The leaves have a lemon taste and smell, that comes from the substantial presence of “citral” in the plants essential oils.
Lemon Myrtle grows in the wild from seed, can grow from seed, but in cultivation it isgrown from cuttings.
It can grow up to 65 feet (20 metres) tall in the wild; when cultivated, reaches about 15 feet (5 metres.) It has long, narrow glossy medium-green leaves. It has white, bell-shaped blossoms throughout the summer that produces seed-bearing capsules.
If a branch touches the ground, roots may grow off it.
The leaves can be used fresh or dried, or dried and ground into a green powder.
Add at the end of cooking, as prolonged cooking will destroy the lemon taste.
Use only in small amounts. If you use it in large amounts, a eucalyptus-like taste will come through instead. For the dried powder, use only up to ½ teaspoon per pound (500g) of other ingredients.
Lemon Myrtle is native to the Queensland area of Australia, on the coast from Brisbane to Mackay.
It has been in cultivatation since the early 1990s.
The “backhousia” part of its scientific name is in honour of James Backhouse (1794 – 1869), a British botanist