Specialty Produce

Meyer Lemon

Availability: Peak season in most areas is November, December, and January

Source: California, Texas and Florida.

General Information: The Meyer lemon is thought to be a botanical cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange. This variety originates in China where it is commonly potted as an ornamental plant. Introduced to the United States in 1908 by Frank Meyer, it is slightly sweeter than the classic commercial varieties of Lemons (Eureka and Lisbon). The fruit is yellow and matures in a more round than ovate shape when compared to the other lemon varieties. Meyer lemons have a slight orange tint when ripe. The Meyer Lemon is a favorite of chefs and gourmets because of it's low acidity. The rind lacks the typical lemon peel citrus aroma and the pulp is a dark yellow. The complex flavor and aroma hints of a combination of sweet lime, lemon and mandarin. The Meyer Lemon has a soft skin that develops an orange hue when fruit is fully ripe, and its distinctive, mystical flavor combines lemon with a hint of tangerine.

History: Originally from China, the Meyer lemon was introduced to the United States in 1908 as S.P.I. #23028, by the agricultural explorer Frank Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China. Unfortunately, the original Meyer specimen was prone to CTV (citrus tristeza virus), which didn't harm the lemon tree itself but which could spread to other citrus varieties.

Finally, in the 1950s, Don Dillon, Sr. discovered a virus-free clone. All Meyer Lemon trees propagated in California now derive from that "improved" mother tree.