Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Lemon-scented Myrtle, Sweet Verbena Tree, Lemon Ironwood
Backhousia citriodora

Family: Myrtaceae (mir-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Backhousia (bak-HOW-zee-uh) (Info)
Species: citriodora (sit-ree-oh-DOR-uh) (Info)

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


Unknown - Tell us

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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4 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral mattsupi On May 30, 2013, mattsupi from kuala lumpur
Malaysia wrote:

hi... i'm interested to plant this tree. Could anyone can advise me that this plant can be life at tropical weather, where by i'm stay at Malaysia, where is one of the south east asia country.

Positive Lola111 On Oct 16, 2009, Lola111 from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

we have just had 42 backhousia citriodora 300mm plants delivered ready to plant a 32m screening hedge along a boundary in Clayfield. I just love the scent of the crushed leaves and the added bonus of being able to use them in cooking and to repel the mosquitos which are just starting to reappear. Our new plants have bushy heads but are a bit thin down below - should we prune soon after planting to promote lower growth? Our soil here is obviously "clay-ey" but we will be mixing it with good quality topsoil and mulching....any other tips?

Positive melangemerchant On Feb 16, 2006, melangemerchant from Adelaide
Australia (Zone 10a) wrote:

I can only add to what has been said above. A superb Australian native shrub or small tree. Doesn't like drought conditions, during summer I water mine very regularly. As for uses, I use the leaves in a great many things such as SE Asian curries/soups/marinades, in place of lemongrass or lemon zest. I use some dried leaves ground up with pepper in crumbing for fish fillets, seafood or schnitzel. It also works well in Moroccan style dishes.

Positive Herbynoel On Jan 14, 2005, Herbynoel from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

This would have to be one of Australias best small trees for the suburban garden.
The aromatic foliage alone is alureing, but when the fluffy flowers arrive in Nov / Dec it is rearly a show stopper!
The leaves are commonly used in "bush tucker"food and are lovely used in Ice-cream or sorbets.Very refreashing on a hot summers day.
Maximun height to approx 5 metres in a conical shape.
Not too much pruning is required.

Positive mertyl On Jan 13, 2005, mertyl from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

I love this tree and so do the birds,bees and especially butterfly's. The old fallen leaves smell richly of lemon as you mow around the tree and the whole tree smells magnificent. It has a nice round compact shape and looks lovely when in bloom.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Hawthorne, California

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