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For other uses, see Citron (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Citroën.
Citrus medica
Chinesische Zedrat Zitrone.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Citrus
Species: C. medica
Binomial name
Citrus medica

The citron is a large fragrant citrus fruit with thick rind, botanically classified as Citrus medica by both the Swingle and Tanaka botanical name systems. It is one of the only three original citrus fruit (the others being pummelo and mandarine), from which most other citrus types developed through natural or artificial hybridization.[1]


The designation medica given it by Linnaeus, apparently is derived from its ancient name, "Median or Persian apple",[2] that was reported by Theophrastus,[3] who believed it to be native to Persia or the land of the Medes.

The fruit's name "citron" derives ultimately from Latin, citrus, also the origin of the genus name, and as a result it has many similar names in many European languages, e.g. cederat, cédrat, cedro, etc.

A source of confusion is that citron or similar words in French, Hungarian, Finnish, Latvian, the West Slavic languages, and all Germanic languages but English are false friends, as they refer to the lemon. Indeed, into the 16th century, the English name citron included the lemon and perhaps the lime as well.[4]

In most Arabic languages it is called Turunj or similar, in Syria and many other Muslim countries Kabbad,[5] in Japanese Bushkan (maybe referring only to the fingered varieties)[6] and in Bangladesh Shatkore.[7]



Main article: Succade
A citron halved and depulped, cooked in sugar.

While the lemon or orange are peeled to consume their pulpy and juicy segments, the citron's pulp is dry, containing a small quantity of insipid juice, if any. The main content of a citron fruit is the thick white rind, which adheres to the segments, and cannot be separated from them easily. The citron gets halved and depulped, its rind is cooked in sugar, diced into succade which is used as confection.

citron torte

Today the citron is used for the fragrance or zest of its flavedo, but the most important part is still the inner rind (known as pith or albedo), which is a fairly important article in international trade and is widely employed in the food industry as succade,[8] as it is known when it is candied in sugar.

In Iran, the citron's thick white rind is used to make jam; in Pakistan the fruit is used to make jam as well as pickled; in South Indian cuisine, the citron is widely used in pickles and preserves.


From ancient through medieval times, the citron was used mainly for medical purposes: to combat seasickness, pulmonary troubles, intestinal ailments, scurvy and other disorders. The essential oil of the flavedo (the outermost, pigmented layer of rind) was also regarded as an antibiotic.[9] Citron juice with wine was considered an effective antidote to poison, as Theophrastus reported. In Ayurvedic system of medicine, the fruit juice is still used for treating conditions like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst etc.

The fruit juice has a high content of Vitamin C and used medicinally as an anthelminthic, appetizer, tonic, in cough, rheumatism, vomiting, flatulence, haemorrhoids, skin diseases and weak eye sight.[10] There is a recent study that citron has some cardiovascular benefits.[11]

There is a rising market for the citron for the use of its soluble fiber (pectin) found in its thick albedo.[12] There are also scientific claims that modified citrus pectin can help even against cancer.[13]


Main article: Etrog

The citron is also used by Jews (the word for it in Hebrew is etrog) for a religious ritual during the Feast of Tabernacles; therefore is considered as a Jewish symbol, and is found on various Hebrew antiques and archeological findings.[14] Citrons used for ritual purposes cannot be grown by grafting branches.

Main article: Buddha's hand

There is a variety of citron native to China that separate in finger like parts, and is used as an offering in Buddhist temple.


Citron, also known as Citrus medica, is a fragrant but inedible citrus fruit. The citron fruit is usually oblong and covered with a leathery adherent rind. The color of the citron varies from green to orange-yellow. It differs from the rest of the citrus species, such as oranges or lemons, by having a dry pulp that contains just a small levels of juice. For many centuries, citron is used for medical purposes (against pulmonary and gastric-intestinal disorders), and for production of the essential oil, which not only smells nice but also possesses antibiotic properties.

Dior reformulates its masculine fragrance Dior Homme Sport from 2008 and launches the new Dior Homme Sport in early 2012. Perfumer Francois Demachy made the original composition more elegant with rich floral powdery notes of iris. This powdery, woody and greenish sports scent begins with citrus accords of ginger and Sicilian citron. The refined perfume’s heart is constructed around Tuscany iris note, which gives the fragrance a bit of a vintage character. The base is woody and aromatic, including intensive notes of Virginian cedar wood. The face of the campaign, captured at the French Riviera, is once again Jude Law. The fragrance is available as 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette.

Eau d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men. Eau d'Hadrien was launched in 1981. Eau d'Hadrien was created by Annick Goutal and Francis Camail. The fragrance features cypress, grapefruit, lemon, sicilian lemon, citron, mandarin orange, aldehydes and ylang-ylang. This perfume is the winner of award FiFi Award Hall Of Fame 2008.

Bath & Body Works launches the Signature Collection for men in 2010. It includes four masculine fragrances: Citron, Ocean, Oak and Noir. These fragrant compositions are rich and aromatic, dedicated to different men and their particular preferences. If you like nature and outdoors, try Oak. If you want an extremely fresh scent, Ocean is ideal for you. If you are energetic and sporty type, you will be happy with Citron, while Noir is for the daring and courageous men. Citron is a citrus - aromatic blend of white woods and lemon zest. Top notes: bergamot, pink grapefruit, fresh sage, lemon. Heart: lavender, coriander, water lily, hedione. Base: woody notes, oud, tonka, sandalwood, cool musk. It is available as 100 ml cologne, 120 ml deodorant spray and 60 and 295 ml body wash.

Description and variation[edit]


The citron fruit is usually ovate or oblong, narrowing towards the stylar end. However, the citron's fruit shape is highly variable, due to the large quantity of albedo, which forms independently according to the fruits' position on the tree, twig orientation, and many other factors. The rind is leathery, furrowed, and adherent. The inner portion is thick, white and fleshy; the outer is uniformly thin and very fragrant. The pulp is usually acidic, but also can be sweet, and even pulpless varieties are found.

Most citron varieties contain a large number of monoembryonic seeds. They are white, with dark innercoats and red-purplish chalazal spots for the acidic varieties, and colorless for the sweet ones. Some citron varieties are also distinct, having persistent styles, that do not fall off after fecundation. Those are usually promoted for etrog use.

Some citrons have medium-sized oil bubbles at the outer surface, medially distant to each other. Some varieties are ribbed and faintly warted on the outer surface. There is also a fingered citron variety called Buddha's hand.

The color varies from green, when unripe, to a yellow-orange when overripe. The citron does not fall off the tree and can reach 8–10 pounds (4–5 kg) if not picked before fully mature.[15] However, they should be picked before the winter, as the branches might bend or break to the ground, and may cause numerous fungal diseases for the tree.


Citrus medica is a slow-growing shrub or small tree that reaches a height of about 8 to 15 ft (2 to 5 m). It has irregular straggling branches and stiff twigs and long spines at the leaf axils. The evergreen leaves are green and lemon-scented with slightly serrate edges, ovate-lanceolate or ovate elliptic 2.5 to 7.0 inches long. Petioles are usually wingless or with minor wings. The flowers are generally unisexual providing self-pollination, but some male individuals could be found due to pistil abortion. The clustered flowers of the acidic varieties are purplish tinted from outside, but the sweet ones are white-yellowish.

The citron tree is very vigorous with almost no dormancy, blooming several times a year, and is therefore fragile and extremely sensitive to frost.[16]

Varieties & hybrids[edit]

The acidic varieties include the Florentine and Diamante citron from Italy, the Greek citron and the Balady citron from Israel. The sweet varieties include the Corsican and Moroccan citrons. Between the pulpless are also some fingered varieties and the Yemenite citron.

There are also a number of citron hybrids; for example, ponderosa lemon, the lumia and rhobs el Arsa are known citron hybrids, some are claiming that even the Florentine citron is not pure citron, but a citron hybrid.

Origin and distribution[edit]

Despite the variation among the cultivars, authorities agree the citron is an old and original species. There is molecular evidence that all other cultivated citrus species arose by hybridization among four ancestral types, which are the citron, pomelo, mandarin and papeda.

The citron is believed to be the purest of them all, since it is usually fertilized by self-pollination, and is therefore generally considered to be a male parent of any citrus hybrid rather than a female one.[17]

Today, authorities agree that all citrus species are native to Southeast Asia where they are found wild and in an uncultivated form. The story of how they spread to the Mediterranean has been reported by Francesco Calabrese,[18] Henri Chapot,[19] Samuel Tolkowsky,[20] Elizabetta Nicolisi,[21] and others.[22]

The citron could also be native to India where it borders on Burma, in valleys at the foot of the Himalayas, and in the Indian Western Ghats.[23][24] It is thought that by the time of Theophrastus, the citron was mostly cultivated in the Persian Gulf on its way to the Mediterranean basin, where it was cultivated during the later centuries in different areas as described by Erich Isaac.[25] Many mention the role of Alexander the Great and his armies as they attacked Persia and what is today Pakistan, as being responsible for the spread of the citron westward, reaching the European countries such as Macedonia and Italy.[26]

The citron is mentioned in the Torah as being required for ritual use during the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40). According to this tradition, the Jews brought it back to Israel from their exile in Egypt, where the Egyptologist and archaeologist Victor Loret claimed to have identified it depicted on the walls of the botanical garden at the Karnak Temple, which dates back to the time of Thutmosis III, approximately 3,000 years ago.[27]


The citron has been cultivated since ancient times, predating the cultivation of other citrus species.[28]


The following description on citron was given by Theophrastus[29]

Citron leaves.
Leaves of the Andrachne.

Pliny the Elder[edit]

About 400 years later it was also described by Pliny the Elder, who called it nata Assyria malus. The following is from his book Natural History.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Citron Cultivation, Production and Uses in the Mediterranean Region
  2. ^ Cedrát - Citrus medica a Citrus limonimedica
  3. ^ Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants, IV.4.2.
  4. ^ Citron at the Oxford English dictionary [1]
  5. ^ Plant Lives
  6. ^ Buddha's Hand citron by the University of California, Riverside
  7. ^ Bangladeshi Shatkora Citrus: Candied Peel, Cordial, Posset & Pectin
  8. ^ The Purdue University
  9. ^ Natural healing Website
  10. ^ National R&D Facility for Rasayana
  11. ^ Citrus medica “Otroj”: Attenuates xidative Stress and Cardiac Dysrhythmia in Isoproterenol-Induced Cardiomyopathy in Rats
  12. ^ Preparation and Characterization of Pectin...
  13. ^ Researchers demonstrate how modified citrus pectin works against cancer
  14. ^ See Etrog
  15. ^ Un curieux Cedrat marocain, Chapot 1950.
  16. ^ The citrus Industry, The Purdue University
  17. ^ Citrus phylogeny and genetic origin of important species as investigated by molecular markers. 2000
  18. ^ Calabrese, La favolosa storia degli agrumi. L'EPOS, 1998, Palerno Italy. English translation in Citrus: the genus citrus
  19. ^ Capot, "The citrus plant", p.6-13. in: Citrus. Ciba-Geigy Agrochemicals Tech. Monogr.4. Ciba-Geigy Ltd., 1975, Basle, Switzerland.
  20. ^ Tolkowsky, Hesperides. A history of the culture and use of citrus fruits, p.371. John Bale, Sons and Curnow, 1938, London, England.
  21. ^ Nicolisi, Citrus Genetics, Breeding and Biotechnology
  22. ^ The Citrus Industry ^The Purdue University ^Food in China: a cultural and historical inquiry By Frederick J. Simoons, Google Books ^The Search for the Authentic Citron: Historic and Genetic Analysis; HortScienc 40(7):1963–1968. 2005
  23. ^ Sir Joseph Hooker. Flora of British India, i. 514)
  24. ^ COUNTRY REPORT TO THE FAO INTERNATIONAL TECHNICAL CONFERENCE ON PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES (Leipzig, 1996); Prepared by: Nepal Agricultural Research Council; Kathmandu, June 1995; CHAPTER 2.2
  25. ^ Isaac, "The Citron in the Mediterranean: a study in religious influences", Economic Geography, Vol. 35 No. 1. (Jan. 1959) pp. 71–78
  26. ^ The Pordue University
  27. ^ Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society
  29. ^ Historia plantarum 4.4.2-3 (exc. Athenaeus Deipnosophistae 3.83.d-f); cf. Vergil Georgics 2.126-135; Pliny Naturalis historia 12.15,16.
  30. ^ Historia plantarum 1.13.4.
  31. ^ Natural History Chp. 31
  32. ^ Book XII CHAP. 7. (3.
  33. ^ Chp. 56


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