Citrus medica L.

Citrus medica L.




Citrus aurantium L. var. medica Wight & Arnott, Citrus crassa Hasskarl.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Limau susu.
English Citron.
Indonesia Jeruk sukade, sitrun.
Papua New Guinea Muli (Pidgin).
Philippines Bulid (Tagalog), sidris (Bisaya), sidras (Ilokano).
Burma (Myanmar) Shouk-ta-kwah.
Laos Vëëx.
Thailand Manao-khwai (Yala-Pattani), somma-ngua (Central), mawo-yao (Chiang Mai).
Vietnam Thanh yên.
French Cédratier.

Geographical Distributions

Citrus medica is probably originated in the sub-Himalayan region of north-eastern India and upper Burma. It spread westward to Persia, becoming the first citrus fruit brought under cultivation in the western world, and eastward into China. It has also been taken to most tropical countries, where it is little importance. Commercial planting of C. medica is limited to certain islands in the Mediterranean region (belonging to Italy, Greece and France) and in the mountainous coffee regions of Puerto Rico. It is sparingly cultivated elsewhere.


C. medica is a straggly shrub or small tree that can grow up to 3 m tall. It is with light grey bark and relatively soft wood. The twigs are angular and purplish when young but turn cylindrical later, smooth and with single axillary spines.

The leaves are elliptic-ovate to ovate-lance-shaped, measuring 5-20 cm x 3-9 cm, wedge-shaped or rounded at the base, serrate at the margins and bluntly pointed or rounded at the apex. The petiole is short, wingless or nearly so and not clearly articulated with the blade.

The flower buds are large and pinkish. The flowers are perfect or staminate which are in axillary with a few-flowered racemes and measuring 3-4 cm in diametre. There are 5 petals that are pinkish externally. The stamens are 30-40(-60). The ovary has 10-13-locular with a thick style.

The fruit is an ovoid to oblongoid berry, measures 10-20 cm long and slightly too considerably rough-tuberculate. The yellow peel is very thick and fragrant. The segments are small and filled with pale green pulp-vesicles. The juice is acidic to mildly acid.

The seeds are numerous, ovoid, measuring about 1 cm x 0.5 cm, acute and monoembryonic.

Ecology / Cultivation

In the tropics, C. medica grows very well at elevations below 1300 m altitude. The best C. medica locations are those without extreme temperatures. C. medica is very sensitive to frost and to intense heat and drought. It is the tenderest of all Citrus species. The soil should be moist, well-drained, deep and fertile.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 2: Edible fruits and nuts.