Australian Bush Food


Botanical name: Backhousia citriodora
Family: Myrtaceae
Other names: Lemon scented myrtle
Lemon ironwood
Lemon scented ironwood
Sweet verbena
Lemon scented verbena

Lemon Myrtle grows naturally throughout Queensland from Brisbane to Rockhampton with the Sunshine Coast and Proserpine area identified as the main areas of natural stands. Backhousia citriodora was named by Baron Ferdinand von Muller in 1853 in dedication of James Backhouse (1794-1869) an English botanist who visited Australia in 1832-38 and made early observations of Australian flora and fauna.

In 1889 Joseph H. Maiden reported the potential use of Lemon Myrtle for commercial production and a German firm called Schimmel & Co. analysed the species in 1888 for chemical properties identifying citral for the first time. In the early 1900's the naturally growing stands of B. citriodora in Queensland were harvested during land clearing operations and the leaves were steam distilled for the essential oil.

In the 1920's landowners in South-East Queensland built two distilleries and a perfumery to use the lemon scented essential oil from the B. citriodora trees growing naturally on their properties. During the Second World War B. citriodora was used for lemon flavouring in soft drinks because of a shortage of lemon essence.

By 1990 Lemon Myrtle was rediscovered as a potential new crop and by 1996 farmers in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales invested in planting Lemon Myrtle in commercial orchards. These plantations are now in full production and it is anticipated Lemon Myrtle will be one of the best native food plants, gaining recognition in the food, pharmaceutical, aromatherapy and cosmetic industries. In 2003 there was an estimated one million plantation trees of commercial harvest age ready for use.

The aromatherapy industry has long recognised the value of fragrances for health maintenance and life-style. Lemon aromas are recognised as instilling a feeling of freshness, cleanliness and calmness and are said to be uplifting and cheering to the soul. Lemon Myrtle soaps, lip balms, moisturisers, shampoos and shower gels are becoming widely available not only in Australia but throughout the world.

The dried leaves can also be used as a pot pourri to fill a room with its unmistakable fragrance. It can also be used as an air freshener in wardrobes, shoe cabinets or in any space that requires an uplifting and refreshing fragrance.

Even though Lemon Myrtle is popularly used in food, aromatherapy and cosmetics, the essential oil from this plant has also been shown to be a powerful antimicrobial agent and has significant potential as an antiseptic and surface disinfectant.

The leaves contain much essential oil (typically, 4 to 5%), which is made up almost totally of terpenoid aldehyds: citral (90 to 95%), neral and geranial. Trace constituents are myrcene, linalool, citronellal, cyclocitral and methyl-heptenone. Lemon Myrtle Oil is a superior source of Citral (approx. 95%) compared with Lemon oil extracted from Lemon peel (3-10% Citral) and Lemongrass oil (approx. 75% Citral).

The ground Lemon Myrtle appears as a green free-flowing herb with a flavour and aroma that is a combination of lemon, lime and lemongrass. In the past ten years in Australia there has been an increase in the combination of Lemon Myrtle in more traditional recipes, such as curries, sauces and cakes. As Lemon Myrtle is one of the most versatile of flavours it can enhance any dish which requires a lemon flavour with its endless applications. Our Lemon Myrtle ground has a shelf life of 12 months when stored below 20°C in original packaging.

This product does not contain aspartame, quinine, guarana, phytosterol esters, caffeine, milk, eggs, peanuts, royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis, cane sugar, lactose, gluten, petrochemicals, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, animal products.

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