Cymbopogon citratus

PLANT NAME: Cymbopogon citratus (R. Br.) A. Camus.

COMMON NAMES: Wäpine, läpine, lükini [Hawai’i]; xiang mao, xiang ma, mao ju ma, yun xiang cao [China]; lemongrass, west indian lemongrass (C. citratus); east indian lemongrass (C. flexuous) [USA]; fever grass [Carribean]; moegalo [Samoa]; moengalo [Tonga]; yerba de limón, zacate de limón [Costa Rica]; calmarosa, palmarosa (C. martini), citronella (C. nardus); ilintji, kalpalpi (C. ambiguus) [Australian Aboriginals]; tanglad (C. citratus) [Phillipines]; yerba luisa [Amazonia]; suyuis, qulla waji [Aymara]; jampi ali, jich’u suqus [Quechua]; capiicati [Chiriguano]; pirhegans [Nepal].

RANGE: It is cultivated in China, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Central Africa, Madagascar and Hawai’i. Native to Australia.

 FAMILY: Poaceae (Grass family).

TOXICITY: None noted for the herb.

CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS: NOT IN PREGNANCY. Caution with low blood pressure. Essential oil (“eo”) can cause skin reaction, never put full strength essential oil directly on the skin. Always dilute well with a carrier oil for topical use.
Do not use Citronella (C. nardus) internally.


  • Essential oil is used as an excellent alternative to those foul smelling “air fresheners” so pervasive in American automobiles.

  • In some places the lemongrass rhizome is used as a toothbrush.

  • One of our few Hawaiian plants that falls into the Chinese “warm acrid release the exterior” category, wäpine is a safe, useful and tasty diaphoretic and antihypertensive.