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Lemon Ironbark

Lemon Ironbark

Lemon Ironbark  (Eucalyptus staigeriana)

Most members of the eucalyptus family have scented aromatic oils in their tissues. Some of these are toxic, protecting the trees from herbivores. But there are also many that enjoy a role in the kitchen.

One of these is the Lemon ironbark  (Eucalyptus staigeriana). It is native to  the Palmer River region of Far north Queensland. The Palmer River area is a fairly dry forest, not the rainforest such as you find farther east around the Daintree. 

Lemon ironbark is a small tree up to 7 m tall. It prefers sunny locations and well-drained soil and is tolerant of drought and of poor soil conditions. It can withstand a light frost but doesn't really like a hard freeze and seems to grow reasonably well as far south as northern NSW.

The leaves of lemon ironbark contain essential oils have a lemony scent.  It is quite a different lemon to a Lemon Myrtle or a Lemon Tea, although it is quite 'citrusy' with a little rosemary. The high oil content of about 3 percent also means it will hold an aroma for you that will fill a room.

Lemon Ironbark is a popular Australian bush tucker ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes. You can use it in the kitchen as a flavouring ingredient in soups, sauces, casseroles, vegetable dishes, etc.  Pick the young leaves and use them like bay leaves, mixing them in with the food as it is cooking, allowing the leaves to work their magic on the food. Remove them and toss them into the compost bin before you serve the meal.

The oils in the leaves have a range of personal care uses as well. Extracts can be used in perfume, aromatherapy and anti-bacterial agents. It is excellent for removing smells from a room, waking you up and relaxing you in a burner.

Just one of these trees can provide you with all the leaves you can use, as well as some to share with the neighbours. 

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