Botanical Name: Aloysia triphylla
- English: Lemon-scented verbena
- Also, known as Luiza, Verbena, Nihng mung mah bin chou, Ning meng ma bian cao, Jernurt, Citroenverbena, Sidrunaloisia, Beh limou, Lippia, Verveine citronnelle, Verveine odorante, Herba Luisa, Zitronenverbene, Louïza, Verbena, Lipia limonit, Luisa, Citrom verbena, Cedron, Remonbabena, Remon beobena, Remon bobena, Remon-beobena, Citrininė aloyzija, Verbena limonnaya, Limun verbena, Cedron, Hierbaluisa, Sporýš, Lippia trójlistna, Limonete, Citronka, and Tsitrin-lippie
Harvested: Wild or cultivated
Parts Used: Leaves
Aloysia triphylla is named after Maria Louisa (Aloysia is thought to be a derivative of Louisa) the princess of Parma and wife of King Carlos IV King of Spain. Triphylla refers to the placement of the leaves (phylla) which are arranged in whorls of three (tri). Lemon Verbena plants were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers in the 17th century from Argentina and Chile. There it was grown for its fabulous lemony oil that was used in perfume and cosmetics until cheaper Lemon Grass oil replaced it. Because Lemon Verbena leaves keep their scent well when dried they were popular with the Victorians as an ingredient in their endless making of potpourri. Lemon Verbena flowers are small, white, single and inconspicuous. Their airy feel is an elegant crowning point for the open form of the plant. Lippia triphylla, Lippia citriodora, Aloysia citriodora, Verveine citronelle or odorante, Herb Louisa, lemon-scented verbena, Verbena triphylla, and Lippia triphylla; Lemon Verbena has had many names in the past but no matter what it is called its flavour and fragrance of lemon is second to no other lemony herb. The flavour of Lemon Verbena is reminiscent of lemon candy, sweet with strong lemon and no sourness. It is a woody shrub that produces shiny lanceolate green leaves (to 3-4” long) that have a strong aroma (without crushing) and taste of lemon. Leaves are opposite or in whorls of three (hence the specific epithet). Plants will grow to 10-15’ tall in the tropics, but to 2-4’ tall in containers. Fragrant, white to pale lilac flowers bloom from mid-summer to early fall but have little ornamental significance. The bush grows to a height of about 6–10 feet (2–3 meters), has strong, lemon-scented, green leaves and clusters of aromatics, small, white or purple flowers that have a tiny yellow dot in the center. When touched, the flower releases a refreshing fragrance.
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 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 leaf can be sprinkled over a fruit bowl, or freshly prepared fruit juice can be garnished with one or two leaves of lemon verbena.
To make a simple Lemon Verbena oil for marinades or salads, combine one cup of fresh Lemon Verbena leaf with 1/2 cup grapeseed oil in a blender. Blend on high for at least 2 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for an hour or two. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Use immediately or refrigerate. Lemon Verbena oil keeps about a week in the refrigerator, so it is better to make small batches often.
How to use:
The basic method for dried herbs and flower is, take 2-3 tablespoons of dried herb in a cup or teapot. Pour hot water over it and cover it with lid for 10-30 minutes. Hot water is needed to draw out the antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, flavonoids, and volatile oils from the botanicals. Strain and squeeze out as much as liquid as possible and enjoy it!
- You can sweeten your herbal tea with a bit of honey, natural fruit juice, stevia leaves powder and or licorice root powder.
- You can make ice cubes or pops by freezing tea in ice trays or pop molds.