Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side


The ‘Mite-y’ Lemon


Eureka lemon trees are notorious for producing freakishly shaped lemons – especially along cooler coastal climates (like ours in the Bay Area).  

Personally, I like the occasional odd-ball that my tree kicks out – and so do 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 freaky looking lemons.GreenBar

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 a ‘summer oil’ (sold at most nurseries) which causes minimal harm to the beneficial mites, while killing the bud mites.  Some of these types of oils contain petroleum products, but there’s more and more available which are vegetable oil-based, which work just as well.

But if you have just a few of these misfits, and you have kids, 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 canaryGreenBar




A Tim Burton characterGreenBar



And a scary little hand.


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

When it’s raining outside, and the kids are bored, it can be the perfect outlet for your budding little artist!GreenBar


9 Responses to The ‘Mite-y’ Lemon

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

    • 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…”

  4. 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”!!