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Lemon ironbarks, also known as lemon-scented ironbarks are small eucalypt trees of up to 6 m height. Like all eucalypt species they are native to Australia, in this case dry woody areas of Northern Queensland. Mature leaves are lanceolate and dark green, new leaves are wider and lighter in colour. Eucalyptus staigeriana withstands droughts and poor soil and is suitable for tropical and subtropical areas. It is popular for its essential oil and is grown commercially on a large scale in Brasil. Its oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and acts antispasmodic and relaxing. In Australia the leaves of lemon ironbark are also used as a spice in Bushfood cuisine.

Lemon ironbark is sometimes confused with lemon myrtle (bot.: Backhousia citriodora) and lemon-scented gum (bot.: Eucalyptus citriodora). While lemon myrtle is also used as a leaf spice, the latter contains large amounts of citronellal, which irritates mucous membranes. It is mostly grown for its essential oil. Small quantities are used as a flavouring agent in foods but lemon-scented gum leaves may not be used in cooking. Medicinal herbal infusions may contain small amounts.

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Lemon ironbark as a leaf spice

The leaves of lemon-scented ironbark are usually sold dried and ground, mostly by specialised spice traders or over the internet. They may be used as a herbal infusion or added to tea for flavouring. In cooking the leaf spice is mostly used for savoury dishes. It goes well with fish and poultry. In spice mixtures it is sometimes combined with bush pepper for an Australian version of lemon pepper. Eucalyptus staigeriana tastes fruity and lemony with a slight hint of rosemary.

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