Much like lemon myrtle, these leaves are high in citronella and pack a lemony punch. We have a bunch hanging upside down that helps keep the mozzies away and keeps the house smelling divine, and use it in teas and in cooking, just ripping a few leaves off as needed. I love to add five leaves to my batches of bone broth.
Lemon Scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora) is a beautiful tall tree, growing up to 35 metres, which flourishes from temperate and tropical north eastern Australia. It has distinctive, often powdery white to grey coloured bark which curls and flakes off in Spring. Its strong scent is a distinguishing attribute, with the essential oils produced from this variety often being used in fragrances as well as insect repellents.
◎ Common Name: Lemon Scented Gum, Blue Spotted Gum, Lemon Eucalyptus
◎ Scientific or Latin Name: Corymbia citriodora
◎ Comparison: Lemon
◎ Seasonality: All year dried
◎ Region: Rainforest
◎ Taste Profile: It has strong lemon flavour when used in cooking, and as a tea it has an unmistakeable taste similar to both mint and liquorice.
◎ Types: Many naturalists and conservationists do not recognise the genus Corymbia and still categorise its species within Eucalyptus. Corymbia is a genus of about 113 species of tree that were classified as Eucalyptus species until the mid-1990s. It includes the bloodwoods, ghost gums and spotted gums.
- Lemon-scented gum oil is an ingredient in some commercial mosquito repellents. It seems to be about as effective as other mosquito repellents including some products that contain DEET. However, the protection offered by lemon eucalyptus oil doesn’t seem to last quite as long as DEET.
- It can prevent tick bites, when applied to the skin.
- Developing research suggests that lemon-scented gum oil, in combination with camphor and menthol, is useful for treating toenail fungus when applied directly to the affected area.
- It can help to relieve joint pain and arthritis.
Traditional Aboriginal Food and Uses
The heavily aromatic leaves of this herb have been used in Aboriginal traditional medicine as a powerful antiseptic, and as a natural insect repellent.
Western & Modern
The essential oil of the lemon-scented gum mainly consists of citronellal. The unrefined oil from the lemon eucalyptus tree is used in perfumery, a refined form of this oil is used in insect repellents.
Citronellal provides the oil with cleansing properties. Put several drops in a spray bottle with water to use on surfaces. For extra power, add a few drops of your favourite citrus oil to the spray bottle as well.
You can also put the cleansing power of Lemon-scented gum to work for your skin. Add a drop to your facial cleanser or moisturiser. Dilute it with a carrier oil like Fractionated Coconut Oil to minimise any skin sensitivity.
The leaves are dried and ground into a powder for use in any type of citrus dish. Use in biscuits, cheese cake or Thai style fish cakes. Also excellent sprinkled over potatoes with Macadamia Oil and roasted or barbecued.
Lemon-scented gum oil is used for preventing mosquito and deer tick bites; for treating muscle spasms, toenail fungus (onychomycosis), and osteoarthritis and other joint pain. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs used to relieve congestion.
The oil contains a chemical that repels mosquitoes and kills fungus. It is important to not take the oil internally unless otherwise prescribed, as it is somewhat toxic.
Note: The term 'Bush Tucker' and 'Bush Food' are not Warndu's preferred terms for Australian Native Ingredients or Australian Botanicals.
Images: Photo by Valley of Teas