“The very first uses for the lemon in the Mediterranean were as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens. Tracking the progress of the lemon tree from its origin in Assam and northern Burma to China, across Persia and the Arab world to the Mediterranean, is difficult because of the lemon’s adaptability to hybridization. This has caused problems for the horticulturist (a variety might not take to a new land), the food historian (unclear references–for example, the “round citron”), and the taxonomist (a proliferation of botanical terms). Although the citron–like a lemon but larger, with a very thick rind and very little pulp or juice–seems to have been known by the ancient Jews before the time of Christ, and perhaps dispersed in the Mediterranean by them, the lemon seems not to have been known in pre-Islamic times. Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa is wrong to claim in her book A Taste of Ancient Rome, that the Romans grew the lemon. In fact, the malum medicum mentioned by Pliny is the citron.1 Although there are depictions of citrus fruits from Roman mosaics in Carthage and frescoes in Pompeii that bear a striking resemblance to oranges and lemons, this iconographical evidence is not supported by any paleobotanical or literary evidence, suggesting that the artists either imported the fruits or saw them in the East.”

The History of Lemondade
Clifford A. Wright

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