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Lemon Leaf Identification

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Learn to identify lemon trees before the fruit appears.
lemon on tree image by Tomislav from Fotolia.com

Lemon trees grow outdoors only in subtropical climates, since the fruit gets damaged at temperature below 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Learning to identify wild lemon trees gives you a source of free lemons for lemonade, lemon curd or lemon preserves. While it's easy to recognize a lemon tree when it has ripening fruit, learning to recognize lemon leaves can help, too.


Note toothed edge on lemon leaf.
Early morning dew on a lemon tree image by Undy from Fotolia.com

Lemon leaves are elongated and ovoid in shape. They range in size from 2.5-to- 4.5 inches long. Many lemon leaves have a petiole, or a small connector tissue that joins the leaf to the stem. The edges of the leaves are finely toothed.


Leaves are arranged alternately along the stem. This means they have a staggered appearance and are not opposite each other in pairs.


Lemon tree leaves change color as they develop. The leaves are reddish when young. Mature leaves are pale green on the underside and darker green on top. All leaves have dark green veins running down the center and out to the sides.


Lemon flowers have a sweet fragrance. Before they open they appear purple-tinged, but mature flowers are creamy yellow on the outside and white inside. They commonly have four or five petals.


Standard lemon trees average 10-to-20 feet tall, with dwarf or container lemon trees growing up to 5-to-6 feet tall. If you see leaves of this color, shape and texture on a tree that's larger than 20 feet tall, it isn't a lemon tree.


About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.