alcohol.
The main chemical constituent of the oil is citral, which is a mixture of geranium (50%) and neral (30%) stereoisomers; minor components include limonene, linalool, geraniol and myrcene.
Cymbopogon flexuosus essential oil is said to have antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer effects. Studies have shown that C. flexuosus essential oil significantly suppresses HSP90 gene expression (a heat shock protein with a molecular weight of approximately 90 kDa). The cytotoxicity of the compounds was tested by MTT assay and gene expression studies were conducted using HEK-293 and MCF-7 cells.
Preparation Method –
The food uses of this plant are similar to those of Cymbopogon citratus.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.