Cymbopogon refractus – Native Lemon Grass (plant)
A native Cymbopogon species. The Cymbopogon genus is the Lemon Grass genus and the native Australian species also contain essential oils and have a very pleasant smell (more like orange than lemon). Whilst they do not have the enlarged ‘bulbs’ of Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus) the leaves are useful in tea making for relief of headaches and colds. Other common names are Barbed Wire Grass, Lemon Scented Grass, Turpentine Grass and Kangaroo Grass.
The plants are long-lived (5-25 years) and are very tolerant of low nutrient and dry sites, making C. refractus a suitable species to rehabilitate disturbed sites with rocky or skeletal substrates, such as eroded sites, quarries or mines. It has reasonable fodder value and if provided grazing pressure is not too high, it can survive for long periods of drought. C. refractus provides valuable stock fodder on poor soils as long as it is not grazed continuously. Despite its strongly aromatic nature it is often heavily grazed when young. It is an attractive species, with striking seed heads and the crushed foliage has a pleasant lemon/orange scent. It can be used as an alternative to Themeda australis in landscaping as the seed heads are equally distinctive and the plants are similar in size and form. C. refractus becomes unpalatable and very flammable when mature but resprouts after fire. It is tolerant of Phytophthora cinnamomi (from Greening Australia).
Care and Cultivation of Cymbopogon refractus
Cymbopogon refractus prefers a loam/gravel soil. Well drained soil, fast growing and hardy. Likes a full sun position and is tolerant of drought and frost once established.
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