90417It may not be the mother of all lemons, but Lisbon lemon, Citrus limon ‘Lisbon’, is the original cultivar from which ‘Eureka’ lemon was derived; and ‘Variegated Pink’ lemon was later derived from ‘Eureka’ lemon. ‘Variegated Pink’ is still uncommon, and the pink juice is unusual, but because its variegated foliage is less efficient than greener foliage, it is more manageable in small spaces.

The only distinguishable difference between ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Eureka’ is the scheduling of the fruit. Both are the biggest of the dwarf citrus, and can get as tall as second story eaves. Both have nicely aromatic glossy green foliage. Both are somewhat thorny, and get big thorns on vigorous growth. Yet ‘Lisbon’ is now rare, while ‘Eureka’ is second in popularity only to the unrelated ‘Meyer’ lemon.

That is because, after primary winter production, ‘Eureka’ continues to produce sporadically throughout the year, which is what most of us want in our home garden. ‘Lisbon’ may seem to be more productive, but only because it produces all of its fruit within a limited season that is finishing up about now. The fruit that ripens now may linger for months, but no new fruit ripens until next season.

10 thoughts on “Lisbon Lemon

    1. Oh, those were likely ‘ponderosa’ lemons, which are somewhat small trees that produce huge lemons. If they were not sour like lemons, and the stems were wickedly thorny, they could have been the shaddock understock that sometimes grows from below the graft of dwarf trees. I see that sometimes at work, where trees develop suckers from below the graft, and no one knows to prune them off, they can overwhelm the desired part of the tree, and grow into a nasty shaddock tree. I do not know what understock is common there, but ours was Cuban shaddock.


    1. Years ago, it was traditional to name new cultivars of citrus after the town or region in which they were developed, sort of like the older cultivars of ‘Lisbon’ lemon and ‘Seville’ sour orange were. ‘Taveras’ and ‘Eustis’ limequats are from Taveras and Eustis in Florida. Nowadays, anything goes. No citrus were developed in Eureka, Shasta or Yosemite.


    1. I think that picture was from a tree in the garden of a client in San Jose. We have a nearly identical ‘Eureka’ lemon at work. I have the understock for my own citrus, but have not decided on the lemons to graft. I will likely stick with the ‘Eureka’ lemon, although I do like the abundance of the ‘Lisbon’. I know it is not as practical, but I so enjoy picking the huge volume of fruit. I can not justify growing both. That would be too many! I like ‘Ponderosa’ too because it is the most acidic, but the fruit is so huge, and the trees are so small and funny looking.

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      1. When I grew citrus (trees) in the early 1990s, I worked with an even forty cultivars, with a few more in stock that we did not produce. It was great, but most were not the sort that I would grow in my own garden.

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