Choosing a Lemon

The original Meyer was itself a hybrid, and the Improved version is just a “virus-free clone” of that original introduction, according to the UC profile page for their accession:


All they are doing there is talking about the Original Meyer Lemon.

Improved Meyer is literally Original Meyer just confirmed to not be virus-infected.


Because they are clones of the same variety.

It says this in the description:

The original Meyer lemon introductions were symptom less carriers of the tristeza virus, but the Improved Meyer lemon trees now available are virus-free.

And this is in the 1967 version, when the Improved version had just been introduced:

Virus-free clones, several of which are currently available, will doubtless replace those employed in the past

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Here’s a more explicit explanation:

Which says this:

Fortunately, Don Dillon, a nurseryman, at Westwind Nurseries in Fremont California found a virus-free specimen that was subsequently certified and released by the University of California in 1972. All current Meyer lemons are derived from this virus free budwood and are sold as the Improved Meyer lemon, Citrus x myeri ‘Improved’.

EDIT: Sorry, I missed that was what @evilpaul already posted above.


Meyer Lemon was actually found at a nursery called Grimshaw nursery, so no one at any university cleaned it of a virus, and no hybridization was done by anyone at a university, it does clearly have some type of mandarin orange in it though, and that makes sense, many mandarins are very Citrus tristeza virus resistant, so much so that even if they are carrying the disease, they’d show no symptoms, no symptoms does not mean that it can not spread the disease, so misinformation about Meyer lemon his been figured out, one Meyer lemon tree just did not have the disease, or it managed to kill the disease on it’s own

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It’s generally accepted that the Meyer Lemon is a hybrid of some lemon crossed with some mandarin/orange made in China a very long time ago. The “Improved” just means it’s from a line of trees that aren’t infected with a devastating virus. Whether the nursery/seller calls it “Improved” or not, it’s probably a virus-free clone at this point unless they have an 50 year old, diseased tree they’re taking cuttings from, for some reason.

Unless you really wanted a Meyer Lemon tree, but also really wanted to kill any nearby citrus your enemies/neighbors are growing I’m not sure why you’d want “Original” diseased Meyer, assuming you could find it.


What I have found out tonight, it appears that an original Meyer lemon tree was found at Joe Grimshaw’s nursery ‘Grimshaw nursery’, one that not only had no disease, also one that probably destroyed the disease, well if the rumor is true that it’s more disease resistant than the original is. It does make sense though, after all, what are the odds of one, and only one original Meyer lemon tree, not holding the disease. Then that tree later appeared to have been donated to the USDA.

The amount of misinformation about Improved Meyer/Meyer is rather intense.

That “The Improved Meyer Lemon” article only listed 1 of the 3 people who discovered the improved Meyer, and it did not list where the Improved Meyer was found.

, the University of California claims two different release dates 1972, and as you can see here, they claim it was in 1975 as well Lemons, lemons, and more lemons! - Riverside County Master Gardeners - ANR Blogs


I decided to move away from all Meyer varieties. I wanted a lemon to taste like a lemon. I do not want my lemons to be sweeter. I grow, ‘four seasons’ lemon. It blooms and fruits in all four seasons. For Zone 9-a and warmer.

I do have one exception. I have Panaché. Which is a cross between a lemon and a grapefruit. I bought this lemon because its flesh is pink. It makes a delicious lemonade. Also it is slightly bitter. Great for margaritas!


There was likely more than one person who had a Meyer that wasn’t from wherever the source of the infected propagation material was. I appreciate whoever’s hardwork kept the cultivar available, but kind of filed it under TL;WGAS as a person looking into citrus to grow.

As a person wanting to grow a “Meyer Lemon” today, you’re growing the “Improved Meyer Lemon” which is the exact same tree as the “Meyer Lemon” it just (hopefully) doesn’t come pre-infected with virus. They were saying on Iron Chef America like ten years ago that it was a lemon-mandarin hybrid, so that’s not a huge secret.

Awesome you have ‘Zagara Bianca’? It has a really thick skin?

‘Zagara Bianca’ is usually called “FOUR SEASONS lemon”

Hi, this lemon is ‘Limon Citrus Lunaria’. It is a very old Italian Cultivar from Amalfi.

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Is that a French or European name for ‘Sfusato Amalfitano’ (‘Femminello Sfusato Amalfitano’, ‘Limone Costa d’Amalfi’)? There is also the original Amalfi coast lemon, which is called ‘Gloria d’ Amalfi’, although that one is nearly extinct, and as far as I know wherever it’s found it’s diseased. That older Amalfi coast lemon has small fruit.

I have ‘Sfusato Amalfitano’, yet it’s not produced for me yet, it’s still a rooting cutting.

‘Zagara Bianca’ is commonly grown in the Amalfi coast, not sure if you know that, although I have never heard of the name ‘Lunaria’. ‘Maybe ‘Lunaria’ is a name for 'Zagara Bianca’ used in the Amalfi coast, a local name maybe? Does this ‘Lunaria’ have pure white blooms like an orange does?

3 people discovered Improved Meyer at the same time at the same nursery, two of those people where father and son ‘Floyd Dillon’, his son ‘Don Dillon’, of Four Winds Growers nursery, the other person was ‘Joe Grimshaw’ of ‘Grimshaw nursery’. ‘Grimshaw nursery’ was where the original Improved Meyer was found by all 3 of them. That same tree was cloned and eventually sent to the USDA which probably was released in 1975, which is the date that the nurseries say it was released, and which is one of the dates that the University of California says that it was released.

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Great, I’m relieved that’s all sorted out.


My Lemon is commonly grown in Provence (includes Apilles, Riviera, Menton, etc. It is of Italian heritage from the Amalfi coast in Italy. It is a wonderfully bright yellow, sour lemon that is not overly acidic. I use it for tarts and cakes.


Yes, but the 1967 citrus industry publication stated there were several different virus free clones already available at that time, so that particular one is just the one that became the official USDA release. It’s quite possible other propagation nurseries used other virus-free clones and later adopted the same “Improved” name.

Correct, they just certified that it was indeed virus-free. The only thing I ever said that I was sure about was that it was a virus-few clone, I admitted from the start that I couldn’t remember how it became virus-free, and said I thought maybe it was cleansed by tissue culture. I was wrong about that last part.

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I can’t wait to make tarts from my lemon tree! I lived in the south of France for two years, near Antibes, and I rarely saw citrus trees. I was living with a family for a bit during that time, and they had lemons trees that were too sour and seedy—I believe ornamental. What I did see were the remnants of glass greenhouses around Antibes and Biot; I heard that they would grow flowers before.


The more you describe it, the more convinced I am that you are explaining ‘Zagara Bianca’, the only very old Italian Cultivar from Amalfi that sounds like what you are mentioning is ‘Zagara Bianca’. Also like I said “FOUR SEASONS lemon” is often what ‘Zagara Bianca’ is called, the only other very old Italian Cultivar from Amalfi that I could picture being grown in France is way less sour than what you are mentioning, and they are huge. So ‘Limon Citrus Lunaria’ is another name for ‘Zagara Bianca’, a local name which is used for it when it’s grown in Provence France, you are lucky to be growing that one.