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Family Poaceae
Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt.
Cymbopogon nardus

Zhao wa xiang mao

Scientific names Common names
Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt. Citronella (Engl.)
  Citronella grass (Engl.)
  Zhao wa xiang mao (Chin.)

Gen info
The species C. winterianus Jowitt is believed to have originated from Cymbopogon nardus, type Maha Pengiri, referred to as Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) commercial citronella. C. winterianus was named after Winter, who raised it as a separate species in the 19th century, subsequently introduced in Indonesia to become commericlally known as Javanese citronella, eventually making it to India for commercial cultivation in 1959. source
Citronella oil is a steam distillation product of the fresh or partially dried leaves from citronella grass (C. nardus, producing "Ceylon-type" citronella oil) or Java citronella grass (C. winterianus Jowitt, producing "Java-type" citronella oil)

Plant is a perennial, shallowly rooted rhizome. Culms are tufted, robust, up to 2 m tall. Leaf sheaths are glabrous, reddish inside; leaf blades relatively thin, drooping 2/3 of their length, 40-80 cm tall, 1.5 to 2.5 cm wide, abaxial surface glaucous, adaxial surface light green, margins scabrid, base narrow, apex long acuminate. Spathate compound panicle large, lax, up to 50 cm. Sessile spikelets are elliptic-lanceolate; lower glume, flat or slightly concave, 2-keeled, 3-veined between keels.

Recently introduced.
Cultivated in the Baguio area.

Phytochemical analysis of essential oil yielded geraniol (40.06%), citronellal (27.44%)and citronellol (10.45%) as the main constituents.
Both Ceylon- and Java-type citronella oils contain over 80 constituents, primarily monoterpene compounds and minor amounts of sesquiterpenes.
Main constituents of the Ceylon oil is citronellal and citronellol. Ceylon oil contains lower concentrations of citronellal and citronellol and higher concentrations of isomethyleugenol compared to the Java-type citronella oil.

The citronella oil from steam distillation considered rubifacient, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, sedating, analgesic

Parts used and preparation


No recorded folkloric use in the Philippines.
Elsewhere, used for hypertension.
In Brazilian folk medicine, used for anxiolytic, analgesic and anticonvulsant properties.
Mosquito Repellant / Fumigant: Citronella oil and candles commercially popular as traditional mosquito repellants and household fumigants.
Food Flavoring: Citronella oil also used as food flavoring agent, in beverages, baked goods, cereals, candies, dairy products, gelatins and puddings.
Veterinary: Oil also a component of veterinary deterrent product for dogs seeking to mate.
Aromatherapy: Also used in aromatherapy.

Essential Oil / Anti-Candidal:
Essential oils and ethanol extracts from the leaves and roots of 35 medicinal plants commonly used in Brazil were screened for anti-Candida activity. The essential oils of 13 plants, including C. winterianus, showed anti-Candida activity.
Cardiovascular Effects: Study showed the essential oil of C. winterianus induced hypotensive and vasorelaxant effects probably mediated through Ca-channel blocking. Higher doses were noted to induce transient bradycardia and arrhythmias from cardiac muscarinic activation secondary to a vagal discharge.
Anticonvulsant / Essential Oil Analysis: Phytochemical analysis of essential oil yielded geraniol, citronellal and citronellol. Study showed a possible anticonvulsant activity of the essential oil.

Safety concerns
GRAS: In the U.S., citronella is listed as GRAS, generally recognized as safe.

In Europe, Java type citronella is Category 1 (not considered a safety concern at levels consumed), while Ceylon-type is a Category 3 (items with safety concern associated with the active ingredient), because of the presence of isomethyleugenol.

Citronella oil, commercially and in the cybermarkets.

June 2010

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Flora of China / FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 22 | Poaceae | Cymbopogon
Anti-Candida activity of Brazilian medicinal plants / Maria Cristina Teixeira Duarte et al /
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 97, Issue 2, 28 February 2005, Pages 305-311 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.11.016
Cardiovascular effects induced by Cymbopogon winterianus essential oil in rats: involvement of calcium channels and vagal pathway / Igor Alexander Cortes de Menezes, Italo Jose Alves Moreira et al / Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Volume 62 Issue 2, Pages 215 - 221 / Published Online: 19 Mar 2010 / DOI 10.1211/jpp.62.02.0009
Phythochemical screening and anticonvulsant activity of Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt (Poaceae) leaf essential oil in rodents / L.J. Quintans-Junior, T.T. Souzaa et al / FreeLibrary
Phenotypic and RAPD diversity among Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt accessions in relation to Cymbopogon nardus Rendle / A K Shasany, R K Lal et al / Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, Vol 47, Number 5 / October, 2000 / DOI 10.1023/A:1008712604390
Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Plants, and Venomous Animals / By Donald G. Barceloux / Google Books

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