Citronella Essential Oil (Cymbopogon nardus)


Citronella may also be referred to as Citronella Grass, Ceylon Citronella, False citronella, Blue citronella grass, Tussocky Guinea grass, Naid grass. It is typically processed in Asia using steam distilled as a method for extracting oil from the grass.


Citronella oil comes from the leaves and stems of the Cymbopogon nardus grass. It has a sweet, citrus, grassy scent. It has an antiseptic effect.

Citronella is an aromatic, perennial grass that is cultivated primarily in Asia.

Citronella Essential Oil is most widely known for its ability to deter mosquitos and other insects. Because the aroma is so widely associated with insect repellent products, Citronella Oil is often ignored for its other beneficial uses (refer to the Citronella Essential Oil Uses section below).

Citronella Essential Oil is abundant in citronellal (aldehyde) and in geraniol and citronellol (monoterpenols). The specific composition can vary due to several factors including the region that its grown.

Essential Facts

  • Aroma Description:

    Citrus Fresh Fruity Sweet

  • Common Name(s): Citronella Grass, Ceylon Citronella, False citronella, Blue citronella grass, Tussocky Guinea grass, Naid grass
  • Botanical Family: Poaceae
  • Botanical Genus: Cymbopogon
  • Major Compounds: Citronellal, Geraniol, (-)-Citronellol, (-)-Limonene, (E)-Methyl Isoeugenol, Champhene, Citronellyl acetate
  • Perfumery Note: Top
  • Consistency: Thin
  • Strength of Initial Aroma: Medium
  • Color: Clear
  • Countries of Production: Asia
  • Indigenous Country: Asia
  • Processing Methods: Steam Distilled
  • Part Typically Used: Grass
  • Vegan Vegan

Essential Details

Benefits & Uses

May be benefitial for addressing the following ailments:

Fever Insect Repellents Insomnia Muscular aches and pains Rashes

Therapeutic Benefits of Citronella:

Anti-fungal Anti-infectious Anti-parasitic Cicatrisant Disinfectant Insect Repellent

Cautions & Safety

Cautions when using Citronella:

Citronella oil may irritate sensitive skin.

Tisserand and Young indicate that there is a risk of drug interaction when using Citronella Oil. They recommend a dermal maximum of 18.2%. Reading Tisserand and Young's full profile is recommended. [Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 251.]

Safety Precautions for Citronella:

Do not take any oils internally and do not apply undiluted essential oils, absolutes, CO2s or other concentrated essences onto the skin without advanced essential oil knowledge or consultation from a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. If you are pregnant, epileptic, have liver damage, have cancer, or have any other medical problem, use oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Use extreme caution when using oils with children and be sure to first read the recommended dilution ratios for children. Consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner before using oils with children, the elderly, if you have medical issues or are taking medications. For in-depth information on oil safety issues, read Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young.


Botanical Description of Citronella:

Cymbopogon nardus is a tall tufted long-lived (perennial) grass with narrow leaf-blades. Panicle (flower cluster) narrow, 15-30 cm long with racemes (unbranched inflorescence) 8-10 mm long, often rather covered with long soft hairs; spikelets without stalks, flat or concave on the back with winged keels (resembling the keel of a boat), awn (bristle-like structure) 5-6 cm long (Harrington and Pratchett 1974).