Lemon myrtle- Backhousia citriodora

This wonderful Aussie native is often referred to the “queen of the lemon herbs”. It has a very strong lemon taste and aroma. We have a couple growing on our place and as you walk past and pluck a couple of leaves off, rub them in your hands, you are blessed with the nicest lemon smell. I rub it around my ears, neck and arms, hoping that any bitey bugs might try to avoid me! If not, I’ll just smell nice.

It’s endemic to subtropical rainforests in Australia. Our First Nations people have long used it in cooking and for medicine. The leaves can be used fresh or dried, in tea, pasta, fish, chicken, cheesecakes. It possesses anti microbial properties, especially the essential oil. The oil is popular in health care and cleaning products, especially soap, creams and shampoo.

It prefers a warm, sunny or partial shady spot. Sheltered from frost and cold winds. Well drained soil but well watered. Can grow from 3-8 mts but can be kept in a pot. Bird and bee attracting, it’s a lovely addition to any garden. Harvest, extremely simple, just pluck fresh leaves as needed.


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    This sounds like a lovely one to keep as a houseplant. I'm assuming it needs lots of humidity?

    I would love to visit your garden should I ever make it to Australia. It would be a real feast for the senses.

    I will have to look for this essential oil. I should make a collection of EOs that are endemic to Australia and maybe that will give me a sense of what your garden smells like.

  • Sara W
    Sara W Posts: 35 ✭✭✭

    Oh I really miss this tree. One of my faves back home. I got so lonely for it at one stage I planted a stack of lemon verbena about a week after we got to Italy. took off like a rocket after we left. The owner emailed me 4 months later wanting to know what Id planted.. and was it culinary.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    @torey and you would be absolutely welcome. Humidity wise, some but not all year round. High rainfall in the warmer months seems essential.

    @lintonpair can I assume you are originally from Australia? If so a warm Aussie welcome. Lemon myrtle is one of Mt favourite Aussie natives.