Lemon, the name of a citrus fruit and the tree that bears it. The lemon tree is native to southeastern Asia and probably originated in India. It grows 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 m) tall, with wide-spreading branches. The leaves are oblong and grow to four inches (10 cm) in length. The flowers are white with reddish markings. The lemon fruit is three to five inches (7.5 to 12.5 cm) long with a nipple at one or both ends.
The fruit contains a flavorful, acid juice that is rich in vitamin C. Lemon juice is used in beverages, salad dressings, and pastries. It is also used to flavor fish and other foods. The peel is cooked in sugar syrup to make candied lemon peel, for use in pastries. Lemon oil, pressed from the peel, is used to make lemon extracta flavoring used in pastries and candiesand in making perfumes, cosmetics, furniture polish, and detergents.
Lemons are grown in all tropical and subtropical regions. The leading producers are the United States, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece. In the United States lemons are grown chiefly in California and Arizona.Lemons are yellow citrus fruits with tart juice and fragrant oil.
Lemon trees grown from seed produce rough-skinned fruits, often of great size. These rough lemons contain a bitter, unpalatable juice. Year-old rough-lemon seedlings, however, are sometimes used in producing cultivated lemons. Seedlings of other citrus species are more generally used. A bud of a selected lemon variety is grafted on a seedling. After the bud has sprouted, the part of the stem above the bud is removed. The bud thus becomes the trunk of the tree.
The trees are spaced 25 to 30 feet (7.5 to 9 m) apart in the orchard. Flowers, fruits, and trees are injured by subfreezing temperatures. In freezing weather, therefore, orchards are warmed by oil heaters, or by wind machines that draw down warm air. They also are protected from frost by warm smoke produced by orchard heaters or commercial smoke machines.
Lemons are picked while still green, because fruits that ripen on the trees do not keep well. The pickers wear gloves and handle the fruits as carefully as eggs, for the slightest scratch or bruise will cause the fruit to decay. Each picker carries a ring 2 ¼ inches (5.7 cm) in diameter and cuts off every fruit that is too large to pass through the ring.
The lemons are stored in dark, well-ventilated curing houses. The cured fruits develop tough, silky, yellow skins, and can be stored for several months.
The lemon is Citrus limon of the rue, or orange, family, Rutaceae.