Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf., 1906

Species:C. citratus
Common Names:Lemon Grass, Citronella Grass, West Indian Lemon Grass, Serai, Serai Makan


The culms are densely clumped and leafy at the base. The aerial stem, 150-200 cm tall, only develops when the plant flowers, but it rarely does so. The leaves are linear-acuminate, 60-90 x 1-2 cm, with a ligule 2 mm deep. The leaf sheaths on non-flowering stems are tightly overlapping, forming a pseudostem of 12-25 x 1-2 cm towards the base. The inflorescence is a panicle with drooping branches that again branch. The ultimate branches are more or less zig-zag. The spikelets are in pairs, one sessile and the other stalked

Read more about the Poales order.
Read more about the Poaceae family.


Native to Southeast Asia, it is known only in cultivation, rarely flowering.

Locality Map

Human Uses

Known only in cultivation, it is grown as a flavouring for food and the extraction of the essential oil, West Indian Lemon Grass Oil. Other than the West Indies, the oil is produced in many tropical American, Asian and African countries. An important essential oil, it is used in cosmetics, detergents, soaps and a number of food items.


Duistermaat, H., 2005. Field guide to the grasses of Singapore (Excluding the bamboos). Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore Supplement 57. 176 pp. 

Gilliland, H. B., 1971. A revised floras of Malaya. Vol. III Grasses of Malaya. Botanic Gardens Singapore. 319 pp.

Henderson, M. R., 1954. Malayan wild flowers - Monocotyledons. Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 357 pp.

Keng, H., S. C. Chin & H. T. W. Tan, 1990. The concise flora of Singapore Vol. II: Monocotyledons. Singapore University Press & National Parks Board. 215 pp.

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