Common Names: Serai wangi, citronella grass, nardus, nard grass, mana grass
Family: Poaceae/Gramineae (grass Family)
Botanical name: Cymbopogon nardus
Plant citronella grass along a walkway or near the porch where its fragrance can be appreciated. Its graceful arching leaves and overall vertical form provide subtle opposition when planted near bushy or rounded shrubs and flowers.
Citronella grass is the source of the commercial citronella oil, used in perfumery and as an insect repellent. Inexpensive soaps sold in Asian markets are scented with citronella oil. Citronella oil can be mixed with other vegetable oils and used in massage or rubbed on the skin for an insect repellent. Citronella candles and incense, however, are less effective. Studies have shown that to keep mosquitoes away, you would have to burn so many candles that the smoke would be almost intolerable.
The essential oils extracted from citronella grass are much used in aroma therapy. Practitioners claim it is a stimulant when inhaled or rubbed on the skin, and an antiseptic that can be used to sterilize food preparation surfaces. It is reported that citronella oil repels cats.
Usage : The dried leaves can be used as insects repellant by warding off insects. In case of stomach ache, the essential oil is rubbed for comfort.
There are more than 30 species of Cymbopogon, including the well known lemon grass (C. citratus) which is used in Southeast Asian cooking and teas.
Some individuals experience dermatitis from contact with citronella grass or lemongrass, particularly the concentrated oils from these grasses. Inhaling the essential oils of citronella may increase heart rate in some people.