AZ Arboretums

Citrus limon

Desert zinnia

Common: Lemon
Family: Rutaceae
Origin: Origins are in doubt; some say it originated in India's Indus Valley, others think its a much newer plant, possibly a hybrid of the lime and citron, appearing in Italy.
Zones: 8, 9, 12-24 and indoors
Light: Full sun
Soil: Will grow in almost any soil as long as it is well-drained. Has the reputation of tolerating very infertile, very poor soil.
Water: Lemons are grown in both dry and humid conditions, the latter being a disadvantage mainly in the processes of curing and storage. In long dry periods, lemons must be irrigated.

Need moist soil, but never freestanding water.

The leading acid citrus fruit, because of its very appealing color, odor and flavor.

The true lemon tree reaches 10 to 20 feet in height and usually has sharp throrns on the twigs. Leaves are reddish when young, and become dark green above, light green below. Mildly fragrant flowers may be solitary, or there may be two or more. Buds are reddish. Opened flowers have 4 or 5 petals, white on upper surface, purplish beneath. Fruit is oval with nipple-like protuberance at apex, usually light-yellow. It is aromatic, dotted with oil glands. Pulp is pale yellow, in 8 to 10 segments, juicy, acid. Yields vary considerably with the cultivar, the location and weather conditions.

The true home of the lemon tree is unknown. It is supposed to have been introduced into southern Italy in 200 A.D. and to have been cultivated in Iraq and Egypt by 700 A.D. It reached Sicily before 1000 and China between 760 and 1297 A.D. Arabs distributed it widely in the Mediterranean region between 1174 and 1193. Christopher Columbus carried lemon seeds to Hispaniola in 1493. They were grown in California in 1751-1768. Lemons were reported to be increasingly planted in northeastern Florida in 1839.