Lemon varieties. Different types of lemon trees. Sour lemon tree varieties. Sweet lemons. Sour pucker lemon types. Why are lemons sour? Where to purchase sweet lemon tree plants.
The immature fruit of Sanbokan, a sweet lemon
The links on this page lead to pages containing information and pictures of the various types of lemons and to lemon trees for sale. I have categorized the trees by fruit flavor.
Sour Lemon Trees
Why Are Lemons Sour?
Fruit flavor--any fruit--is determined by a delicate balancing act between acids and sugars as the fruit develops and ripens. This is mainly programmed by genetics but is helped along by climate and cultural influences.
A sweet fruit contains more sugars than acids. Even though you don't notice the acids in a sweet fruit, you would miss them if they were not present. The fruit would be bland or insipid. This type of fruit never makes it to market.
A sour fruit is balanced more to the acid side.
Sweet and sour lemons are the same with a small but significant difference. All lemons are sour. But some lemons are a lot less sour than others. These are called sweet lemons for the purpose of distinguishing them from the more acid types.
Lemons are sour because they develop more acids and less sugars than sweet citrus fruits.
This is a good thing.
Sour lemon juice is more usefull than sweet orange juice. Both make refreshing drinks. Both are used in cooking and baking. But lemon juice has cleansing and disinfecting properties that its sweet sister does not. Furthermore, the unique health benefits of lemon juice are contained in both sour and sweet lemon juice.
The following are sour lemon varieties:
Cold Hardy Genoa Lemon
Lemon - Lisbon
Lemon - Eureka
The Lisbon lemon is the most widely sold lemon variety in the world. It is the sour lemon most often carried by U.S. supermarkets. Its only rival for top spot is the similar Eureka lemon.
The Ponderosa lemon is not a true lemon but the juice of the large, seedy yellow fruit is tart enough to be used as a substitute for lemon juice in recipes. Growing a Ponderosa lemon tree is the best way to obtain the fruit.
The pink lemons produced by the variegated pink Eureka lemon tree will supply you with pitchers of pink lemonade all summer. The lemon of pink lemonade fame has a bumpy green and yellow striped rind. Only the flesh is pink.
The Rough lemon tree is a cross between a mandarin orange and a citron. Citrus x jambhiri 'Lush' fruit is of low quality so this lemon tree is used mainly as a rootstock for other citrus trees.
These are not "true" lemons which are botanically classified as Citrus limon. The sweet lemon tree is usually a lemon hybrid
or a cross between two other types of citrus. They are called sweet
lemons because the fruit of these trees tastes like a lemon only less
The Sanbokan lemon, Citrus sulcata 'Takahashi' is a sour orange hybrid. This sweet lemon variety's exact parentage is unknown but it was discovered in Japan around 1848.
The fruit looks like a medium sized orange with a prominent neck. The pebbled skin turns orange at maturity as does the flesh. It looks like an orange in every way but tastes more like a lemon.
The Sanbokan tree is large, bushy and shows better cold tolerance than most true lemons.
The fruit tastes good but is not marketable in the U.S. due to its seediness and orange color at maturity.
Meyer lemons are not actually sweet, they are just milder than most other lemons. The juice won't pucker you up if you taste it straight.
The fruit is heavy and juicier than that of a grocery store lemon. It makes delicious lemon meringue pie and, once you fall in love with this variety of lemon, you will certainly want to make Meyer lemon olive oil.
More Lemon-Flavored Fare:
Delicious Fruits You Can Grow at Home