Lemon tree very pretty, but impossible to...identify.
February 26, 2008 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Meyer or Eureka? How do I determine my lemon tree?

We have a big ol' lemon tree on our property that thankfully provides us a lot of fruit. I've looked at pics, asked friends, and get differing answers. How do we tell for sure if it is Eureka or Meyer? (recipes often call for one or the other).

It blooms and fruits almost continously throughout the year, in Sonoma County CA. It's about 25' high. The fruit is on the sweeter side, and visually has the elongation at both ends, rather than round.

Sorry, no pics to help.
posted by artdrectr to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Meyers are usually rounder and sweeter and thinner skinned, in my experience. In fact, they're so sweet that you can't use them in a lot of recipes that call for lemons. (They make great lemonade, though, and I like them in lemon meringue pie, though some people think they're too sweet for that. It's definitely a really different flavor.) They often have slightly oranger flesh, but I usually can't tell the difference unless I see them side by side.

There are a lot of lemons in Santa Rosa that seem to be neither Eureka nor Meyer, by the way. Citrus goes all along the spectrum from sour to sweet and I don't know if all the variations are even named.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:07 AM on February 26, 2008

Best answer: Here is the observation data of citrus meyeri (Improved Meyer) from the USDA's GRIN database. There appear to be several Eureka subvarieties: Cascade Eureka, Frost Eureka, Cook Eureka, Ross Eureka, and Eureka Variegated. Try comparing the observation data from each variety -- especially the tree shape, tree habit, leaf shape and all fruit descriptors -- and see which one fits best.
posted by cog_nate at 10:34 AM on February 26, 2008

Best answer: Alternatively, take a small limb from the tree with leaves and a couple lemons to your County Cooperative Extension office. They should be able to ID it for you.
posted by cog_nate at 10:37 AM on February 26, 2008

Best answer: OK, one last thing: here's a PDF from the Marin County Cooperative Extension about citrus fruits. Lemon varieties are described on page two.
posted by cog_nate at 10:41 AM on February 26, 2008

Best answer: Your tree may be a little big for a Meyer:

The Meyer tree is small, reaching 6 to 8 feet at maturity. It flower intermittently throughout the year, but the main season of fruit production is the spring. The lemon is a medium sized, round fruit that has a beautiful golden yellow color. The edible skin is shiny, and smooth with small pores.

posted by jamjam at 10:54 AM on February 26, 2008

Yeah, whatever that is, a Meyer it isn't.
posted by mumkin at 11:00 AM on February 26, 2008

Best answer: Eureka is the classic lemon you see most often at the supermarket. It has thicker, rougher skin with more obvious pores, are more oval shaped with a nubby bottom and sometimes top. The color is bright clear yellow sometimes tinged with greenish, while a ripe Meyer will have smooth, shiny, thin, yellowy-orange skin. Ripe is when a gentle pull separates the fruit from the stem. Meyer. Eureka. Our mature Meyer tree was only about 6-7 feet tall, but it spread twice as wide. So yeah, not a Meyer, some sweeter version of a Eureka.
posted by tula at 11:10 AM on February 26, 2008

Best answer: I find that Meyer lemons have a pretty distinct smell (maybe slightly flowery compared to normal lemons?). I bet if you went to the grocery store and poked a Eureka lemon with your fingernail and took a sniff and then did the same to a Meyer, you'd be able to tell the difference pretty easily. Then you could compare to your tree at home.
posted by kms at 2:30 PM on February 26, 2008

Response by poster: Nearly everybody had something to say that helped. Thanks.
However, after perusing cog_nate's pdf, it's possible it is neither a Eureka nor Meyer, but a LISBON.
(My fault for loading the question).

A round of limoncello, bartender!
posted by artdrectr at 5:38 PM on February 26, 2008

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