Botanical descriptionThe lemon tree grows to 6 m (20 ft) tall, and has stout spines. The leaves are dark green, leathery, and evergreen, oblong, elliptical, or oval and up to 14 cm (4 in) long; in contrast to several other citrus species, the petioles (leaf stems) are not winged or only narrowly winged. Flower buds are purplish but flowers open to have 5 white petals, up to 5 cm across. Fruits are globose to oblong, 7.5 to 12.5 cm long, and ripen to yellow, with smooth to bumpy rinds dotted with oil glands.
Peel, Skin, Rind
Although the fruit is very acid, once eaten it has an alkalizing effect upon the body. This makes it useful in the treatment of rheumatic conditions. The skin of the ripe fruit is carminative and stomachic. The essential oil from the skin of the fruit is strongly rubefacient and when taken internally in small doses has stimulating and carminative properties. The stem bark is bitter, stomachic and tonic. An essential oil from the fruit rind is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Refreshing'. Citrus species contain a wide range of active ingredients and research is still underway in finding uses for them. They are rich in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, acids and volatile oils. They also contain coumarins such as bergapten which sensitizes the skin to sunlight. Bergapten is sometimes added to tanning preparations since it promotes pigmentation in the skin, though it can cause dermatitis or allergic responses in some people. Some of the plants more recent applications are as sources of anti-oxidants and chemical exfoliants in specialized cosmetics.The bioflavonoids in the fruit help to strengthen the inner lining of blood vessels, especially veins and capillaries, and help counter varicose veins and easy bruising.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame.Layering in October.
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Dormant plants can withstand temperatures down to about -6°c so long as this is preceded by a spell of 2 - 3 weeks of cool weather to allow the plant to acclimatize. If the change from mild to cold weather is more sudden then the plant will still be in growth and will be much more susceptible to damage and can be harmed by temperatures below 0°c. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. It is best if a winter minimum of 4°c is maintained. The lemon is widely grown for its edible fruit in warm temperate and tropical zones, there are many named varieties. In Britain it can be grown in a pot that is placed outdoors in the summer and brought into a greenhouse for the winter. By budding onto hardier species such as C. aurantium, C. ichangensis or Poncirus trifoliata, the lemon becomes more cold tolerant and its climatic range can be somewhat extended. The flowers are sweetly scented.Plants dislike root disturbance and so should be placed into their permanent positions when young. If growing them in pots, great care must be exercised when potting them on into larger containers.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
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