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Growing Good Food at Home

Types of Lemons

Variegated pink lemons

Variegated pink lemons

Lemons are generally categorized as true lemons or as hybrids. This can be a bit confusing, since botanists don’t completely agree whether the lemon should be classified as Citrus limon or as Citrus x limon, implying the plant is actually a hybrid. Eureka and Lisbon lemons are widely considered to be true lemons; the rest are designated as hybridized varieties. Eureka and Lisbon lemons are what you’ll commonly find at your local supermarket.

Growers break lemons into four rough categories: Eureka-type, Lisbon-type, lemon hybrids, and rough lemons. The University of California Riverside’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences has grown a number of lemon varieties through its citrus collection program, not all of which are commercially available. Here’s a sampling of each type of lemon and their hybrids available to California gardeners; if you are outside California, check with your local nursery for available cultivars. Many of these cultivars are available throughout the country.

Eureka-type lemons

Eureka-type lemons

Produce crops mostly in late winter, spring, and early summer. Low acid; commonly found in grocery stores.

  • Allen Eureka lemon
  • Frost Eureka lemon
  • Old line Eureka lemon
  • Taylor Eureka lemon
  • Variegated Pink Eureka lemon
Lisbon Lemons

Lisbon Lemons

Produce several crops per year, but mostly winter and early spring. Similar in taste to Eureka, but juicier.

  • Dr. Strong Lisbon lemon
  • Frost Lisbon lemon
  • Monroe Lisbon lemon
  • Prior Lisbon lemon
  • Yen Ben Lisbon lemon
The improved Meyer lemon, a lemon hybrid

The improved Meyer lemon, a lemon hybrid

Lemon Hybrids:
Lemons cross-bred with other citrus varieties to produce unique cultivars, many of them sweeter than true lemons. Harvesting times vary.

  • Genoa lemon
  • Improved Meyer lemon
  • Ponderosa lemon hybrid
  • Villafranca lemon
  • Yuma Ponderosa lemon
Rough lemon

Rough lemon

Rough Lemons:
Bumpy, thick-rinded hybrids. Also called Bush lemons. Often used as rootstock for other lemon varieties, but have tasty flesh, rind, and zest.

  • Schaub rough lemon
  • UCLA rough lemon
  • Vangasay rough lemon

Which type of lemons have you grown? Do you have a preference? Please share your opinion.

  • Kathleen E.

    I’ve grown both dwarf Eureka and Meyer lemons. However, it’s my understanding that a Neyer is not a true lemon as it’s a “cross breed” of a lemon and and a blood orange and it eminated in China.
    It’s sweeter and I make lemon tarts out of them, which was my great grandmother’s recipe. We make them for all of our main holiday meals! Can you please confirm it’s origin and give me any more information regarding a Meyer lemon.
    Thank you.
    K. Eastlack


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