Lemon Myrtle

Backhousia citriodora commonly known as lemon myrtle, lemon scented myrtle and lemon scented ironwood, is a flowering plant in the family Myrtaceae, genus Backhousia. It is endemic to subtropical rainforests of central and south-eastern Queensland, Australia.

It can reach 6m in height, but is often smaller. The leaves are steam distilled to produce the essential oil and dried and crushed for culinary purposes.

Backhousia citriodora has two essential oil chemotypes:

The citral chemotype is more prevalent and is cultivated in Australia for flavouring and essential oil. Citral as an isolate in steam distilled lemon myrtle oil is the highest natural source of citral, and typically higher than lemongrass. It is also considered to have a “cleaner and sweeter” aroma than comparable sources of citral from lemongrass or litsea.

The citronellal chemotype is uncommon, and can be used as an insect repellent.

Dried and crushed Lemon myrtle leaves are traditionally used for culinary purposes in foods such as shortbread, baked fish, desserts and tea blends. It is one of Austraslia’s well known bush foods and has been referred to as the “Queen of the lemon herbs”.

Lemon myrtle essential oil possesses antimicrobial properties. A study in 2003 investigated the effectiveness of different preparations of lemon myrtle against bacteria and fungi and concluded that the plant had potential as an antiseptic or as a surface disinfectant, or as an anti-microbial food additive.

The oil is a popular ingredient in health care and cleaning products, especially soaps, lotions and shampoos.

Used aromatically, the sweet, lemon, slightly herbal scent of Lemon myrtle can soothe, promote relaxation, and infuse positive feelings.


Backhousia citriodora – Wikipedia. 2023. Backhousia citriodora – Wikipedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backhousia_citriodora. [Accessed 17 August 2022].

Liz Edgecombe. 2023. 10 Unbelievable Health Benefits of Using Lemon Myrtle – The Spice People. [ONLINE] Available at: https://thespicepeople.com.au/…/10-unbelievable-health…/#. [Accessed 23 February 2023].

Lemon Myrtle Oil | dōTERRA Essential Oils. 2023. Lemon Myrtle Oil | dōTERRA Essential Oils. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.doterra.com/AU/en_AU/p/lemon-myrtle-oil. [Accessed 23 February 2023].