How To Tell A Lemon Tree From A Lime Tree

There is an easy way to tell the difference between a lemon tree and a lime tree. Lurking beneath their similar appearances, these two fruits trees have distinctive features that will easily help you to identify them. Firstly, the lemon tree can grow to be a lot bigger than the lime tree. Lemons typically reach heights up to 20 feet, while limes seldom surpass 15. Secondly, the leaves on a lemon tree are bigger and darker than a lime’s. Therefore, when you look at the two, it will be easier to make out their differences. Thirdly, lemons will have large, circular thorns near the base of the leaf stalks, which is a characteristic you won’t find on a lime tree. Fourthly, lemon trees will have large white flowers, while limes will boast small green or white flowers. Fifthly, lemons typically have a distinctively sour taste while limes will have an acidic-bitter flavor. Sixthly, the fruit from a lemon tree will start off green, turning yellow when ripe, unlike that of limes which stay green when matured. Lastly, the fruit of a lemon tree will vary in shape, depending on the variety, growing oval or egg-shaped. Limes, however, are usually the same shape, growing in a spherical shape.


Knowing how to tell a lemon tree from a lime tree is helpful because their fruits can be used in different ways. A lemon’s tart flavor makes it a popular choice for many dishes. Chefs can use it to brighten up their cuisine or to incorporate into a dessert. Juice from a lemon can be used as a cleaning solution and it can also be used to make refreshing beverages like lemonade. It is also often added to sauces to add some extra distinctiveness. Limes, on the other hand, tend to have a sweet, aromatic flavor which lends itself well to nutritious drinks, salsas and dips. They can be chopped and added to salads, soups and stews to give a unique flavor. Also, their vibrant green color makes them a popular choice for adding a splash of color to any dish for added presentation.


Lemon and lime trees, also known as citrus, are from the Rutaceae family and prefer sunny and warm climates. A lemon tree will require more water than a lime tree but, both need to be well drained, especially during the winter months. Both remain in the ground year round and may display rounder leaves in the colder seasons and more pointed leaves during the summer months. This is essential for identifying them correctly. In addition, both trees will require tree-wrap during the more frigid winter months to ensure they stay healthy and hydrated.

History and Cultivation

Although both lemon and lime trees are believed to have originated in India, they have had a large impact throughout the world. Their ability to grow in a wide range of climate and soil conditions has allowed them to adapt to many countries and, subsequently, has been a major source of income in many locations. Historically, limes have been used as an antiscorbutic (cures the deficiency of vitamin C) and even a currency in the past. Lemon trees are believed to have been introduced to Mediterranean in 200AD and were later brought to North and Central America in the mid 16th century.


If you want to grow either a lemon or lime tree, you should consider investing in a potted version as they will remain smaller and easier to manage indoors. Both trees need well drained, acidic soil with high organic content and should in a sunny, warm location. It is also essential to fertilize the soil mix to ensure your tree receives the necessary nutrients. Lime trees need watering once a week and a lemon tree will require a little more. When transitioning your tree outdoors ensure to harden off the plant slowly to minimize any shock.

Harvesting and Storage

The best time to harvest lemons is when they turn a yellow color and they can also be plucked green. However, limes can only be picked when they have reached a yellow or green mature state. Harvesting preferences may vary depending on the type of tree you have and the type of fruit you are looking to produce. To store them, you should wrap each fruit well in plastic and store in a cool cellar or in the refrigerator. They should last between two to three weeks at room temperature and up to several months in cooler temperatures.

Care and Maintenance

Caring for your lemon or lime tree is important if you want to ensure its longevity and health. After planting, the trees will require frequent watering for the first few months and then, eventually, more infrequently as it matures. Both trees will benefit from an annual trim to allow for more air circulation and should be protected from cold temperatures. If the tree is planted in a container, it will require repotting every other year. Make sure that your container is deep enough; or else, you may find your tree becoming root-bound.

Pest Control and Disease Prevention

The most common issues faced when growing both lemon and lime trees are pest and disease. Lemon trees will often suffer from scale insects, citrus brown rot, and citrus leaf spot, while lime trees may experience anthracnose, phelophemic blights and green spiders. To prevent any major issues, an annual maintenance regimen should be implemented. Inspect your tree regularly for signs of problem and be sure to prune away any dead or infected branches. You can purchase various sprays and insecticides to deter any further infestation. If you find yourself dealing with a major infestation, you should contact a professional pest control company.

Gordon Wesson is an environmentalist and author who lives in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing for many years about topics related to trees, the environment, and sustainability. In particular, he is passionate about educating people on the importance of living in harmony with the environment and preserving natural spaces. He often speaks at conferences and events around the country to share his knowledge with others. His dedication to protecting our planet makes him one of the leading voices in his field today.

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