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Lemongrass – How To Distinguish Cymbopogon citratus and Cymbopogon flexuosus


Cymbopogon - The Lemongrass Family

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) also called West Indian Lemon grass is the main species used for cooking. 

The East Indian Lemongrass (Cymbopogon nardus ) is also used for cooking but less suitable.

This article is about how to tell the two apart and what is the difference in use and gardening. But first, let’s have a look at some other members of the family:

Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus) is used for citronella essential oil production. But also Java citronella (Cymbopogon winterianus) is used for that purpose. 

Barbed wire grass (Cymbopogon refractus) and Australian lemon scented grass (Cymbopogon ambiguus) are two native lemon grasses which can be used. 

Difference between East Indian (C flexuosus) and West Indian (C citratus) Lemon Grass

West Indian Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

  • Does not form viable seeds
  • No purple tinged stems
  • Grows to 90 cm
  • Thicker stems
  • not frost hardy but less tropical
lemongrass citratus
c. citratus

East Indian Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus)

  • Does form viable seeds
  • Purple tinged stems
  • Grows to 1.5 meter
  • Thinner stems
  • more tropical than C. citratus
Lemongrass flexuosus
C. flexuosus

The plant I have grown as C citratus was not grown from seed but it has a little purplish tinge which it should not have according to literature. The seed grown C. flexuosus hasn’t. The seed grown is maybe 3 months old and was planted out of the pot only a week ago, so the height is not a criterion.

If you know more about how to distinguish these two species please let me know!

Both are used interchangeably and I have both for sale.  The note with the purple tinge is found over and over in such an identical manner, that I suspect it’s copied from each other. 

This blog post is in the making and I will post better information as soon as I have got some input! 

I have both varieties available:

East Indian

West Indian

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