Remember the last Dumpling Festival? Did your mother or grandmother hang a pair of small bundle of sweet-scented grass in the morning on top of the door? Did they claim that the grass has the power to dispel evil when you use the water boiled with the leave for bathing? Did you remember the distinct, unmistakable lemon-like fragrance that left you feeling very invigorated? That leaf is none other than Citronnelle.

Description of Citronnelle

Like lemongrass and rosemary, citronnelle also belongs to the grass family, which is rich in essential oil. Citronnelle originates in India, belonging to the sweet-scented grass family there. These are about 40 different species of citronnelle; each contains high fibre and citral. It is a perennial herb widely cultivated in the tropics and sub-tropics. Its long narrow leaves are much like that of the wheat grass, and are easily mistaken for weeds. To differentiate between citronnelle leaves and weeds, just pluck a section of the leaf and rub it between the fingers. If it is a citronnelle that you have plucked, the distinctive lemon-like fragrance will immediately invigorate you. Although there are many different species of citronnelle, they all grow high and tall, reaching to a height of about 1.2m to 1.5m. Wild citronnelle can be found in highlands, while cultivated citronnelle is found along the coastal regions. Since the plant rarely flowers or yield seeds, propagation is by the roots or plant division. The leaves of the plant can be harvested when they reach 8 months old. The plant grows well in warm, humid climate, and this is exactly what Taiwan has to offer. The most popular species that is cultivated in Taiwan actually originated from Sri Lanka, New Guinea and Guyana.

Origins of Citronnelle

During the period of Taiwans reconstruction, Taiwan was very reliant on the natural resources that are widely found on this island. At that time, citronnelle was found growing wildly around the Xinzhu and Miaoli regions. Taiwan became the number one producer of citronnelle essential oil extracted from these wild plants. But, as chemically derived fragrances get more and more popular with consumers, the demand for pure citronnelle essential oil fell drastically. Presently, some 40 to 50 years later, even the younger generations do not know what citronnelle is! Fortunately, as the world progresses, many different cuisines started to be introduced to people worldwide. Our younger generations were re-introduced to citronnelle through the sourish, spicy Asian cuisine which uses a lot of citronnelle, especially in their seafood soup, sauces, curry and even desserts. Citronnelle not only provides us with essential oil, its long leaves could also be boiled to obtain scented water for a long refreshing bath. It could also be boiled with mint leaves to provide a pot of invigorating drink.

Effectiveness of Citronnelle

The citronnelle essential oil is extracted from its leaves through the process of steam distillation, and the colour of its oil range from amber yellow to dark brown, with a very distinct and strong lemon scent. According to ancient Chinese medicinal records, citronnelle helps to stop nausea and alleviate heart pains. Bathing with water boiled with citronnelle leaves helps to emanate an ethereal fragrance. According to records, citronnelle helps in indigestion, strengthens the stomach, eases muscle tension, nourishes the skin and beautifies the complexion. With such excellent benefits, Bel'Air is proud to bring you the citronnelle essential oil to give you the ultimate relaxation so that you can enjoy a better nights sleep.


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