Cymbopogon flexuosus Open-pollinated. Nikos searched for years for this culinary strain of lemongrass, native to Southeast Asia, used in food and medicine there for millennia, and adopted worldwide for the bright lemony flavor it imparts. Coarse grass sets 6–12 harvestable stalks, looking something like pencil leeks, slightly bulbous at the base. Harvest the tough stalks low; the plants will re-grow, though probably only to 3' here in Maine rather than the 6' achieved in the tropics. Use chopped or ground, fresh, dried or frozen, add to soups, sauces and stir-fries, or make into a delicious medicinal tea to aid digestion. Holli Cederholm reports that it’s well worth growing for market: her customers raved about its quality compared to the supermarket’s, and a caterer bought it regularly for infusing mixed drinks. Perennial in Zones 9-11, grown as an annual in our climate unless potted up and brought indoors for the winter. Not a great germinator; 40% is considered good. Sow indoors and transplant out 8–12" apart. ~2,000 seeds/g. ③
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See Herb Chart in the sidebar for uses and cultural information.
About medicinal herbs: Archeological evidence dates the medicinal use of herbs back 60,000 years to the Neanderthals. 85% of the world’s population employ herbs as medicines, and 40% of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. contain plant-derived materials. Fewer than 10% of higher plant species have been investigated for their medicinal components. Interest in traditional herbal remedies continues to grow.
Statements about medicinal use of plants have not been evaluated by the FDA, and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any ailment. Before using or ingesting any medicinal plant, consult a healthcare practitioner familiar with botanical medicine.
Using herbs: Drying herbs at home is not difficult. Whole leaves retain their flavor at least a year. To substitute fresh herbs for dried in cooking, use triple the dried quantity called for in a recipe.
Culture: Some herbs are customarily grown from divisions because they cannot come true from seed, such as scented thymes and flavored mints. Some require fall sowing of fresh seed, such as sweet cicely and angelica, and these become available in August or September.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.