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Citron fruit on tree

No, the fruits of this tree aren’t lemons on steroids, although they are from the citrus family! Citron can be seen growing alongside many other varieties of lemon and orange in the Citrus Grove in the heart of our Mediterranean Biome.

Botanical description

  • 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.


Did you know?

Greek scholar and ‘father of botany’ Theophrastus learned of the citron from the scholars who accompanied Alexander the Great.
  • These giant fruits 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.
  • 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.

Citrus plants growing at Eden

Common uses

The use of the albedo pith as candied peel is well established in the food industry, but it also produces a soluble fibre for which there is a growing market in the US. The juice of the citron is used as a drink and as syrup.

Useful links

Shop for jam and chutney