Lemon trees (Citrus limon) belong to the citrus genus of plants, which includes oranges, grapefruits and tangerines. In Australia, several varieties of lemon trees are grown commercially with more than 30,000 tons of fruit produced annually. Although there are well over 100 varieties of lemon trees worldwide, only a handful are commonly found in Australia.
Eureka is the most commonly grown lemon tree in Australia with nearly half of all trees planted being of this variety. Well known for their juiciness and bitterness, Eureka lemons can be harvested several times a year. This tree is believed to have originated from Sicilian seeds and made its way to Australia via California.
Fino lemon trees are a relatively new addition to the Australian citrus industry, having been released for propagation in 1994. Although uncertain, the origin of this variety is believed to be Spain. Fino trees produce their biggest crop in the winter, but also yield small spring and fall harvests.
As the name indicates, the Lisbon variety originated in Portugal but has been grown in Australia since 1965. Very bitter and juicy, Lisbon lemons are quite similar to the Eureka variety. Agriculturally, the Lisbon is the second most popular type of lemon in Australia with about 30 percent of the market.
Meyer lemon trees are very popular with home gardeners due to their hardiness and ability to bear fruit nearly all year. Much less bitter than most lemons, the Meyer variety is thought to be a hybrid of lemon and orange originating from China. It has been grown successfully in Australia since 1944.
Capable of producing larger than average fruit, the Verna variety is a Spanish import that has only been grown in Australia for a few years. Since these trees are prone to producing crops only every other year, their commercial viability is doubtful.
The Yen Ben variety originated in Queensland as a sport of a Lisbon lemon tree sometime after 1930. Botanically speaking, a sport refers to a natural mutation, whereby part of a plant develops characteristics unique from the rest of the plant. Yen Ben lemon trees produce heavy crops but the fruit size is smaller than that of more popular varieties.