The Q&A Archives: meyer or eureka ?

Question: what is the difference between meyer and eureka lemons ?

Answer: The Meyer lemon (Citrus ? meyeri) is originally from China and thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange or sweet orange. 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. It is commonly grown in China potted as an ornamental plant.

Meyer lemon trees are around 6 to 10 feet (2?3 meters) tall at maturity, though can be pruned smaller. Its leaves are dark green and shiny, young leaves and shoots are dark purple. The flowers are white with a purple base and fragrant. The fruit is yellow and rounder than a true lemon with a slight orange tint when ripe. It has a sweeter, less acidic flavor than the more common lemon (Lisbon or Eureka are typical grocery store varieties) and a fragrant edible skin.

Meyer lemons are reasonably hardy, but grow well in a warm climate. They are also fairly vigorous. A tree usually begins fruiting in four years. Most fruit is produced from December to April, but fruit can be produced in any season. Trees require adequate water, but less in the winter. For maximum yield, they should be fertilized during growing periods.

Meyer lemons are popular as ornamental plants due to their compact size, hardiness and productivity. They are highly decorative and are suitable for container growing.

The Eureka lemon is probably the most widely grown lemon variety in the world. It is a true 'bitter' lemon with a high juice and acid content. With correct plant nutrition, fruit should be thin-skinned and virtually seedless. Fruit tends to be borne in terminal clusters.

According to the Citrus Industry, fruit is medium-small, elliptical to oblong, sometimes obovate; commonly with short neck or low collar at base; usually short but sometimes long. Seed content variable but usually few to none. Color yellow at maturity. Rind medium-thick; surface finely pitted with sunken oil glands, slightly rugose, commonly with low longitudinal ridges; tightly adherent. Segments about 10; axis small and usually solid. Flesh color greenish-yellow; fine-grained, tender, juicy; flavor highly acid. Crop well distributed throughout year, but mainly in late winter, spring, and early summer.

Tree is medium in vigor and size, spreading and open in growth habit, virtually thornless; sparsely foliated (in comparison with Lisbon and others); strongly everbearing and produces fruit at the ends of long branches; very productive.

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