Harmony in the Garden Blog

Freaky Looking Lemons

‘Eureka’ lemon trees are notorious for producing freaky looking lemons (especially in cooler coastal climates like ours in the Bay Area.)  

Personally, I like the occasional oddball that my tree kicks out – and so do my kids.  But if more and more of your lemons are turning out like this, you may want to take some action.

What causes this?  It’s a little bud mite which sucks the sap from the lemon flower, causing the poor flower to have a deformed ovary.

The result is a few freaky looking lemons.

If you have lemons like these, don’t worry as it’s rarely life-threatening for your tree.  

And you don’t have to use heavy-artillery (aka: chemicals) to get rid of these guys, either.  There are lots of naturally occurring predatory mites which will take care of most of the problem.

I don’t use any sprays on my tree and only get a handful of these lemons each year.

If you have a more severe infestation, you can spray the tree with an organic summer oil  which causes minimal harm to the beneficial mites, while killing the bud mites.  

But if you have just a few of these misfits, you might consider keeping these lemons as it can be quite entertaining to make ‘artwork’ out of them! 

Take a peek at what my daughter created:



… a little canary


….a Tim Burton character


….and a scary little hand.

The point is, don’t be so quick to throw away this misshapen fruit.

When it’s raining outside (or we’re in a world-wide pandemic and about ready to pull our hair out!) this can be the perfect outlet for you or your budding little artists!

If you’re looking for more fun things to do with kids, take a peek at these past posts:  Growing Mushrooms in a Box | Praying Mantis Nests | Grow Your Own Bean Sprouts | An Old-Fashioned Grape Stomp

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  • I had no clue what to do about mites on the lemon tree. Thanks for the tips. We will enjoy discovering any unusually shaped lemons if we find any, now that we know we can have fun with them.

    • Well, as long as they’re not the dreaded white fly (my trees used to get them every spring), it seems these mites are fairly harmless and while I don’t hope you get them, if you DO at least I hope you have fun with them! 🙂

  • My neighbor has maybe two on his tree this year…first time I have ever noticed them, very weird.
    Also, a mite is not an insect. It has four legs, so it is more closely related to spiders. Insects have six legs.

  • Yikes- Those poor lemons. I sure hope that mite never gets into my Meyer lemons. That would be a sad day.

  • I loved the pictures of your garden on The Gardeners Roundtable site. My favorite gardening magazine is Fine Gardening.

    Even though I design for friends and family, I am not a professional garden designer. I will certainly enjoy your website.

  • I think Christina is talking about the Buddha’s Hand citrus. They’re so pretty, but not really edible like the Meyer’s. I like yours, Rebecca- it’s best of both worlds!

  • What a great post! I love your natural solution and how you embrace these “Charlie Brown” lemons. Go Rebecca!

    • That WOULD be a good book, wouldn’t it? Teach the kids at a young age to have a sense of humor with life….”kinda like when life gives you lemons for lemons…”

  • Isn’t that how that Asian Citrus became famous- I think it’s Vietnamese? A lemon that looks like it’s a hand? You should look that one up, maybe you have a “sport”!!


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