Why's It Called the New & Improved Meyer Lemon Tree?

The improved Meyer lemon tree is a virus-free variant of the Meyer lemon tree imported into the United States from China. The original Meyer tree was banned from commercial production decades past. It took many years to bring the new, enhanced cultivar to advertise, but it has badly garnered attention from horticultural and culinary enthusiasts.

Meyer Lemon Tree

The Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri) is native to China. This hybrid citrus tree is sweeter and less acidic than accurate lemons, using a slimmer, creamy, deep yellow skin, and also a notable flowery scent. It had been released to america in 1908 by Frank N. Meyer, a agricultural explorer working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Meyer lemon tree was developed mostly in California, Florida and Texas until it had been connected with citrus viruses.

Citrus Virus

Meyer lemon trees were cultivated mainly as a backyard tree, instead of commercially, since their thin skin and juiciness made them difficult to ship. In the 1940s, Meyer lemons were determined to become a symptomless carrier of viruses fatal to citrus fruit, especially the tristeza virus. Due to the threat to the citrus business, the trees were finally destroyed, except for one stock that was declared free of infection. That inventory became the foundation for a better Meyer lemon.

Improved Meyer Lemon

A California grower discovered the virus-free breed of the Meyer lemon tree from the 1950s, and by 1975 it had been certified by the University of California and released as “Improved” Meyer lemon (Citrus x meyeri “Improved”). All commercially grown Meyer lemon trees accessible today originated with this particular clone. The improved Meyer lemon gained popularity as gourmet chefs discovered its specific attributes of scent and sweetness, and integrated the fruit in their recipes. Its hardiness and ornamental characteristics make the Meyer lemon attractive for growers and gardeners.

Growing Improved Meyer Lemon Trees

The improved Meyer lemon is not widely grown commercially, though some commercial growers are expanding the inventorymarket. It has taken root on small acreages, and it’s grown in nurseries for home gardeners to plant outdoors or inside. The better Meyer lemon tree is more tolerant of cold than most lemon species, however, has to be covered at temperatures under 20 Fahrenheit. Achieving 10 feet in height, it’s used as a decorative tree, as well as for fruit, and also does well in containers.

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