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Java citronella

A member of the Poaceae family, the java citronella is originally from Sri Lanka and is called Mahapengeri in the local language. It is also widely grown in India, Guatemala, Honduras, Malaysia and several other countries. It is, basically, a tropical plant. Through a process of steam distillation, it provides the popular java citronella oil. Cymbopogon winterianus is the source of the high quality java citronella essential oil. Whereas the other variety of citronella, cymbopogon nardus is the source of the Ceylon essential oil but it is considered inferior in quality to the java citronella oil.

Java citronella has the higher alcohol content among the citronella oils. With its clear lemon type scent,

it is used for creating perfumes. This plant is used for a multitude for various purposes as in food flavoring, mosquito repellents, perfumery, deodorants, soaps and cosmetics industries. Chemicals like the geraniol, hydroxy citronellol and citroneliol are some components of the java citronella used in the perfumery industry. Geraniol and citronellol function as antiseptics and are used in disinfectants. The java citronella with its lemony scent makes the oil highly useful in the aromatherapy.

This aromatic grass is tall, stemless and perennial. It is characterized by the presence of shallow and fibrous roots and occurs in thick clumps together. Given the right conditions, the plant grows to over two meters in height and possesses distinct long and linear leaves. The leaves are gray green and longish. The plant grows well in different types of soils but thrives in areas blessed with sandy loamy soils supplied with lots of organic matter. It does not support sandy and heavy clay soils. Highly fertile and well drained soils are essential for the optimum growth of the plant. It requires PH levels of 5 to 7.5 to thrive. Java citronella does reasonably well in high altitude conditions and grows best in areas with heavy rainfall and sunny conditions. A suitable humid climate is ideal for the growth of this plant.

A commercially popular crop it is grown by splitting into rooted slips, between the months of April and September. It is generally planted in the rainy season. It does not spread through runners like other grasses but with plant maturation, the clumps increase in overall size. Fertilizers based on nitrogen are best used for this plant. Taking around 20 days to firmly establish itself in the soil, the plant is grown for three to four years at a time and are rotated with leguminous plants to revive the soil.

Essential Oil
Its aromatic and medicinal properties have rendered the java citronella a highly useful plant. The java citronella oil is obtained from the leaves and stem of the plant. The oil contains the citronellal, geraniol and hydroxy citronellol which are highly useful in perfume making. With regard to its medicinal properties, it is useful in treating fevers, rheumatism, minor infections, stomach related and menstrual problems. The java citronella oil is used fro making insect repellents. The oil is also regarded as a great stimulant, with its fresh and invigorating scent. Having astringent properties, it can be used to improve upon an oily complexion skin. It is famed to be useful in treating insomnia. Aromatherapy recognizes its utility and benefits with regard to the immune system. nervous system as well as for skin

care purposes. The java citronella gives twice the amount of oil as the other varieties and the oil ranges from colorless to slight yellow in appearance. It has a fresh and sweet woody fragrance and blends well with a variety of oils such as geranium, bergamot, lemon, orange, cedarwood and other oils.
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