Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt ex Bor

Last updated: 19 May 2015

Scientific Name

Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt ex Bor


Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt, Cymbopogon nardus (L.) Rendle var. mahapangiri auct. [1] [2]

Vernacular Name


Serai wangi [2][3]


Java citronella, Java citronella oil, maha panggiri grass, winter’s grass [2], Java citronella grass, win­ter's grass, old citronella grass [3]


Feng mao, zhao wa xiang mao, la ding mei zhou xiang mao [4]


Serai wangi (General); sere wangi (Javanese); sereh wangi (Sundanese) [2][3]


Takhrai ma-khuut (Northern); takhrai-hom (Central); takhrai­ daeng (Peninsular)[2][3]; dton ja kai ma koot [4]


S[ar] Java, s[ar] d[or] [2][3]

Sri Lanka

Maha Pangiri, maha pengiri [2]


citronelle de java [2], herbe citron de Java [3]


Java citronellgras, Java zitronengras, maha-pengiri-gras [4]


Citronella di Giava [4]


Ægte citrongræs [4]


Citronella [2], pasto de camellos [4]


Citronela de Java, maha pengiri (Portuguese) [4]


Tsitronellovoe, tsimbopogon vintera [4]

Geographical Distributions

Cymbopogon win­terianus is only known from cultivation and most probably originated from Southern India or Sri Lan­ka. [3]

Botanical Description

C. win­terianus comes from the family of Gramineae. It is a perennial, tufted, aromatic grass with numerous erect culms that arise from a short rhizome. [3]

The culm (stem) is up to 2.5 m tall, cylindrical, smooth and hairless. [3]

The sheath leaves are stri­ate, hairless, smooth, yellowish or turning pur­plish-red, where those of the culm are tightly clasping and shorter than the internodes, while those at the base are very short, loose and slip from the culm. The ligule are chartaceous, measures about 1 mm long and ciliate. The blade is linear with long slender tip, measures up to 1 m x 1.5(-5) cm, drooping for 2/3 of its length, smooth and hairless. It is light green on the upper surface, pale bluish-green below and with scabrid-serrate margins. [3]

The inflores­cence is a large and repeatedly branched panicle. It is 60-100 cm long, and with zigzag axis, while the branches of the high­est order end with a spatheole subtending a pair of racemes. The small bracts are linear-Iance-shaped, measure 1-2.5 cm long, many-veined and dull reddish. [3]

The racemes are 1-2 cm long, ciliate, one subsessile and one stalked, and they consist of 4-7 pairs of spikelets. One of each pair is sessile while the other is with pedicel, terminated by 1 ses­sile and 2 pedicel spikelets. The sessile spikelet is ob­long-ellipsoidal, measures 4-5 mm long and with 2 florets. The lower glume is oblong-Iance-shaped. The shape and size of the spikelet are usually flat, narrowly winged, 2-keeled and 0-3-veined. The upper glume is boat-shaped, keeled in the upper half and 3-veined. The lower floret is reduced to empty lemma. The upper floret is hermaphrodite, with lemma 3 mm long, almost transparent, 2-lobed, with awn up to 5 mm long if present, with 2 lodicules, 3 stamens and 2 styles with plumose stigmas. The pedicellate spikelet is narrowly oblong-ellipsoidal, measures up to 5 mm long, male or sterile. The lower glume is 7-9-veined while the upper glume is equal in size and 3-­veined. The florets are represented by a single transparent scale of 3 mm long, wrapped round 3 stamens and 2 lodicules. [3]

The fruit is a cylindrical to nearly globular caryop­sis and with basal hilum. [3]


C. winterianus was brought to Java at an ear­ly date and was taken into cultivation before 1900. Large-scale production and the use of improved selections and distillation equipment in Java started around 1900. At present, C. winterianus is cultivated throughout the tropics. In Southeast Asia, it is important in Indonesia and Vietnam and elsewhere in Brazil, China, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and India. [3]

This plant is grown throughout the tropics and warm subtropics, provided mois­ture is amply available. A total annual rainfall of 2000-2500 mm evenly distributed over the year is needed for good, sustained yields. Where there is a pronounced dry season, irrigation is required if C. winterianus is to persist. The oil from leaves harvested after a dry period tends to have an in­creased aldehyde content. Generally, C. winteri­anus is found below 500 m altitude. However, in India, cultivars adapted to higher altitudes have been selected that yield well up to at least 1200 m, e.g. in tea-growing areas in Assam. Average day­time temperatures of 22-27°C are optimal for growth. Low temperatures retard growth and may reduce leaf-oil content. Even light frost causes se­vere damage and serious frost is often lethal. Hail storms can severely damage young plantations and cause damage to the leaves in older planta­tions by reducing the oil content. C. winterianus re­quires more fertile soils than the other Cymbo­pogon grasses and in poor soils its economic life is short. It prefers neutral to slightly acid, well­ drained, loamy soils with an adequate supply of moisture and nutrients. It tolerates only short pe­riods of waterlogging and is intolerant of salinity. [3]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

No documentation.

Preclinical Data

No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of C. winterianus [3]


  1. Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt ex Bor [homepage on the Internet]. St. Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden; c2015 [cited 2015 May 06]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC World dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology (5 Volume set). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p. 1275.
  3. de Guzman CC, Reglos RA. Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt In: Oyen LPA, Nguyen Xuan Dung, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 19: Essential-oil plants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 106-110.
  4. Philippine Medicinal Plants. Citronella. Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt. [homepage on the Internet] c2014. [updated 2014 Oct; cited 2015 June 12] Available from: