The deliciously fresh, refined and intense lemon fragrance of lemon verbena, which is native to Peru and Argentina, has long been prized for use in tisanes, liqueurs and cooking.
It is a shrub with arching branches and pointed leaves arranged in whorls of three around the stems. In summer the bush produces large terminal panicles of tiny, four petalled, white or pale lavender flowers.
It requires full sun, and a free draining loam with neutral pH. Propagate by semi ripe tip cuttings. Lemon verbena is cut back by frost, so should be winter mulched in cool climates. In heavy frost areas grow in a pot and bring it under protection during winter dormancy. Trim to shape . Bushes often leaf out very late in spring; don’t discard them prematurely.
Leaves can be harvested at any time to use fresh or for air-drying. The leaves are best used fresh and young. Use sparingly, otherwise the flavour can overwhelm the food and be reminiscent of lemon scented soap. It is a common ingredient in many herbal teas, imparting a wonderfully fragrant flavour, and can be substituted for lemon grass in Asian recipes. The leaves are used to give a lemon flavour to fruit salads and other fruit dishes, desserts and drinks. Infuse them in custard based sauces for desserts or finely chop and add to Asian dishes, poultry and stuffings. Add whole leaves to apple jelly, and chopped young leaves to fruit salads. With its digestive and relaxant properties, the tea is ideal for drinking after dinner.
information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs