What we grow - Biodiversity

Citron (Citrus)


The citron (Citrus medica) is a fruit tree belonging to the genus Citrus (Rutaceae). It is considered one of the three citrus species from which all members of the genus known today derive, together with pomelo and tangerine. The name citron, derived from the vulgarization of the Latin term “citrus” is ambiguous, as it coincides with the translation of “cedrus”, the name given to the conifer (The famous “Cedars of Lebanon” which provided wood for many boats in the ancient world), therefore, in some texts for citrus the term “citro” is also used. According to Pliny the Elder, citron originates from Ancient Persia. It came to Europe in ancient times, as indicated by the origin of the terms in ancient Greek (“Kedros” or “kitrion”) and in Latin (“Citrus”), used to indicate citron, both deriving from the same root belonging to the “Mediterranean languages​​”. In Italy the knowledge of citron is very ancient and was classified by Pliny in his book “Naturalis Historia” with the name of “Assyrian apple”. Initially the fruit was used as a repellent for harmful insects such as mosquitoes, in a similar way to lemongrass, while its use as a food was widespread only two centuries later. Currently this fruit is cultivated mainly in the Mediterranean area (Especially Calabria and Sicily), in the Middle East, India and Indonesia, but also in Australia, Brazil and the USA. In Santa Maria del Cedro, a town in the province of Cosenza (Calabria) which takes its name from the citron, the Citron Festival (August), the Citron Harvest Festival (October) and the Citron Etno Festival (December) are celebrated every year. In the city of Forlì (Emilia Romagna), every year (May 1st) the festival dedicated to Pellegrino Laziosi (Italian Saint of the Servite Order – Friar Order Servants of Mary) is celebrated characterized by the traditional citron fair. Also in Bibbona (Livorno – Tuscany), on Easter Monday, the citron festival is held, in memory of the ancient local practice of using this fruit as a custom duty. Traditional consumption of sliced ​​and slightly salted citron during the period of the Feast of Saint’Agata, Patroness of Catania.


The citron tree has a shrub or small tree habit that rarely exceeds 8 meters in height. The branches are thorny and irregularly arranged, while the leaves are large and have a serrated edge, they are reddish as soon as they are formed and then as they grow they become bright green. Citron is a remontant plant like lemon, and thanks to this characteristic it generates various annual cycles of fruiting. However, the most abundant blooms occur in spring and summer, and are those that lead to the greatest autumn-winter productions. The fruit is characterized by an oval shape, twice the size of lemon, bright yellow or light green peel, particularly thick, with a wrinkled and globular appearance, with a slight protuberance at the peduncle and slightly pointed on the opposite side, with a particularly thick albedo (White inner layer that separates the peel from the pulp) which makes up about 70% of the fruit.


Citron is a concentrate of nutritional and beneficial qualities for the body and is a real mine of mineral salts and vitamins, in particular vitamin C. It is rich in flavonoids, therefore it is one of the antioxidant foods. It has digestive, germicidal, disinfectant, stimulating and laxative properties.


Cultivating citron requires a sandy soil, rich in organic substances and draining humus, with a slightly acidic PH. The ideal climatic conditions for cultivation, in Italy, are found only in Calabria and Sicily, as citron is one of the most demanding citrus fruits regarding temperature:

  • In winter a stable temperature is required between 12°-15°C;
  • In summer a stable temperature is required between 23°-25°C;

As far as irrigation is concerned, it must be abundant especially during the warm seasons, while in winter it will be necessary only in the presence of a few rains, in fact, it is important that the soil always remains moist. Fertilization is important, especially during the years in which the plant is productive, with the aid of organic fertilizers given via the leaves and the soil. The fruit is harvested mainly by hand, with a longer shelf life of about two weeks compared to all other types of citrus.