The lemon is the fruit of a citrus plant belonging to the genus Citrus lemon.
Lemons entered Europe near southern Italy no later than the 2nd century AD, during time of Ancient Rome.
The lemon was introduced into Spain and North Africa sometime between the years 1000 and 1200 AD. It was further distributed through Europe by the Crusaders, who found it growing in Palestine.
The first substantial cultivation of lemons in Europe began in Genoa around 1450 AD.
Lemons came to the New World in 1493, when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola.
Spanish conquest throughout the New World helped spread lemon seeds.
In the 19th century, lemons were increasingly planted in Florida and California.
The average lifespan of lemon trees is over 50 years. With proper care and disease prevention practices, a vigorous tree can live over 100 years.
The lemon tree is small evergreen tree reaches 3 to 6 meters (10 to 20 feet) in height and usually has sharp thorns on the twigs.
The leaves are alternate, reddish when young, become dark-green above, light-green below; are oblong, elliptic or long-ovate, 6.25 to 11.25 centimeters (2 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches) long, finely toothed, with slender wings on the petioles.
The flowers are mildly fragrant and may be solitary or there may be 2 or more clustered in the leaf axils. Buds are reddish; the opened flowers have 4 or 5 petals 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) long, white on the upper surface (inside), purplish beneath (outside), and 20-40 more or less united stamens with yellow anthers.
The fruit is oval with a broad, low, apical nipple and forms 8 to 10 segments. The outer rind, or peel, yellow when ripe and rather thick in some varieties, is prominently dotted with oil glands. The white spongy inner part of the peel, called the mesocarp or albedo, is nearly tasteless and is the chief source of commercial grades of pectin. The seeds are small, ovoid, and pointed; occasionally fruits are seedless. The pulp is decidedly acidic.
Lemon trees usually bloom throughout the year, and the fruit is picked 6 to 10 times a year. One tree can produce between 225 and 270 kilograms (500 and 600 pounds) of lemons in a year.
A whole raw lemon contains 139 percent of the daily recommended vitamin C intake and has 22 calories.
The health benefits of lemons are due to its many nutritious elements like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, niacin thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus and protein. Lemon also contains flavonoids, which are composites that contain antioxidant and cancer fighting properties. It helps prevent diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, fever, indigestion, as well as improve the skin, hair, and teeth.
Studies conducted at the American Urological Association highlight the fact that lemonade or lemon juice can eliminate the occurrence of kidney stones by forming urinary citrate, which prevents the formation of crystals.
Lemons have powerful antibacterial properties; experiments have found the juice of lemons destroy the bacteria of malaria, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and other deadly diseases.
The lemon peel contains the potent phytonutrient tangeretin, which has been proven to be effective for brain disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
According to The Reams Biological Ionization Theory (RBTI), the lemon is the ONLY food in the world that is anionic (an ion with a negative charge). All other foods are cationic (the ion has a positive charge.) This makes it extremely useful to health as it is the interaction between anions and cations that ultimately provides all cell energy.
In India, Ayurveda medicine values the lemon as a fruit and for its properties. It is sour, warm, promoter of gastric fire, light, good for vision, pungent and astringent.
Lemon juice, rind, and peel are used in a wide variety of foods and drinks.
Lemonade, made with lemon, sugar, and water, is a popular warm-weather beverage, and the juice itself is commonly added to tea.
The whole lemon is used to make marmalade, lemon curd and lemon liqueur.
In Morocco, lemons are preserved in jars or barrels of salt. The salt penetrates the peel and rind, softening them, and curing them so that they last almost indefinitely. The preserved lemon is used in a wide variety of dishes.
Lemon juice can be stored for later use by putting freshly squeezed lemon juice in ice cube trays until frozen, then store them in containers in the freezer.
Lemon juice is frequently used in the United Kingdom to add to pancakes, especially on Shrove Tuesday.
Lemons need a minimum temperature of around 7 °C (45 °F), so they are not hardy year round in temperate climates, but become hardier as they mature.
A study of the genetic origin of the lemon reported it to be hybrid between bitter orange (sour orange) and citron.
The origin of the word “lemon” may be Middle Eastern. The word draws from the Old French limon, then Italian limone, from the Arabic laymūn or līmūn, and from the Persian līmūn, a generic term for citrus fruit, which is a cognate of Sanskrit (nimbū, “lime”).
Once upon a time lemons were presented as gifts to kings because they were so rare.
The world’s heaviest lemon weighed 5.265 kg (11 lb 9.7 oz) on 8 January 2003 and was grown by Aharon Shemoel (Israel) on his farm in Kefar Zeitim, Israel. The lemon’s circumference was 74 cm (29 in) and 35 cm (13.7 in) high and it grew with another large lemon.
A bowl of fresh lemons will add fragrance and color to a room for days.
“When life gives you a lemon… squeeze it, mix it with six ounces of distilled water and drink twice daily.” – Jethro Kloss in his book Back to Eden.