(Orange Citrus sinensis, Lemon Citrus limon and Lime Citrus auratifolia)
Lemon in particular is useful for digestion and a lemon quarter squeezed into water in the morning will make a delicious drink that will stimulate bile flow and get your digestion moving.
Citrus trees are native to Asia and are attractive, evergreen trees with fragrant blossoms. Oranges originated in southern China and south-east Asia. Lemons also came from south-east Asia but are more sensitive to frosts than other citrus and also unlike other citrus trees they bear fruit continuously. Limes are similar to lemons except smaller and greener.
The citrus are most famous for their vitamin C content and the British Navy would feed limes to its sailors to ward off scurvy (chronic vitamin C deficiency) hence the British sailors became known as ‘‘limeys”.
Due to their beauty and bounty citrus are one of the most popular trees in the home garden but unfortunately unhealthy looking specimens are common, as their needs are not always understood and catered for. However, if you treat them well they will be a treasured part of your garden.
Your healing citrus
As mentioned citrus is famous for its vitamin C content but it also provides a range of other nutrients. All of the citrus also contain flavonoids that are good for immunity, anti- inflammatory. and protective of your heart. Flavonoids also help with absorption of vitamin C so citrus are a great food to eat to maintain your immunity.
Lemon in particular is useful for digestion and a lemon quarter squeezed into water in the morning will make a delicious drink that will stimulate bile flow and get your digestion moving. Lemons are also rich in potassium.
Aside from the basic nutritive value of citrus there is evidence showing that the fruits have some specif c and useful actions as well.
Citrus cuts stroke
Flavonoidsare a class of antioxidant nutrient found in many plants. These flavonoids are known to reduce 'isk of stroke (the brain shutting down due to lack of hood supply due to a blockage or embolism or leakage from blood vessels). There are many different types of flavonoics however, and these researchers wanted to see if some flavonoids were more protective than others. To examine this they examined 14 years’ worth of data that had been gathered on 69.522 women and published their findings in the journal Stroke. This data included information on diet, including wh.ch fruits and vegetables the women ate. The researchers looked to see whether there was in fact a correlation between the amount of flavonoids consumed and likelihood of a stroke. There was, but not for all flavonoids. They found that women who ate the most Ravonones (a type of Ravonoid) from citrus fruits had a 19 per cent reduction in stroke risk when compared to women who ate the least amount of citrus.
Lime juice could be a good, economical, effective way to cleanse any water you are unsure of.
At the moment in low-income countries, one of the ways to make drinking water safe is the SODIS method (Solar Water Disinfection). This method is recommended by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and involves filling a plastic bottle with water and exposing it to sunlight for at least six hours on a sunny day or for 48 hours if it is cloudy.
In a study (American journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene), researchers added lime juice to water at the concentration of 30 millilitres of lime juice per two litres of water. That 30ml equates to about half a lime. They also added to the water either E. coli bacteria, MS2 bacteriophage (a virus that infects bacteria), or murine norovirus (the most common cause of gastrointestinal infection in humans). The results showed that compared to disinfecting with sunlight alone, the lime juice led to significantly lower levels ofE. coli and MS2 bacteriophage. In fact, lime juice reduced E. coli levels in just 30 minutes, which puts it on a par with boiling as a water treatment method. So your lime tree is not only a food source it’s a water cleanser as well.
It is not a major worry but it helps to know that lime juice and lemon juice contain a substance called psoralen, which has an extremely high absorbance for ultraviolet light. If lime juice is left on the skin in the sun it can cause discolouration that, while not harmful, can remain there for months.
Studies have also reported dermatitis resulting from lime juice on the skin in the sun. So if you have an otherwise unexplained staining or skin rash, think back to see whether you may somehow have been in the sun and have spilled lime or lemon juice on your skin.
Grow Your Citrus
When to plank: Available all-year-round as potted plants, but best planted in-ground from spring to the end of autumn. winter.
Climate: Citrus love the heat and tolerate humidity. Protect from frosts. For cool climate dwellers choose a warm, sunny spot. Tahitian limes adapt and grow well in cooler climates, but like lemons are frost sensitive. Lemons otherwise are fairly tolerant of heat and cold: oranges are usually frost hardy. Choose the variety and root stock to suit your climate and soil conditions.
Specific needs: Likes well drained soil. Heavy feeders so be sure to provide plenty of animal manure - chicken, horse and cow are all good, although use less of the chook poo. Apply in autumn. Mulch with pea straw or lucerne to protect the shallow roots and for water retention. Water regularly, particularly during dry spells and when fruiting. Good plants for pots, particularly dwarf citrus. Use a good organic mix and re-pot every three or so years.