I grow both of the most common types of lemongrass in my garden: the bulbous stalk type we’re most familiar with, Cymbopogon citratus, known as West Indian lemongrass. This is the one used in stirfrys, Asian marinade pastes, and many savory dishes. I also grow Cymbopogon flexuosus, known as East Indian lemongrass, which grows much taller than the citratus, and has a skinny stalk, no swelling at the base. Earlier research showed me that the flexuosus is used in sweet recipes in the Far East, such as sodas, syrups, candies, and such.
Here’s a shot of the planted flexuosus in my garden today, it’s a bit beaten down by rain, but notice the tall, rangy growth habit and brown seed stalks/head. Dead palm frond in neighbor’s yard doesn’t add to the ambiance 🙂
Below find a photo of some newly-planted West Indian lemongrass C. citratus, about four months old. You can’t see the swollen bases in this photo, but notice the wider leaves, and more rounded head, and the fact that the plants are shorter than the C. flexuosus. Also, in all my years of growing C. citratus, I have never seen them put forth a flower stalk.
Now — the information I found about the two species that are of importance to perfumers: use the C. flexuosus, it has less of a tendency to go rancid. Well, to develop oxidative polymerization, to be exact. I’ve had some bottles of lemongrass go “gooey” over time, with a thick, rubbery paste around the neck of the bottle. I found this information on a site I have visited and loved as a fabulous resource for many, many years. Here’s the link to the specific lemongrass page on Germot Katzer’s Spice Pages, but I know you’ll be burrowing into all the other pages there, it’s addictive! I guess a higher myrcene content is the culprit. Perfumers love to have a longer shelf life for our oils, and every little bit of research helps. Aromatherapists may have a specific reason to choose C. citratus over C. flexuosus, but I encourage them to look into the possibility of using flexuosus too because maybe it will work the same was as citratus.
What do you think, perfumers – will this news cause you to consider using C. flexuosus in your perfumes?