My Friend, the Humble Lemon
Citrus limon ‘Eureka’
Whether it’s dad pissing on the lemon tree in the backyard or afternoons spent roaming the neighbourhood nicking exposed lemons, a lot of us have good-time memories of this humble yet ubiquitous tree. Can you even call it a backyard without one?
a) Average expected life of tree, in years, from sprout to death (approx numbers)
- 50-100 years.
b) Years until trees first fruit (ie some trees fruit within a few years, others can take decades)
- May bloom early but buds and flowers should be snipped off to preserve the tree’s energy until it reaches about 3 years.
c) Season of year when productive tree fruits (ie Summer, Autumn, Winter Spring or combo ie Su/Au)
- Year-round but main burst in Winter.
d) Expected or average number years tree expected to fruit for once it begins. (ie year 8 to 20 = 12 yrs)
- 47-97 years.
e) Country/area of origin
- South Asia and north-eastern India.
- The Eureka variety is from California, 1858
f) Average annual rainfall in area of origin
- South Asia: 60-200 cm
- North-eastern India: 100-200 cm
- California: 54.5 cm
g) Latin name of tree and family
- Latin name: Citrus limon
- Family: Rutaceae
h) Any other products, benefits, useful or interesting facts about tree
- Can grow as hedge or privacy screen
- Can grow dwarf varieties in pots
- Wood can be used for firewood or smoking food after 6 months’ drying.
- Wood is bark-free (no mess), splits easily, not smokey, loud or pungent when burnt, and burns longer than softwoods.
- Lemon leaves can be used in cooking: steaming, marinades, flavouring, oils
- Lemons have enormous variety of uses: in cooking, as a digestive, alkaline body, cleaning agent, air freshener, face cleanser, hair lightener.
i) Height, width and shape of tree at maturity.
- Foliage is spreading and sparse, low to ground
- Height: 4-6 meters
- Arbour diameter: 4-6 meters
- Trunk diameter: 20-30 cm
j) challenges or special requirements, such as needing other varieties in order to fruit
- Prune between February and April or any time the tree is flowering.
- Food-loving: feed 3-4 times a year
- Water often when young and when fruiting
- Plant in sunny area away from frost
- Fewer thorns than other varieties
- Prone to:
- citrus leaf miner, scale and sooty mould – apply pest/white oil.
- ants – may be attracted by sooty mould, see above.
- aphids – apply pyrethrum or confidor, or squash with fingers.
- citrus gall wasp (lumps) – prune off damaged foliage before August when wasp eggs are laid.
- Companion plants to draw away pests:
- Marigolds, petunias and borage act as repellants
- Nasturtiums attract aphids away from tree
- More companion plants
By Carmen Reilly
About The Author
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