Useful information

Lemon sorghum - aromatic cereals from time immemorial

Genus cymbopogon (Cymbopogon) has, according to different authors, from 55 to 70 species. Some of its representatives are very aromatic and serve as raw materials for obtaining essential oils. You have probably heard such fascinating names as palmarosa, citronella, backgammon. Behind them are representatives of this rather numerous genus, from the above-ground mass of which aromatic substances are obtained.

 

Lemon sorghum

 

When analyzing information on the Internet, confusion is noticeable in the concept of lemongrass, not to mention the fact that in some aromatherapy manuals and sites in Russian it is generally called lemongrass! The error probably stems from the fact that, regardless of the Latin names, the text is translated with the help of computer translators, which the English name lemongrass translated as lemongrass. And the second confusion arises from the fact that under this name there are two types on sale. The first is actually lemongrass, or West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogoncitratus, syn. Andropogoncitratus DC.) - the most common cultivated species of numerous aromatic cereals.

Lemon herb

This is due to two reasons - firstly, it is widely used as a food plant in Asian cuisine, and secondly, essential oil is obtained from it in large volumes, which serves as a flavoring agent in the food industry and a raw material for the synthesis of other aromatic substances. This plant is well known, in particular, to tea growers.

Malabar herb

Under the name lemongrass, they use another, but closely related species of cymbopogon sinuous (Cymbopogonflexuosus Stapf syn. Andropogon flexuosus Nees; A. nardus subsp. flexuosus Hack.). It is called Cochin or Malabar herb or East Indian lemon grass, and it comes from India. To a lesser extent, it has a perfumery value and to a greater extent - a medicinal one, in addition, it is grown as a spicy-flavoring plant. The essential oil contains about 80% citral and very little myrcene. In European countries, it has become fashionable for the summer to plant it in spicy gardens in the open ground or in containers to take it outside.

Botanical portraits

Lemon sorghum, or lemon grass (Cymbopogoncitratus) - a typical perennial cereal plant with a height of about 1-1.8 m. It has a short tuberous rhizome, thin stems, collected in a powerful semi-spreading bush. The leaves are narrow, long, pale green, with a reddish tint. The panicle is loose, underdeveloped and, accordingly, seeds are absent. Therefore, in culture, it is propagated only vegetatively, that is, by division.

Lemongrass is not known in the wild, and given that it has been in culture for more than one century and even a millennium, its homeland can be determined very approximately. Presumably, it could be India or Sri Lanka. Many centuries ago, dried leaves were transported in bales on camels to Arab countries and even Europe, where they were willingly used to flavor beer and wine.

Currently, it is very widely grown all over the world: in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Seychelles, China and South Africa.

Indian lemongrass, or Malabar grass (Cymbopogonflexuosus), occurs in two forms - white-stemmed and red-stemmed. The latter has a more pleasant aroma and its essential oil is valued higher. This type of seed forms.

 

Malabar herb in a vegetable garden

 

Usage

Leaves of both types are used for stuffing mattresses, in which the likelihood of all kinds of insects is very small. This is due to the insecticidal effect of plants. In the tropics, it is customary to plant them around houses to scare away mosquitoes. In tropical Africa, lemongrass is recommended to be planted in areas where the tsetse fly, which does not tolerate its smell, is recommended.

The name itself suggests that it is a member of the cereal family and has a lemon scent. The essential oil gives the plant a wonderful lemon scent. The content of essential oil in lemon sorghum is 0.2-0.5%, and it consists mainly of citral, which includes a mixture of two isomers - trans-geranial (40-62%) and cis - geranial (25-38%). Other terpenoids include nerol, limonene, linalool, and caryophyllene.The essential oil contains a significant amount of myrcene, which is easily oxidized during storage, which reduces the quality of the oil.

The essential oil of Malabar herb contains, on the contrary, more alcohols - 20-30% geraniol and citronellol, then aldehydes (15% geranial, 10% neral, 5% citronellal). This type is more often used in perfumery, as it contains less myrcene and the essential oil is better stored.

The oil is obtained in very large quantities in China and some other countries, it has a brown color and a strong herbaceous-lemon odor. It is used to isolate individual components, as well as to counterfeit more expensive citrus oils.

Recipes from time immemorial

 

In Indian medicine, cymbopogon has long been used for viral infections and even cholera. Lemongrass oil has long been used in traditional medicine to treat fungal infections of the skin, mouth, urinary tract and gynecological infections in Asian countries, especially India. Indian lemon sorghum was used externally in the form of ointments, infusions, oil infusions for rubbing and compresses for neuralgia, rheumatism, sprains.

The question arises, how justified is such a widespread use of the plant in medicine? Currently, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, deodorizing, gastric and insecticidal action has been confirmed.

There is quite a lot of research on antimicrobial activity. During laboratory studies, a high activity of essential oil against the causative agent of thrush was found, including strains that are difficult to treat with modern medicines, as well as some types of molds, in particular, from the genus Penicillum, capable of releasing mycotoxins - very harmful substances that accumulate in "Moldy" products, the effect was especially high in combination with eugenol basil oil. In the long term, such essential oil blends can be used to prevent food spoilage. The essential oil of Indian sorghum showed high activity against Staphylococcus aureus, including against strains resistant to a number of antibiotics.

The anti-inflammatory properties are due to the presence of flavonoids, primarily luteolin derivatives, and its use in inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract is quite justified. However, with a strong anti-inflammatory effect, including when applied externally, an analgesic effect, such as in clove oil, was not observed. Due to its antioxidant effect, lemon sorghum extract had a hepatoprotective effect, especially when taken prophylactically.

At home, dry and fresh herb can be used for colds, dyspepsia, colitis. The infusion of the plant stimulates milk production in nursing mothers.

For cooking infusion 1 tablespoon of crushed raw materials is poured with a glass of boiling water and used both for inhalation and inside. The essential oil has a tonic effect on the skin and tissues, therefore it is recommended for external use in the form of massage oil mixed with peach or olive oils. By the way, it is one of the most inexpensive. In lotions and creams, it is used for oily skin, open pores, dermatomycosis of the feet.

Contraindications: Essential oil requires careful use and prior consultation with an aromatherapist. For some, undiluted essential oil can irritate the skin, and the plant itself, when in contact with some particularly sensitive individuals (with an allergy to citral), can cause allergic reactions.

 

On the kitchen…

 

In Asian cuisine, it is added to mixtures of curries, sauces, marinades, gravies for meat, fish and seafood.The bottom of the leaf rosette is boiled and used as a side dish, and the crushed dried leaves can be added to regular black or green tea to taste. Interestingly, this tea is very tasty even when cold and perfectly quenches thirst on a hot summer day.

 

How vegetables are used at the bottom of the rosettes

 

... and in a pot

 

The most amazing thing is that you can buy this lemongrass in a regular grocery store, choose a rosette with more or less preserved roots and plant it. It is better to pre-treat the lower part of the rosette with the remnants of the roots with a root formation stimulator (Kornevin, Heteroauxin, Epin-extra), as indicated for other ornamental crops similar in biology, and plant it in a pot with loose and fertile soil.

Indian Lemongrass seeds are available for purchase. The plant prefers a well-lit windowsill. The soil is preferable loose, from slightly acidic to neutral. After that, before rooting, the plants need to be watered, preventing prolonged drying out of the soil. After the plant takes root, its drought tolerance will increase. The plant can withstand short-term drying out, but not for long. At the same time, its appearance suffers greatly.

In the spring, plants must be fed with complex fertilizers. In the summer you can take a walk. In European countries, it is generally planted in the ground after the danger of frost has passed, like an annual. But, of course, mother plants are always left, which are overexposed in the greenhouse or on the windowsill.

In this pot, the plant can grow for a long time, but it is better to divide the bushes once every 2 years and plant them in new fresh soil in separate pots. Leaves are cut as needed - for the kitchen and for the diseases listed above.

But lemongrass does not always get along with other plants in the same pot and even nearby. Modern research has revealed its ability to inhibit seed germination and inhibit the growth and development of some plants.