Tree Profile: The Lemon Tree
The lemon tree (Latin name Citrus Limon) is one of the most popular citrus trees that can be grown indoors or outside. The exact origins of the lemon tree are unknown but it is believed they may have come from Northwestern India and then imported into Italy around 200 A.D. From this time the lemon tree was distributed around the world by travelers and in 1493 Christopher Columbus took lemon seeds to Hispaniola. Lemons today are grown all over the world. The largest exporters and producers of lemons are Argentina, Chile, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, South Africa and Australia.
Lemon Trees are three to six meters in height and have twigs that extrude sharp thorns. The leaves of the lemon tree are a reddish color when they are young turning dark-green above and light green below as they mature. The leaves are oblong in shape with an elliptical curve and usually about 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches long. The flowers on the lemon tree are fragrant and are found on the tree on their own or in pairs. The buds of the flowers are red in color. When the flower opens, the petals are white on the outside and purplish underneath. The flowers have four or five petals and these are about ¾ of an inch in length. The fruit of the lemon tree is yellow in color and oval in shape with a nipple-like protuberance at each end. The fruit is aromatic, dotted with oil glands and has a thick skin.
The lemon tree prefers a cool temperature for growing, usually around the low 50’s (Fahrenheit). The lemon tree grows all year round and is particularly affected by climate changes. If it gets too cold the tree may not recover and equally if it gets too hot; the flowers and fruit will perish. The lemon tree will grow in many types of soil and is known for tolerating infertile ground extremely well. In Florida the trees are grown mostly on sandy ground and in California on silty clay loam.
The lemon is sold all over the world and used in many different cuisines and cultures. Lemon is used on fish and meat. Lemon can be served in drinks such as iced tea, lemonade and as an accompaniment to soft drinks such as cola. In Columbia, lemon soup is made and lemon peel and juice is used widely in baking.
The thorns on the branches of the lemon tree can inflict punctures and scratches. The lemon peel oil on the skin of the lemon can cause dermatitis to those who pick lemons or handle them frequently. In some people sucking lemons has produced irritation and eruptions around the mouth. The saw-dust from lemon trees can also induce skin reactions to sensitive workers.