Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Citrus limon ‘Lisbon’

A cultivar of Citrus limon (L.) Burm.f. A spiny irregularly branched tree with oval-oblong leaves, sometimes narrowly winged, and fragrant white flowers followed by oval yellow fruits, acid to the taste. To 4m or more. [RHSD, Hortus]. 



Horticultural & Botanical History

Recent studies suggest that the lemon is a hybrid between Citrus aurantianum L., the Sour Orange and Citrus medica L., the Citron. [Gulsen, O. and M. L. Roose, “Lemons: diversity and relationships with selected Citrus genotypes as measured with nuclear genome markers”, J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci, 126, 309-317 (2001)].

‘The lemon (Citrus limonum) is supposed to have sprung from the citron and was introduced into Palestine and Egypt by the Arabs in the tenth century, and into Europe at the time of the Crusades. While not so extensively cultivated as the orange, it is far more useful, being indispensable in cookery, confectionery, perfumery, and medicine. The tree is faster growing and larger than the orange, and exhales from every part when bruised a delicious perfume. The flowers are of greater size and tinged with purple. It not only thrives on a poorer soil, but is more productive and patient under neglect, though less hardy against cold.’ [American Fruit Culturist p.646/1911].

The following description of the Lisbon Lemon is of trees growing in Western Australia in 1903. ‘Lisbon (Portugal). Tree a strong grower, bears fruit all through the tree, not very early in coming into bearing; prolific bearer, and makes a larger tree than other varieties, for this reason the trees of this variety should be planted a good distance apart and not less than 24ft. from one another; quite thorny, but thorns decrease in size as the tree grows older. Fruit uniformly medium size, fine grain, sweet rind, very juicy and briskly acid; very few seeds; a good keeper; can be picked at any time of the year. There are several sub-varieties of the Lisbon, such as the “thornless” and the “variegated,” differing from the parent to the extent their names imply. When allowed to ripen on the tree the rind thickens, and the fruit is coarser.’ [Despeissis p.243/1903].

As the name suggests the Lisbon Lemon is believed to have originated in Portugal. Reputedly introduced to Britain in 1648. Probably brought to Australia as seed in 1824, but I have no confirmation of this. 



History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues as ‘True Lisbon thin-skinned lemon’ [Orange tribe no.19/1843].




Citrus limonium Osbeck is considered by some to be the true lemon, and, if correct, this name has the prior claim. However it is considered by others to be a separate plant, the Chinese Lemon, possibly a hybrid of Citrus limon and Citrus nobilis. For this reason it is omitted from the list of synonyms given here.



Published May 04, 2010 - 04:10 PM | Last updated Jul 22, 2011 - 05:11 PM

Family Rutaceae
Region of origin

Originally from tropical Asia, probably India, Burma and China

  • Citrus medica L. subsp. limon L.
  • Citrus limonum Risso
  • Citrus limonum Risso. var. vulgaris Risso. & Poit.
  • Citrus medica L. subsp. limonum (Risso). Wight et Arn. var. vulgaris Engl.
  • Citrus medica L. var. limon L.
  • Citrus medica L. var. limonum Hook. f.
  • Citrus medica L. var. limonum Risso.
  • Limon vulgaris Mill.


Common Name

Lemon, Lisbon Lemon

Name in the Camden Park Record

True Lisbon thin-skinned lemon            



Confidence level high