Lemon is a hybrid in cultivated wild plants. It is the common name for the reproductive tissue surrounding the seed of the lemon tree. The lemon is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world. The fruit is used primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind (zest) are also used, primarily in cooking and baking. Lemon juice is about 5% (approximately 0.03 moles/Liter) citric acid, which gives lemons a tart taste, and a pH of 2 to 3. This makes lemon juice an inexpensive, readily available acid for use in educational science experiments.
The exact origin of the lemon has remained a mystery, though it is widely presumed that lemons are originally from northwest India. In South and South East Asia, it was known for its antiseptic properties and it was used as antidote for various poisons. The lemon was later introduced to Iraq and Egypt around 700 A.D.
The popular drink lemonade may have originated in medieval Egypt. It was distributed widely throughout the Arab world and the Mediterranean region between 1000 A.D. to 1150 A.D. At this time, the lemon was first recorded in literature to a tenth century Arabic treatise on farming and was used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens.
Lemons entered Europe (near southern Italy) no later than the first century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome. However, they were not widely cultivated. The first real lemon cultivation in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the fifteenth century. It was later introduced to the Americas in 1493 when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola along his voyages. Spanish conquest throughout the New World helped spread lemon seeds. It was mainly used as ornament and medicine. In 1700s and late 1800s, lemons were increasingly planted in Florida and California when lemons began to be used in cooking and flavoring.
In 1747, James Lind's experiments on seamen suffering from scurvy involved adding Vitamin C to their diets through lemon juice.
The name lemon was originated from Arabic līmūn لیمون and Persian limun through Old Italian and Old French limone.