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Citrus X limon
Lemon, and other citrus fruits are common in the tropics worldwide. Lemon is believed to be native throughout the monsoon regions of Asia, and to have been introduced to the tropics of the Mediterranean and the Americas. Lemons found their way to Italy by 200 AD, and are thought to have been cultivated in Egypt and Iraq by 700 AD. They belong to the Rutaceae family, along with other medicinal plants Buchu (Agasthoma betulina), Rue (Ruta graveolans), and Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum spp.). They are considered an evergreen tree that can grow up to 20 feet tall, and if the weather allows will continue to grow and fruit all year long. True lemons actually have sharp thorns lining their twigs, though some varieties have been bred to lose this trait. Lemon is not an original citrus fruit, but rather a hybrid between a citron and a sour orange.
Lemon and its citrus fruit cousins became revered by Dutch botanists in the 17th century. Orangeries, which are buildings like greenhouses that were built as extension with many windows to protect exotic trees and plants from harsh northern winters, became popular and common additions to the homes of the wealthy throughout Europe. James Lind (1716 – 1794), a Scottish surgeon, was the first to identify lemons and citrus fruits as a treatment for sailors suffering with scurvy. In rudimentary clinical trials, using 6 pairs of scurvied seamen, those who received citrus quickly recovered. Lind’s work was published in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1753, under the name Treatise of the Scurvy, and he is credited with the discovery of the cure.
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