While studying the destruction of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians, I came across an interesting mention of India. Citron was imported from India to Ancient Persia / Babylon and from there it came to Jerusalem. And then I bumped into those in Sicily. Here’s the wiki entry. Some interesting factoids…
The citron could also be native to India where it borders on Burma, in valleys at the foot of theHimalayas, and in the Indian Western Ghats. It is thought that by the time of Theophrastus, the citron was mostly cultivated in the Persian Gulf on its way to the Mediterranean basin, where it was cultivated during the later centuries in different areas as described by Erich Isaac.Many mention the role of Alexander the Great and his armies as they attacked Persia and what is today Pakistan, as being responsible for the spread of the citron westward, reaching the European countries such as Macedonia and Italy. The citron is mentioned in the Torah as being required for ritual use during the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40). According to this tradition, the Jews brought it back to Israel from their exile in Egypt, where the Egyptologist and archaeologist Victor Loret claimed to have identified it depicted on the walls of the botanical garden at the Karnak Temple, which dates back to the time of Thutmosis III, approximately 3,000 years ago.
how fascinating, eh? I love this fruit, delicious….and a commentary by Theophrastus..
In the east and south there are special plants... i.e. in Media and Persia there are many types of fruit, between them there is a fruit called Median or Persian Apple. The tree has a leaf similar to and almost identical with that of the andrachn (Arbutus andrachne L.), but has thorns like those of the apios (the wild pear, Pyrus amygdaliformis Vill.) or the firethorn, Cotoneaster pyracantha Spach.), except that they are white, smooth, sharp and strong.
Spines of the Firethorn.
The fruit is not eaten, but is very fragrant, as is also the leaf of the tree; and the fruit is put among clothes, it keeps them from being moth-eaten. It is also useful when one has drunk deadly poison, for when it is administered in wine; it upsets thestomach and brings up the poison. It is also useful to improve the breath, for if one boils the inner part of the fruit in a dish or squeezes it into the mouth in some other medium, it makes the breath more pleasant.
The seed is removed from the fruit and sown in the spring in carefully tilled beds, and it is watered every fourth or fifth day. As soon the plant is strong it is transplanted, also in the spring, to a soft, well watered site, where the soil is not very fine, for it prefers such places.
And it bears its fruit at all seasons, for when some have gathered, the flower of the others is on the tree and is ripening others. Of the flowers I have said those that have a sort of distaff [meaning the pistil] projecting from the middle are fertile, while those that do not have this are sterile. It is also sown, like date palms, in pots punctured with holes.
This tree, as has been remarked, grows in Media and Persia.
So for friends in Europe and USA, when you are squeezing a lemon on yourself or on your dishes, remember the antecedents of this lovely little fruit.