Lemony Lemons

We have lemons!  Tiny, just-getting-started lemons. Aren’t they cute?

tiny lemon

Objects in this photo are smaller than they appear

It’s been a long time coming, but our dwarf lemon tree is beginning to bear fruit.

more lemons

More lemons

According to Wikipedia:

Citrus × meyeri, the Meyer lemon, is a citrus fruit native to China thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It was introduced to the United States in 1908  by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China.

The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in China in garden pots as an ornamental tree. It became popular as a food item in the United States after being rediscovered by chefs such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse during the California Cuisine revolution.

Popularity further climbed when Martha Stewart began featuring them in her recipes.

I didn’t know any of this.

dwarf lemon tree

Dwarf Lemon Tree

Two years ago, our tree started producing thorns. I assumed this was a sign that it was ready to bear fruit. Further reading proved otherwise. True lemons have sharp thorns, but the hybrids do not. Any thorns found on a Meyer Lemon are apparently the product of the original rootstock.

This article say that: article,

If the thorns are on branches sprouting from below the grafting union  the best thing to do is to prune them off. Those branches won’t produce Meyer lemons and your tree is wasting energy growing them anyway.
If the thorns are on the Meyer lemon portion of the tree and the tree is otherwise healthy, the best thing to do is ignore them and protect your hands with gloves when you harvest the lemons.

I went back and checked all the branches with tiny fruit and most of them have thorns.

This early in the game, I’m inclined to leave the thorns where they are.  Since the tree is producing fruit it seems best to leave well enough alone.  They won’t ripen for several months, so I can keep my eye on things and see what plays out.

What do you think? Would you remove the thorns?

lemon tree thorn


18 thoughts on “Lemony Lemons

  1. Lucky you! We have a sad looking myer lemon houseplant which has produced one lemon in several years! I keep trying though! You have a better climate for it than in New England. Good luck!


  2. I think I’d leave the thorns too, considering that it’s producing fruit. I know you’ll keep us posted on how it’s doing. Does it have any smell yet?


    • Thanks, MaAnna. I think leaving them alone seems to be the consensus.

      The flowers were intoxicating, but once they started to fruit they lost that smell. I’ll definitely keep you posted on their progress. One of the joys of keeping a blog, is the number of photos I take each week. It’s fun for me to go back and see the growth and progress of each seed, flower, plant and tree.


  3. I love your shots of those tiny lemons – you are right, they are so cute!

    I once had a Meyer Lemon Tree and it had thorns too – we reaped bucket loads of fruit from that tree for about nine months of the year – it was well worth a scratch or two. It was such a grand tree! I did not know about them being a hybrid lemon though – that is new information! Thanks for sharing it Alys xoxo


    • Pauline, I’m delighted to hear that your tree produced an abundance of lemons with the thorns intact. After reading these comments, I’m inclined to leave them be. Gardening can be dangerous business anyway: thorns, cuts, strains, bruises and one stupid fall from a ladder. Whats a thorn prick or two?

      Isn’t it amazing that a tree can produce fruit for nine months out of the year. Wow, nature is really something.



  4. Mmmm, how lovely it will be to pick your own lemons, still warm from the sunshine! We can’t get Meyer lemons here – at least I’ve never seen them. Do they taste different to normal lemons or are they just bigger?


    • That’s a good question, Cathy. Since lemons are so often used in or on something, I’ll have to do a taste test once our lemons are large enough for such a thing.

      The Meyer lemons are rounder than the more traditional lemon, and I think the rind is thinner too. More questions than answers. You’ve given me food for thought.


  5. Oh, how I miss the lemons we used to have nearly year round when we lived in Nor Cal! Ours were from our neighbor’s tree and were Sorrento lemons. Those Meyers are beautiful. I will resist all the metaphorical reflections about thorns as part of the overall package — and just add that I would only cut them off if they became a continual nuisance and left me with bleeding hands. How wonderful that your tree is bearing fruit now! I wish you many years of abundance.


    • Thanks so much, Julia. Thorns don’t bother me (even though they hurt). I’ve always thought of them as part of the tree’s protection. We have a beautiful fern with thorns and of course the roses as well. I bought a tough pair of gloves a few years ago with sturdy gauntlets to protect my arms.

      I was curious though to read that the thorns could take energy away from the tree. I’ll have to do some more reading and see if I can find some alternate views.

      Thanks for sharing your own lemon remembrances.


  6. My gosh, no scurvy going on in your garden. First Oranges and now lemons. I wonder if you could grow limes? Apparently they are having a terrible time of things in Mexico and there aren’t enough limes to go around. They do look a lot like a lime being that they’re green. Will you make lemonade or tarts perhaps? Or just enjoy them with ice and water in a jug? I drench most of the green veggies we cook with fresh lemon juice (never bottled,ecck) I think it’s so much tastier than butter and less calories too.

    It’s a nice specimen tree in the garden too, small and compact. As is Mousie-poo who I see did not miss the opportunity to appear in this post…hehehe, much to my pleasure. xoxoxox


  7. I’m with “let nature take it’s course” camp. I so hope you get good lemons. If that tree was planted somewhere you didn’t want it, the tree would be loaded with fruit. My son’s was literally growing from under the house and had tons of lemons. I would like to try some Meyer Lemons someday. Lemonade would be a good way to test the difference. 🙂 I’m ready. Love watching it grow.


    • What a story, Marlene! I wonder how the lemon managed to get enough light? Isn’t that something?

      We had a lemon tree leaning against our house when we first moved here and it too was covered in lemons. The tree was old and unstable, however, and one day it simply split down the middle at the fork of the trunk, no longer able to support the weight of the lemons. That was a sad day.

      I like using lemons for many things: cleaning the sink, removing rust, rinsing my hair once or twice a year, and yes, lemonade. I hope you’ll get your chance to grow one. Do they grow in your area or is it too cool?


      • It’s too cold and wet here. Wanted my son to grow another but he doesn’t use them. The roots were under the house and the trunk was right up against it. Had great lemons. He had pomegranates too but the ants got them. It’s just so dry there this year I’m surprised anything is still growing.


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