Lemon - Citrus limon

Lemon - Citrus limon

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Citrus limon is certainly the most cultivated citrus in the world; we all know it. The tree is of modest size, usually not exceeding 3-4 meters in height; the foliage is evergreen, dark, shiny and slightly leathery, with a pointed oval shape; the stem is erect and single, quite broad, and carries a fine thick crown, with the branches often semi-woody, which in many varieties are equipped with long and sharp spines; the flowers are white, very fragrant, with the petals of violet-streaked buds, they bloom at the end of winter, but some varieties also bloom at the end of summer or at other times of the year, it is therefore likely to be able to see a flowering tree, which also bears ripe fruit and small fruit trees. The fruits are very typical and difficult to confuse with other citrus fruits: they are oval or pear-shaped, quite small, when ripe the peel is light yellow, glossy and generally thick; even when ripe, the flavor of the pulp remains very sour and aromatic. The fruits of the lemon have the particular characteristic of continuing to ripen even if already detached, so they can be picked still green and firm, and transported or stored until the time of marketing, which can take place weeks later. Most of the lemons that are grown are later used by the industry, to get the juice, or even citric acid and pectin, to be used in the canning industry. For this reason, the most appreciated and cultivated lemons have a very sour taste and a very rich pulp of juice; there are dozens of varieties of lemons, some of which have a sweet pulp, but unfortunately they also do not have the typical preservation characteristics of the other lemons, and it is therefore difficult to find them on the market, if not in the production areas.

The classification of lemon

Lemons or citrus limon and the other citrus fruits have been cultivated by man for millennia, it was therefore difficult to understand which citrus fruit was the ancestor from which all the others were derived, thanks to numerous hybridizations; the lemon is not a botanical species, but a horticultural hybrid, produced by man. The hybridizations that led to this fruit are so distant in time, that today we tend to consider it a distinct species, with peculiar characteristics, which remain however unchanged only if we propagate it by cuttings or by grafting, since the wild lymphs, obtained from seed, generally do not produce flowers and fruits. The botanical name is therefore citrus limon and it is probably a plant native to central Asia; it was the Saracens who brought the plant to Europe, and even today their presence in cultivation is stronger in the Mediterranean areas, where they have therefore been cultivated for centuries. There are various varieties of lemons, with botanical names attributed centuries ago, or even with commercial fancy names, for contemporary varieties. Typically, the new varieties of citrus limon, have very juicy fruits, with very acid pulp and very aromatic peel, and also tend to be very re-flowering, producing fruit practically all year long.

Some varieties:Vanilla lemon

Lemon vanilla is one of the uncommon varieties, which we hardly find from the greengrocer, but quite cultivated in Italy; the fruits are almost round, and have a very thin and light-colored skin; the pulp contains large amounts of juice, and the taste is medium acid. The plants are of medium size, and usually this variety is kept small, to be sold as an ornamental plant.

Volkamerian lemon

The volkamerian lemon, citrus x volkameriana, is a quite particular citrus fruit: the appearance is that of a small orange with a thick skin, while the flavor is that of the citrus limon, sour and aromatic. Often this variety is used for hybridizations. Like the variety meyer, citrus x meyeri, it is very resistant to cold (or at least, more than other varieties of lemon) and is very fruitful.

Feminine lemon

The female variety is the most cultivated in Italy; the Femminello del Gargano lemon is very famous, but there are cultivations of feminine varieties also in Sicily and in other parts of our country; these lemons are very flourishing, and produce throughout the year; the fruits are of medium size, firm and compact, with a fairly thin skin. The shape can be round or elongated, and often have a pointed apex. Very juicy, these lemons are sold for home consumption or even for the canning industry.

Lemon Primofiore

Also this variety of citrus limon is widespread in our country, typically the Primofiore lemons, as the name suggests, are the first to bloom in the year, since they are in bloom for all the autumn and winter months, from October, up to March or April. The shape of the fruits is roundish, the fragrant pulp and the thin skin. Sicilian lemons often belong to the Primofiore variety.

Lemon Eureka

Varieties of Californian origin, eureka lemons are easily distinguishable even when the plant is not in fruit, in fact the foliage is conspicuously variegated with white or cream; also the fruits are variegated, and they wear dark green stripes, very showy; in addition to this, the flesh of the eureka lemons is pale pink, which makes them even more special. In Italy, unfortunately, they are still difficult to find, but surely they are destined to become a variety of lemon widely used as an ornamental plant.


Cedar is a citrus fruit very similar to lemon, but not belonging to the same species; the citron, citrus medica, is one of the original species, from which all the citrus fruits grown today are derived. The fruits look like lemons, but the dimensions are much greater; the pulp represents a small part of the fruit, which consists almost completely of peel and albedo (the white skin that in many citrus fruits is very bitter); some varieties of cedar are completely sour, others are very sweet (both pulp and peel). Cedar is hardly found on the market for fresh consumption, candied or marmalade cedars are more easily found. These citrus fruits are mainly cultivated for the extraction of essential oil, used in the food industry and in the production of drugs. A very particular cedar is that of the ethrog variety, used for the feast of tabernacles in Palestine: it has enormous dimensions, a fruit can weigh a few kilograms, and the whole fruit is sweet and juicy, both the pulp and the peel, and l 'albedo.

Growing lemons

Lemons, and many other citrus fruits, have for millennia become typical vegetation of the Mediterranean area; for this reason in the collective imagination they should be saplings that like a Mediterranean climate, that is very hot and little water; In fact, lemons originated in India, where the minimum seasonal and maximum temperatures are similar to the Mediterranean ones, but rainfall and environmental humidity are decidedly different. Therefore, if we decide to cultivate a citrus fruit tree, the main challenge we face is that of watering and environmental humidity. In fact, these plants do not like prolonged drought, and prefer a mild climate; they can withstand temperatures of some degrees below zero, which, however, often affects fruiting, given that the main and most abundant blooms occur precisely in winter. Therefore, we place our lemon in a very sunny area, and sheltered from the strong winter winds, in a fertile and loose soil, very well drained, which does not cause the formation of water stagnations, which the plant does not tolerate in any way. Let us remember to water the lemon regularly, therefore little in the cool and wet months, and often and abundantly during the warm and dry months; together with watering, we also guarantee regular fertilization, spreading a slow release fertilizer around the stem, or with liquid products, to be mixed with the water used for watering; citrus fruits are typically fertilized by adding chopped lupins to the soil and wetting the foliage with foliar fertilizers, which are very well absorbed by the plants. In any case we avoid leaving the soil constantly wet or dry for a long time; we will have to be regular, watering every time the soil dries.

Lemons and the cold

If we live in an area where the winter climate is very cold, we will have to repair our citrus limon from October until the arrival of spring. The main problem lies in the fact that it is precisely the period in which the plants bloom, and therefore need a good insolation, a cool and humid climate and the correct watering and fertilizing. So, if we are forced to close the lemon in a cold greenhouse, we try not to forget it, as it will need watering also in January, and especially in the dry climate of the cold greenhouse. If we have to cover the plant with towels or other materials, we try to leave it exposed to the elements, otherwise it will be too difficult to supply the correct watering. Lemons are often grown in pots, such as ornamental plants, if possible, during the winter months, we avoid placing the pot in the house, as in homes the climate is too hot and dry. We can simply move the vase on a south-facing terrace, leaning against the house wall, without forgetting to periodically water and vaporize the foliage on sunny days. Even the fertilizations will continue even during the cold months.

Prune the lemons

The lemons are pruned in the summer, this because in the periods in which the other plants are usually pruned, or in spring and autumn, the lemons are in complete vegetation and are usually preparing flowers and fruits. The prunings are of slight entity, and are usually carried out only to clean up the hair from broken or damaged branches, or particularly attacked by parasites. In addition to this the so-called suckers are removed, that is the strong and vigorous branches that grow erect, perfectly straight; these branches are destined not to produce flowers, although they develop very quickly, and they must be removed or they will tend to absorb all the nutrients of the plant. The lemons that we find on the market are usually grafted, as wild plants, from seed, tend to never bloom; It is essential to always and suddenly remove any branches that develop below the graft point, as they are not floriferous branches.

Pests and diseases of the lemon

The main problem that must be faced that cultivates lemons, is linked to watering: scarce, and we will have a plant constantly suffering; excessive, and our citrus limon will suffer from radical rot; the more the waterings are regular and the healthier our lemon will be. In the nursery most of the customers who complain about the death of their lemon tree are people who have closed the plant in October and found it without leaves. Lemons are often attacked by scale insects, especially if they live in greenhouses, where the climate is very dry and with poor ventilation. The young shoots can be attacked by aphids, and the flower buds are often struck by the fruit fly's lares, which then nest in the fruit.

Propagate lemons

Lemon fruits contain a lot of seeds, so it is easy to get a small plant simply by placing these seeds on the ground, simply extracting them from a fruit and letting them dry in the sun for a couple of days; sowing takes place in spring or autumn, keeping the seedbed in a bright, fresh and moist place. The young plants should be grown in pots for at least a couple of years, at home, before finding a place in the garden or in a large vase. The lemons born from seed tend not to produce flowers, therefore the propagation of a particularly interesting species or variety of lemon must necessarily take place by grafting; the graft most performed by citrus fruit producers is the crown one, because it allows grafting new branches even on a very old tree, with a very large stem; for a small lemon you can also make a split graft, inserting one or more small branches in the trunk taken from a productive tree. Lemons also multiply by cutting, picking up the tips of the branches that did not bring flowers, in late spring or in summer; the twigs are deprived of leaves in the lower part and immersed in the rooting hormone, and therefore in the ground; the trays with the cuttings should be kept moist and in a bright place but not exposed to direct sunlight, until they have begun to sprout. Remember, however, that it is not said that our lemon obtained from cuttings is healthy and productive, in fact the graft is also practiced to develop a very fruitful lemon on a rootstock that is not very susceptible to disease, or which is very vigorous and strong.

Lemon - Citrus limon: The lemon

Lemons, or citrus limon, are among the most used citrus fruits, in the kitchen, in herbal medicine, in medicines, in the food industry. Already on the tables of the ancient Romans there were lemons, which already then were used for their antibacterial and antioxidant properties; in fact the properties of this citrus were already known in ancient times. The lemon is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which makes lemon an essential ingredient when cooking fruit, especially when it comes to fruits that oxidize quickly, such as bananas, apples, avocados; the lemon juice is then added to fruit salads, jellies and jams. The active ingredients contained in the fruit are also exploited when preparing meat or fish, both raw and cooked, because lemon juice kills part of the bacteria present in the carpaccio or in the fish to eat raw, and allows the meat to become softer . The essential oils contained in the peel are used as flavoring, in drinks, sauces, detergents. Lemon juice has a strong cleansing power and in ancient times lemon peels were added to the water to wash the dishes, and they were also used to clean copper tableware. Pectin is also obtained from lemon peels, a natural gelling agent, which is added to jams or other food preparations.
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