Lemon sole

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Lemon sole
Microstomus kitt 1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Pleuronectiformes
Family: Pleuronectidae
Genus: Microstomus
Species: M. kitt
Binomial name
Microstomus kitt
(Walbaum, 1792)
Lemon Sole Distribution Map.png
Range of the lemon sole
  • Pleuronectes kitt Walbaum, 1792
  • Pleuronectes microcephalus Donovan, 1803
  • Pleuronectes laevis Shaw, 1803
  • Platessa pola Cuvier, 1829
  • Microstomus latidens Gottsche, 1835
  • Pleuronectes gilli Steindachner, 1868

The lemon sole (Microstomus kitt) is a flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae. It is native to shallow seas around Northern Europe, where it lives on stony bottoms down to depths of about 200 metres (660 ft). It grows up to 65 centimetres (26 in) in length and reaches about 3 kilograms (6.6 lb) in weight.[1][2]

It is a popular food fish.


The lemon sole is a right-eyed flatfish with a small head and mouth and smooth, slimy skin. The upper surface is reddish brown in colour, mottled with pink and orange and flecks of yellow and green, and a prominent orange patch is typically found behind the pectoral fin, around which the lateral line also curves. The underside of the fish is white. Adults can reach lengths of up to 65 centimetres (26 in), but most measure around 20–30 centimetres (8–12 in).[1][2]

Origin of the name[edit]

Lemon sole is a misnomer since the fish is neither a true sole, nor does it have the taste of lemon. It probably comes from the French name : "limande" or "sole limande". The French term "limande" may come from the French word "lime", it means "file" (tool used to smooth metal, wood, etc.), possibly referring to the texture of the fish's skin. Some other authors suggest that "limande" may also come from the French word "limon" (which means "silt").[3]


In 2007 the European Union fishing quota, or Total Allowable Catch (TAC), for lemon sole (and witch) was 6,175 tonnes, of which 3,716 tonnes were caught, mostly by UK fishermen. The quota for 2008 was 6,793 tonnes and the quota for 2009 was 6,793 tonnes.[4][5]

The Marine Conservation Society rates lemon sole at 2 or 3 on its sustainability scale (where 1 is best and 5 is worst) depending on how and where it is caught.[6][7]

See also[edit]

Several other species of flatfish are known as lemon soles:


  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Microstomus kitt" in FishBase. April 2006 version.
  2. ^ a b Picton, B.E.; Morrow, C.C. (2005). "Microstomus kitt". Encyclopaedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Habitas Online. Archived from the original on 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  3. ^ "Limande" in Trésor informatique de la langue française : http://atilf.atilf.fr/dendien/scripts/tlfiv4/showps.exe?p=combi.htm;java=no;
  4. ^ "1 Fisheries: catch quotas and effort limitation 2009". Documents considered by the Committee on 21 January 2009 - European Scrutiny Committee. Hansard. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  5. ^ Barratt & Irwin (2008). United Kingdom Sea Fishing Statistics 2007 (PDF). London: Marine and Fisheries Agency. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-85521-181-3. 
  6. ^ "Lemon Sole". Fishonline. Marine Conservation Society. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  7. ^ "Fish To Eat: Lemon Sole". Fishonline. Marine Conservation Society. Retrieved 2009-04-27.