Backhousia citriodora - Lemon Myrtle is a native Australian tree growing naturally from Brisbane to Rockhampton in a range of altitudes from 50 to over 800 m above sea level. The Sunshine Coast and Proserpine area are identified as main areas of natural strands.
Backhousia citriodora was named by Baron Ferdinand von Müller in 1853 after James Backhouse (1794-1869), an English nurseryman and keen botany collector. Backhouse was an early Quaker missionary who visited Australia in 1832-8, making observations of Australian flora and fauna as well as writing about Australian society at the time.
In 1889 Joseph H. Maiden reported the potential use of Lemon Myrtle for commercial production and Schimmel & Co analysed the species in 1888 for chemical properties identifying citral for the first time.
Lemon Myrtle is reputed to have a ‘sweet’ citral fragrance and taste. Other ‘lemony’ essential oils come from citrus (3-10% citral), lemon grass (75%), the tropical Verbena (74%), the Lemon Scented Tea Tree (80%) and the Lemon Myrtle, (90-97% citral).
Early last century Lemon Myrtle was used in Australia as a source of citral rich essential oil for lemon flavouring, but it was later replaced by other ‘lemony’ essential oils. By 1990 lemon myrtle was rediscovered as a potential new crop.
By 1996 Northern Rivers farmers invested into planting Lemon Myrtle in commercial orchards. These trees are now in full production. It is anticipated that Lemon Myrtle will be one of the best bet native food plants, gaining recognition in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.
The beauty of Lemon Myrtle is that it has endless uses in its applications.
A stunning ornamental in the garden or as a pot-plant, it will enhance the landscape while its leaves provide a great source of lemon flavour for cooking that special sweet or savoury dish.
The flower industry has discovered Lemon Myrtle as foliar filler enhancing the bouquet and filling the room with the unmistakable fragrance. Once the leaves are dried they can be as air fresheners in wardrobes, shoe cabinets, caravans - any place that needs a lift.The aromatherapy industry has long recognised the value of fragrances for health maintenance and lifestyle. Lemon aromas are recognised as instilling a feeling of freshness and cleanliness. They are said to be uplifting, cheering the soul.
Lemon Myrtle essential oil is said to be lemonier than any other lemon oil and apart from being used as aromatic oil, it has found its way into cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications.
Lemon Myrtle soaps, lotions and potions, lip-balms and body butters, shampoos and shower gels are becoming widely available not only in Australia but throughout the world.In vitro research suggests that Lemon Myrtle is a powerful antifungal agent as well as showing significant antimicrobial activity and as such may be suited as a sanitiser. The first washing powders and cleaning agents are on the market and what could be better suited whilst cleaning to be surrounded by a clean green uplifting fragrance, the ultimate lemon aroma coming from Lemon Myrtle.
Click here to read available research on Lemon Myrtle