Is Lemon a Fruit or Vegetable?

Sometimes you may find lemons in the veggie section at the supermarket, and it can be a little confusing. However, while we all may have an idea in our heads about what plants are fruits, and which are vegetables, the official oxford dictionary helps get us an official answer. 

Based on the definition of fruit being “the part of a plant that consists of one or more seeds and flesh, can be eaten as food and usually tastes sweet“, a lemon is a fruit. 

What is a Fruit? 

As stated above, the defining characteristic of fruit is that it has seeds, and can be eaten. These fruits usually grow from a flower that grew from a seed. Basically, the fruit is an ovary, and it contains ovules that become seeds after reproduction. However, taste is also sometimes a factor in determining if something is a fruit or not. By the botanical definition, green peppers are also considered a fruit, but you don’t see many people adding those to their fruit salad! Fleshy fruits “usually taste sweet” as we’ve seen above, or at the very least are usually most often associated with sweet dishes rather than savory ones. 

What is a Lemon? 

When someone asks you what a lemon is, you probably would say that it is a fruit. However, what some people don’t know is that it is actually a combination of two fruits. 

Although the origin of the lemon is unknown, they are thought to have first grown in northeast India. A genomic study of the lemon determined that it is, in fact, a man-made combination of a marmalade orange and a citron. The exact cultivation of the fruit is unknown, but scientists believe it is roughly four thousand years old. The first substantial cultivation didn’t happen until 1493 when Christopher Columbus made his second voyage to the New World, bringing lemon seeds with him. 

Over the next couple hundred years, lemons began to be used as medicine, for fragrant perfumes, and for cleaning purposes. It is by far one of mankind’s greatest innovations.