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Citral, or 3,7-dimethyl-2,6-octadienal or lemonal, is either of a pair of terpenoids with the molecular formula C10H16O. The two compounds are double bond isomers. The trans isomer is known as geranial or citral A. The cis isomer is known as neral or citral B.

Geranial has a strong lemon odor. Neral has a lemon odor that is less intense, but sweeter. Citral is therefore an aroma compound used in perfumery for its citrus effect. Citral is also used as a flavor and for fortifying lemon oil. It also has strong anti-microbial qualities[1], and pheromonal effects in insects.[2][3]

Citral is used in the synthesis of vitamin A, ionone, and methylionone.

Citral is present in the oils of several plants, including lemon myrtle (90-95%), Litsea cubeba (70-85%), lemongrass (65-85%), Lemon verbena (30-35%), lemon balm, lemon and orange.[4]

Health & Safety information

Citral should be avoided by people with perfume allergy[5].

See also


  1. Onawunmi, G.O. (1989) Evaluation of the antimicrobial acyivity of citral. Lett. Appl. Microbial. 9, 105-108.
  2. Kuwahara, Y., Suzuki, H., Matsumoto, K. & Wada, Y. (1983) Pheromone study on acarid mites. XI. Function of mite body as geometrical isomerization and reduction of citral (the alarm pheromone) Carpoglyphus lactis. Appl. Entomol. Zool. 18, 30-39.
  3. Robacker, D.C. & Hendry, L.B. (1977) Neral and geranial: components of the sex pheromone of the parasitic wasp, Itoplectis conquisitor, J. Chem. Ecol. 3, 563-577.
  4. Lawless, J., The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, ISBN 1-85230-661-0
  5. Survey and health assessment of chemical substances in massage oils

External links

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