Lemon grass is a perennial, fast-growing aromatic grass Cymbopogon flexuosus, growing to a height of about 1 meter (3 feet), with long, thin leaves. It produces a network of roots and rootlets. It is commonly seen growing wild in the hight range forest areas of Marayoor and Kanthallor in the Idukki district of Kerala.
Lemon gras oil is extracted form the resh or partly dried leaves othis grass by steam distillation. The main chemical ocmpontnts of lemongrass oil are myrcene, citronellal, geranyl acetate, nerol, geraniol, neral and traces of limonene and citral.
Lemon grass oil extraction is becoming a major means of livelihood of the Muthuvas, a tribe in Idukke district. In recent years the tribal people have started cultivating lemon grass in portions of uncultivable tribal lands and this has served to significantly reduce their dependence on forests for livelihood.
Lemongrass oil is extensively used in perfumes, soap and cosmetics and also as a mosquito repellant and disinfectant.
Marayoor Forest Development Agency(FDA) has taken up the marketing of lemongrass oil for ensuring a fair deal to the tribals and other members of Vana Samarakshana Samithies (VSS) and Eco-development Committes (EDC) who cultivate or collect the grass from the forest and extract oil.