- Scientific name: Citrus medica
- Family: Rutaceae (rue, citrus)
Small tree or shrub up to 5m tall. Twigs flushed with purple when young. Leaves up to 18cm long. Flower buds tinged purple, flowers with white petals flushed with pink. Fruits vast, ovoid (three-dimensionally egg-shaped) or oblong, weighing up to 2.5kg, skin yellow and rough when ripe. Pollinated by honeybees, bumblebees, thrips and mites.
Citrus plants growing in Eden's Mediterranean Biome
Monroe tells the fascinating story of how citrus plants can produce some interesting hybrids.Play video
- No, the fruits of this tree aren’t lemons on steroids, although they are from the citrus family. In fact, these giants are almost all rind and pith, or 'albedo'.
- It was possibly the first citrus cultivated in Europe and may have come overland from Persia on the caravan routes. Greek scholar and ‘father of botany’ Theophrastus learned of the citron from the scholars who accompanied Alexander the Great.
- Jewish mythology identified the citron or ‘etrog’ with the forbidden fruit of Eden and it was believed that eating it when pregnant produced a male child.
Where it grows
The citron possibly originated in north-east India and is now cultivated in subtropical and tropical regions. It needs rainfall of 900–3000mm.