Are Lemons Man Made? Created in a Lab, or Natural? (Explained)



Did life give us lemons? Or did we make them ourselves? The citrus family has an elaborate taxonomy, much of which precedes historical documentation.

So it’s difficult to say when, where, or how the first lemon trees appeared. Let’s look at the existing evidence and scientific speculation to determine if lemons are man-made.

A Hybrid Gone Sour

In the 18th century, Swedish botanist Carolus Linneaus classified the lemon as a variety of citron. However, scientists now know that the lemon, or Citrus limon, is a hybrid of the citron and the bitter orange.

Geographic Origin & Natural Evolution

The exact origin of the  original citrus fruits, much less the lemon, is unknown. Archeologists rely on fossil records to date the origins of fruit. Unfortunately, limited fossil records exist for citrus fruits. 

Human Cultivation Begins

Human-cultivated citrus has a somewhat shorter history – estimated at a mere 4,000+ years. Traders, crusaders, and migraters spread the lemon across many continents over many centuries. It was a long, winding journey to where we are today.

Current Lemon Cultivations

Today, there are at least 200 distinct cultivars of lemons in the US alone. These lemons are cultivated using selective breeding to prioritize desirable traits such as disease resistance, productivity, climate preference (humid vs. arid), and seed quantity.

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