Meyer lemons are a natural cross between a citron and a mandarin/pomelo (or some would say sweet orange, depending on the source). The Meyer lemon was named after Frank Meyer, a USDA employee that brought the plant back after a trip to China in 1908. Meyer lemons have a similar lemony taste to true lemons, but are less acidic and leans more on the sweet side. Meyer lemons were a hit in the United States until the 1940s when it was discovered that they were immune carriers of the Citrus tristeza virus, a virus that affects citrus plants. Almost all of the Meyer lemon trees in the United States were then destroyed due to this finding. It wasn’t until 1975 when the University of California released the “Improved Meyer Lemon”, a strain that couldn’t host the virus, did Meyer lemons come back into production.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Rutaceae
- Genus: Citrus
- Species: C. x meyeri
- Binomial name: Citrus x meyeri
- Add: Citrus x meyeri “improved”
Meyer Lemon Trivia
- The Meyer lemon was the “Typhoid Mary” of lemons, it was an asymptomatic carrier of the Citrus Tristeza Virus which killed off thousands of citrus plants.
- Meyer lemons are not “True Lemons”.
- Meyer lemons bounced back into the limelight after Martha Stewart started featuring the fruit in some of her recipes.