Type of plant: Bushy perennial shrub growing to around 6 feet high, with slim lemon-scented leaves and stems carrying spikes of tiny white to light-pink or lilac flowers
Part used: Flowering tops
Method of extraction: Steam distillation
Data: The leaves are harvested along with the flowers and distilled straight away. Originally from South America, lemon verbena was introduced into Europe by the Spanish in the seventeenth century and now grows widely throughout the world. It’s a popular scented garden shrub, and the leaves are often used in potpourris and herbal pillows.
Principal places of production: France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Réunion
When buying look for: A yellow to golden yellow liquid with a fresh, sweet, soft, herbaceous, citrus aroma. Not to be confused with vervain (Verbena officinalis) or Spanish verbena oil.
Therapeutic properties: Anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, sedative
Therapeutic uses: Nervous indigestion, abdominal cramp, muscular spasm, gastrointestinal problems, diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, stress, depression, nervous asthma, anxiety, restlessness
Blends well with: Black pepper, cananga, cardamom, clove bud, coriander seed, cypress, elemi, fennel (sweet), ginger, jasmine, juniper berry, mandarin, marjoram (sweet), myrtle, orange (sweet), peppermint, petitgrain, rosemary, spearmint, valerian, vetiver, ylang ylang
Precautionary advice: Photosensitizer; do not apply to the skin prior to sun exposure. May cause irritation on highly sensitive skins; a skin patch test is advisable.