The plant

Scientific classification

Citrus limun, family of the Rutaceae, subfamily of the Aurantiodeae, group of the Citrae, subgroup of the Citrinae, order of the Sapindales, class of the dicotyledons, division angiosperms.

This plant comes from South-East Asia; the Arabs introduced it in the Mediterranean Countries around the year 1000.

According to some scholars, the lemon tree is a natural hybrid of the cedar (Citrus Medica) and the lime (Citrus Aurantifolia). The height of a lemon tree varies between 3 and 6 metres. It is a lovely evergreen with many branches, with a grey cortex and bright leaves, reddish when young and with the hues of green when old, often elliptical and without stipules. During the vegetative activity, the leaves are examined to check possible nutritional deficiencies or vegetative stresses of the plant (leaf exam).
The fruit is ovoid-shaped with umbo at the apex, a light yellow skin and a yellowish pulp with a very sour taste.

Different typologies of plant exist:

  • Lemon tree with a globose fruit
  • Pear-shaped lemon
  • Umbo-less lemon
  • Lemon with a ruddy pulp
  • Sweet lemon
  • Lemon tree with sharp leaves

The lemon tree is very susceptible to cold temperatures and loses completely its leaves around -4/5° C. If the temperature drops further, also the cortex risks to be damaged.
Flowers and fruit can resist up to -2° C. The plants are very susceptible to the wind, too.

The fruit of the lemon tree do not require high temperatures to reach total ripeness. In periods of great drought a constant irrigation is necessary; anyway, the tree grows well also in a poor land, even though the optimal PH is between 5.5 and 6.6.

The producing Countries:

  • Italy: 90% Sicily; Campania and Calabria what is left
  • USA: above all the Californian zone
  • Mexico
  • India
  • Spain
  • Argentina
  • Israel
  • Turkey

When lemon joins sour and sweet orange

Citrus volkameriana
The volkamerian lemon is a hybrid of the Citrus limon (lemon) and the Citrus aurantium (sour orange). The leaves, elliptical and middle/small-sized, are deep green. The buds have violet hues and the fruit are rounded-shaped and middle-sized. The skin recalls that of the orange and the pulp has a sour taste, close to that of the lemon. It is often used as planting for other species. Particularly suitable for melted or sandy grounds, it has a good resistance to frost.

Citrus meyeri
Among the variants of the common lemon, the oriental one, or Citrus meyeri, or Lemon Meyer, is a natural hybrid of the lemon (Citrus limon) and the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and comes from China. The inflorescences have the usual violet hue and reproduce all the year round. The fruit is very similar to the common lemon, although it is less sour and more rich in juice. As a method of propagation the slip gets a very good result. This species, appreciated also for its good resistance to temperatures, is one of the most used for ornamental purposes.