Scientific Name: Aloysia triphylla
Lemon verbena is a half-hardy, deciduous perennial shrub that can grow up to 2m. It bears clusters of tiny white flowers in summer and has pale-green lance-shaped leaves that are highly fragrant, exuding an aroma of lemon even when only lightly touched. It needs full sun and well-drained soil. Prune back in spring and remove dead wood. In very cold areas it will not grow very big and new growth can appear very late. Lemon verbena grows well in containers.
Lemon verbena is native to South America and was introduced to Europe by the Spanish in the seventeenth century. Today it is cultivated all over the world in temperate climates as an aromatic, ornamental plant, as well as for its leaves — which are used as a popular herbal tea.
Harvest and parts used
The leaves and flowers. Gather the leaves when the flowers appear on the stalks. It can be used fresh as required or dried and stored in a dark glass jar and will keep its flavour for at least 3 years.
Young, finely chopped fresh Lemon verbena leaves can be used to give any dish a lemony taste. Use fresh in fruit salads, punches and fruit cups. Sprinkle over fruit or vegetable salads, or mix in herb butters and cottage cheese. Make a refreshing tea with Lemon verbena, on its own, or mixed with mint and/or any other herb — it tastes good, warm or cold. If you are not allowed to use salt in your diet, you can do the following: dry Lemon verbena leaves & grind them. Mix them with dried ground celery, lovage, winter savoury, parsley, and thyme leaves. Lemon verbena leaves can be infused in oils and vinegars which will add an extra dimension to your cooking.
Lemon verbena is an astringent, aromatic herb that is rich in volatile oils. It has calming and digestive properties. It is taken internally to reduces feverish colds, soothes bronchial and nasal congestion, relieves spasms, nausea, palpitations and soothes abdominal discomfort. Lemon verbena is a gentle sedative and tonic for the nervous system and helps to encounter depression.
Macerate Lemon verbena leaf in almond oil for a massage. To reduce puffiness around the eyes, make an infusion with the leaves and allow to cool. Soak cotton wool in the infusion and place over the closed eyes for 15 minutes. The infusion can be added to the bath as well. Prepare a floral vinegar with the flowers and use to soften and freshen your skin.
Use dried Lemon verbena leaves in potpourri, linen sachets and in herb pillows. The dried leaves will retain their oil content for up to 2-3 years. Place a few dried leaves in your vacuum cleaner bag before you vacuum, and the house will smell nice afterwards.
I would like to recommend the following method of the herbal tea infusion:
1 tsp dried herbs or 3 tsp fresh herb. 1 cup boiling water
Place the herb in a container with a lid. Pour the boiling (just of the boil) water over the herb. Cover and stand for 5-10 minutes. Strain. Add sugar or honey if necessary. Use as a drink, taking 1 cup daily hot or cold (per advice of the doctor or herbalist).
Make enough for one day only. Do not stand overnight to use the next day. This method of making an infusion can be used to make a tea from the aerial parts of a herb (leaf; flower; stem) or a mixture of these, but not when using the roots of a herb.