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What is a Lemon Scented Gum?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2016
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A lemon scented gum is a tall tree that reaches a height of about 168 feet (51 m). It carries the scientific name Corymbia citriodora, but it is also known as Eucalyptus citriodora. The lemon scented gum is indigenous to the tropical and temperate regions of northeastern Australia. Its trunk is straight and smooth with a powdery bark that can range in color from pale white to light gray, speckled by irregular spots. This tree has an airy canopy that contains narrow, lance-shaped, light green leaves that are lemon-scented.

In its natural habitat, the lemon scented gum blooms in winter, but in cultivation it blossoms during late winter to early spring. The flowers are not easily seen and start as small green buds that eventually open to reveal a creamy white color. After blooming, the flowers develop woody seed capsules that are shaped like urns.

The usual method of propagating the lemon scented gum is by planting its seeds during spring. These seeds are typically spread onto the surface of a potting mix containing peat moss, loam and coarse sand. Fertilizers are not necessary because this tree grows even in soil with very poor nutrients.

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Due to its drought tolerance, little to moderate amounts of water are required for the plant to thrive. When potted, the growth of the lemon scented gum is typically controlled by pruning and re-potting it after its flowers bloom. This tree is vulnerable to frost, especially when young, and should not be exposed to temperatures below 50°F (10°C).

There is a wide range of uses for the lemon scented gum; for example, some people, Kenyans in particular, favor the tree for its production of honey. An essential oil called citronella can be extracted from the leaves of this aromatic plant. Once refined, the oil is used in perfumery, but unrefined oil can be used as an ingredient in insect repellents as well. Supply for structural timber is also one of the important uses of lemon scented gum. In addition, horticulture is a popular application not only in its native habitat, but also in other parts of the world.

The location where this tree is to be planted must be carefully chosen because of its large size. If planted in parks, the tree's large limbs can damage structures or people if they fall. Its strong, spreading root system also could pose serious problems to pipes if they are planted near residential and commercial areas.

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