Millsweet limetta

Citrus limetta Risso

CRC 569
PI 539281
VI 591 


Received as budwood from J.W. Mills, Pomona, Ca, 1914.


Parents unknown.

Rootstocks of accession

Yuma Ponderosa lemon

Season of ripeness at Riverside

Flowers and sets fruit throughout the year.

Notes and observations

Millsweet lemon is a limetta of very low acidity.  Although strongly resembling the lemons, the limettas have distinctive characteristics that set them apart from the true lemons. The tree itself grows as vigorously as the common lemon, with a similar form, but the leaves are more oval, round-pointed, and cupped than the typical lemon leaf. The new growth leaves and blossoms are faintly purple. The fruit is medium-sized, round with a distinctively flattened blossom end.  The nipple is prominent and surrounded by a deep areolar furrow.  The rind is slightly bumpy, pitted with sunken oil glands, and is yellowish-orange at maturity.  The flesh is pale yellow, low-seeded, and low in acidity, giving the juice a sweet taste.  Millsweet flowers and sets fruit throughout the year, but the main flowering season is in the spring.  The fruits hold on the tree well.  Other limettas are Limonette de Marrakech, which is highly acidic, and Mediterranean Sweet Limetta, which is an acidless form.  Externally, the fruits are indistinguishable, and the trees are also similar, except that the new growth and flowers of Mediterranean Sweet Limetta are not tinged with purple.

1985, EMN: Buds selected by J.W. Mills at Pomona, Calif. 1908 and put in seedlings at Riverside Station nursery. Tanaka classifies this as C. limetta (Risso). This accession had exocortis, removed by shoot tip grafting (STG 94-5).

11/18/1987, EMN: Fruit virtually indistinguishable from Marrakech limonette except low in acidity and hence tastes sweet and may be somewhat smaller. Moderately smooth rind. Shape and size of a rough lemon, pronounced nose on most fruits. Lemon-like interior, seeds few & small. Not totally acidless- slightly tart to taste.

Description from The Citrus Industry Vol. 1 (1967)

"Fruit virtually indistinguishable from Marrakech limonette except low in acidity and hence tastes sweet and may average somewhat smaller.

Tree likewise indistinguishable, but perhaps somewhat less vigorous.

This is an old, comparatively little-known fruit in the Mediterranean, but it must have originated there for it was early brought to California, presumably from Mexico.  Lelong (1888) quotes General Vallejo as remembering having eaten the "sweet lemon" at Monterey in 1822 and having seen trees of it that same year growing at the San Gabriel Mission.  Webber named it Millsweet and described it as a sweet lemon variety in 1943."


Commercially available in California through the Citrus Clonal Protection ProgramClick here to order budwood.


USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network page for Millsweet limetta




Photos by Toni Siebert and David Karp, CVC.
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