Cymbopogon nardus is an aromatic, evergreen, clump-forming perennial grass growing up to 2.5 metres tall from a stout rootstock. The plant is sometimes cultivated in tropical areas for its essential oil, which is used as a food flavouring.
A plant also known as Cirtonella grass is of the moist, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,500 metres. The leaves of the plant are used as a flavouring in curries, soups etc. The white centre of the succulent stems is used to impart a flavour to curries. An aromatic tea can be obtained from the leaves. An essential oil is obtained from the plant. This oil contains geraniol, citral and citronellal. It is much used by the food industry to flavour a wide range of foods. Citral can be used to imitate apple, lemon, strawberry and vanilla flavours.