Thursday, November 20, 2008
Some say the lemon tree first appeared in the foothills of the Himalayas, others say it was in the Malayan archipelago. Whatever the case, it was cultivated by the Chinese some 3,000 years ago.
The Romans were the first westerners to introduce it into their gardens. They called the fruit the "apple of the Mede", in reference to a people who lived in what is now Iran. The fruit was used mainly for medicinal purposes as an antidote to poisons and venom and as an insect repellent.
One of the lemon's greatest glories was that it made possible the prevention of the terrible scurvy that had been decimating ships' crews at sea. In the mid-18th century James Lindt, a Royal Navy surgeon discovered the remarkable anti-scurvy properties of this fruit.
It was not until 1932, a century and a half later, that the lemon's anti-scurvy properties were correctly attributed to its high vitamin C content.