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Citrus ID







Cultivar or taxon


Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f. [=C. x limon (L.) Osbeck, pro sp.] (sensu Swingle and Reece 1967); Citrus limetta Risso (sensu Tanaka sec. Cottin 2002)



Hodgson (1967) noted that:

"There are three remarkably similar and evidently closely related lemon-like fruits which, in the opinion of the writer, constitute a natural group, probably best designated as the limettas—namely, the Millsweet so-called sweet lemon, the Mediterranean or Tunisian (to distinguish it from the Indian or Palestinian) sweet lime and the Moroccan limetta or Marrakech limonette. The last fruit is comparatively little known and not until recently has an adequate description become available (Chapot 1962). All three fruits are obviously closely related to the lemon but exhibit differences in common that indicate close interrelationship and common ancestry."

"In the writer's opinion, the limettas constitute a well defined group of which the Moroccan limetta (Marrakech limonette) may be considered to represent the normal acid form, the Millsweet limetta a low acid form (comparable to Dorshapo lemon), and the Mediterranean sweet limetta the acidless form."



Crown compact or dense, not weeping. First-year twig surface glabrous or pubescent; second- or third-year twig surface striate; thorns absent or not persistent or straight; prickles absent or not persistent. Petiole glabrous, length short; wings absent. Leaflets one, margin bluntly toothed or serrate/serrulate, shade leaflet blades weakly conduplicate, sun leaflet blades weakly conduplicate. Scent of crushed leaflets spicy, peppery, or freshly lemon-like. Fruit broader than long, as broad as long, or longer than broad; rind green-yellow (6), yellow (7-10), yellow-orange (11), or orange (12); rind texture slightly rough (4-5), medium rough (6-7), or rough (8); firmness leathery; navel absent; flesh orange or yellow; taste acidic-sweet or sour.


Hodgson (1967) provided the following additional notes on the species:


“While exhibiting certain basic similarities, the true limes constitute a highly varied group of which the members differ so significantly that separate species standing appears to be justified. They fall into two natural groups, however, the acid or sour limes and the acidless or sweet limes. The acid limes include small-fruited and large-fruited kinds and varieties.


While similarities exist between the small-fruited and large-fruited acid limes, the differences are much greater. Moreover, there are marked differences in climatic tolerances and reactions as well as in resistance or susceptibility to certain diseases. Their separation into different species seems therefore justified.


The tree differences are notable. Thus, the West Indian lime is less vigorous and robust than the Tahiti, much finer-stemmed, very much thornier, and has much smaller leaves of a distinctly paler color. It is much more cold-sensitive (about like the citron) and requires more heat to develop good fruit size. In contrast with the Tahiti lime, it is highly susceptible to the withertip fungus (Gloeosporium limetticolum), citrus canker (Xanthomonas citri), and the tristeza virus, for which it is currently the most widely used indicator plant. It is markedly resistant to the citrus scab fungus (Elsinoë fawcetti).

The fruit differences are less marked, but in addition to the larger size of fruit the Tahiti group is virtually or entirely seedless, and the odor, while similar, is less pronounced. The flavor, though about equally acid, lacks the strong pungency and aroma of the West Indian lime.”



Chapot, H. 1962. Trois citrus Marocains. Al Awamia [Rabat] 2: 47–81.

Cottin, R. 2002. Citrus of the World: A citrus directory. Version 2.0. France: SRA INRA-CIRAD.

Hodgson, R.W. 1967. Horticultural varieties of Citrus. In: Reuther, W., H.J. Webber, and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry, rev. University of California Press.

Swingle, W.T. and P.C. Reece. 1967. The botany of Citrus and its wild relatives. In: Reuther, W., H.J. Webber, and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry. Ed. 2. Vol. I. University of California, Riverside.



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Citrus ID Edition 2
October, 2011