Citrus limon (Lemon)
An ornamental tree with showy flowers that is popularly and widely grown for its edible and aromatic fruits, as well as for its culinary and medicinal purposes.
Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :
- Botanical Name: Citrus limon (syn.: Citrus x limonia, Citrus x meyeri, Citrus medica var. limon).
- Family Name: Rutaceae.
- Etymology: The genus name Citrus is from classical Latin.
Origin: Native to Asia.
It is also cultivated elsewhere around the globe.
- Plant type: An ornamental and evergreen tree with edible fruits.
Features: Citrus limon is from the genus Citrus that consists of 31 accepted species of trees.
A favourite with horticulturists who have produced numerous cultivars.
It is a small evergreen tree with irregular growth habit and can reach between 3-6 m in height.
Usually, there are sharp thorns on the twigs.Its young foliage is initially purple to reddish, gradually turning dark green above and light green below.
The alternate leaves are ovate to lanceolate with finely toothed leaf margins, measuring 6.25-11.25 cm long and have slender wings on the petioles.
It produces purplish-white and mildly scented flowers in solitary or there may be two or more clustered in the leaf axils. Buds are reddish.
The bisexual and opened flowers have 4 or 5 petals and 2 cm long with about 20-40 united stamens with yellow anthers.
Its yellow and acidic fruits may be oval-shaped to ellipsoidal, measuring 7-12 cm long.
They have an apical mammilla, that is, a nipple-shaped structure on the end attached to the branch. Most fruits have a few seeds although some fruits are seedless. Its peel is usually light-yellow. It is aromatic, dotted with oil glands, 6-10 mm thick. Pulp is pale-yellow, in 8-10 segments and juicy.
Culture (Care): Citrus limon or Lemon can be grown easily with least maintenance.
Light: Full sun.
Moisture: Moderate water requirements. Water regularly and thoroughly.
Humus-enriched, loamy and well-drained soils. However, it has adapted to a wide range of soil types.
Others: Citrus requires minimal pruning. Trim overcrowded branches with the tallest branch cut back to encourage bushy growth. Pinch to control shape and stimulate flowering. Best to prune the tree when young and kept below 3-3.6 m tall. Feed the tree once every three months with a high nitrogen fertiliser to stimulate flowering, resulting in abundant fruiting. Generally free from serious pests and diseases. Nevertheless, watch out for mealybugs, red spiders and scale.
For subtropical and temperate regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone 9-11.
Citrus limon or Lemon trees need to be grown in a fertile and well-drained soil in a sunny position that’s protected from wind. During the growing season they need plenty of water and regular small applications of nitrogenous fertiliser to promote growth and fruit size. In non-hardy regions, grow the plant in a container to easily overwinter indoors and place it in a well-lit but not too warm location. A low temperatures in winter will encourage flowering. Place the tree outdoors in late spring to encourage natural pollination. Bring inside during autumn. Pinch to control shape and improve bloom. The fragrant flowers develop into fruits but it may take a year before they attain the correct maturity colour for harvesting. Because of its continuous state of growth, the Lemon is more sensitive to cold than the orange and less able to recover from cold injury. The tree is defoliated at -5.56º to 4.44º C. A temperature drop to -6.67º C will severely damage the wood unless there has been a fortnight of near-freezing weather to slow down growth. Flowers and young fruits are killed by -1.67º C and nearly mature fruits are badly damaged below -2.22º C. Lemons need a minimum temperature of around 7 °C, thus they are not hardy year round in temperate climates, but become hardier as they mature.
- Propagation: Easily propagated from seeds and cuttings.
Usage: Citrus limon or Lemon is primarily grown for its fruits that has countless culinary and medicinal uses. Lemon slices, juice and its rind are used in a wide variety of foods and drinks, including to make marmalade, added to pancakes, puddings, lemon curd/liqueur, lemonade, to marinade fish and tenderize meat, garnish food, drinks.
Its leaves are used to make a tea and for preparing cooked meats and seafoods. Its juice is used as a cleaning agent to brighten copper cookware, remove grease, bleach stains and disinfect, grime and non-toxic insecticide. Freeze your lemon, grate it and sprinkle on your foods, including veggies, salads, ice-cream, soup, cereals, spaghetti sauces, etc. to get the wonderful aromatic taste. Lemons are proven remedy against cancer of all kinds. Lemon peel oil is much used in furniture polishes, detergents, soaps, shampoos, floral perfumes and colognes. Lemonade when applied to potted plants has been found to keep their flowers fresh longer than normal. In Mexico, the fine-grained and compact wood is carved into chessmen, toys, small spoons and other articles. Lemon juice is widely known as a diuretic, antiscorbutic, astringent, febrifuge, cold remedy and a daily laxative. Oil expressed from lemon seeds is employed medicinally. The root decoction is taken as a treatment for fever in Cuba and gonorrhea in West Africa.
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