Verbena has the strong citrus smell of lemon but more grassy, like citronella, than fruity. The leaves that produce the compelling scent are pointed, shiny and grow to a length of 3 inches. With a bunched, shrub-like appearance, verbena produces light purple flowers in the summer.
The essential oil extracted from the herb is versatile, fulfilling a number of needs. Medicinally, verbena eases stomach queasiness, has a mild tranquilizing effect and helps relieve depression by stimulating the nervous system. It is also an ingredient in insect repellents, perfumes and potpourri. Verbena is also ideal for culinary use. Dried leaves stay fragrant indefinitely and add a lemony taste and aroma to drinks, baked goods, pudding and jelly.