Lemon-scented verbena (Lippia citriodora; Verbenaceae)

Description

A tender, shrubby plant, to 4ft (120 cm), although 10-15 ft (3-5 metres) in its native Chile. Hardy in the West country outdoors. Shining, long-pointed, narrow leaves with lilac flowers in fluffy clusters in August. Introduced 1784.

Uses

Strongly lemon flavoured leaves used in cooking and for tea, much drunk in Spain. Helps to ease troubles in the respiratory tract, as well as being pleasantly flavoured. Also added to pot-pourri.

History

Formerly known as Aloysia citriodora, it is often confused with vervain, Verbena officinalis, also called verbena. This is a totally different plant with a slightly bitter flavour, native to this country and considered a sacred plant by the Druids. The roots were recommended to be worn as a charm for use against scrofula, as late as 1837.

Cultivation

Grow from tip cuttings taken in spring, rooted

under glass in warmth. Pot on as required and, after hardening off, plant out in late May—June in a sunny sheltered place, and dryish, rather poor soil. Mulch heavily for winter, or lift and pot up in autumn for indoor growth, cutting it back by about half.

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