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The lemon, Citrus × limon, is a citrus tree, a hybrid of cultivated origin. The fruit are cultivated primarily for their juice, though the pulp and rind (zest) are also used, primarily in cooking or mixing. Lemon juice is about 5% citric acid, which gives lemons a sour taste.
This is a small tree, to 6 m (20 ft) but usually smaller. The branches are thorny, and form an open crown. The leaves are elliptical-acuminate. Flowers are violet and streaked in the interior and white on the outside. On a lemon tree, flowers and ripe fruits can be found at the same time.
The first description of the lemon, which had been introduced from India two centuries earlier, is found in Arabic writings from the 12th century. The origin of the name lemon is through Persian ( Limu), from the Sanskrit nimbuka. They were cultivated in Genoa in the mid-fifteenth century, and appeared in the Azores in 1494. More recent research has identified lemons in the ruins of Pompeii. Lemons were once used by the British Royal navy to combat scurvy, as they provided a large amount of vitamin C. The Royal Navy originally thought lemons were overripe limes which they resemble and their sailors became known as limeys, not lemonies.
Both lemons and limes are regularly served as lemonade (natural lemon with water and sugar) or limeade, its equivalent, or as a garnish for drinks such as iced tea or a soft drink, with a slice either inside or on the rim of the glass. Only lemons, however, are used in the Italian liqueur Limoncello.
Lemon juice is typically dripped onto battered fish dishes in restaurants in the United Kingdom and other countries; the acidic juice neutralizes the taste of amines in fish. Lemon juice is also sprinkled on cut fruit, such as apples, to prevent oxidation which would otherwise rapidly darken the fruit, making it less appetizing. Some people like to eat lemons as fruit (however, water should be consumed afterwards, to wash the citric acid and sugar from the teeth, which might otherwise promote tooth decay).
A common school experiment involving lemons is to attach electrodes and use them as a battery to power a light. The electricity generated may also be used to power a motor to move the lemons (on wheels) like a car or truck. These experiments also work with other fruit and with potatoes.
Propagation is by grafting as the stock is vulnerable to cankers and dry rot.
Lemon juice contains approximately 500 milligrams of vitamin C and 50 grams of citric acid per liter.
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