Lead Plant Focus :: Citrus (Refreshing)

Lemon tree

Lemon. Is there any scent more heartening and uplifting?  Well, maybe lemon’s cousins of grapefruit and the other citrus fruits may be on a par, but I imagine the lemon is what most people think of when you mention “citrus”.  A blast of lemony fragrance lifts your mood and wakes you up – it’s the perfect scent to get you going on a grey morning and it is one of my favourites of the Weleda range.

The lemon is an evergreen tree native to Asia.  Its exact origins are unclear, but it is thought to be a cultivated hybrid that originated from the area around north east India. It now grows throughout the world in what would be considered a “Mediterranean” climate.  Like the sunshiney colour of its fruit, this is a plant that needs the warmth of the sun and needs a minimum temperature of about 7°C to survive (but preferably warmer).  There is one very happily growing in the garden of my father’s house near the French/Spanish border and apparently this year is absolutely laden with fruit (what a problem to have?!)

Citrus fruit have been cultivated for what is thought to be thousands of years, but lemons themselves came to Europe around the second century AD.  However, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that they began to be more widely cultivated for human use.   Rich in Vitamin C and citric acid, lemons have a sour taste and astringent effect.  In Ayurvedic medicine (an approach that originated in India)  it is believed that a cup of warm water with lemon juice helps support the liver to detoxify and “wake” the digestive system. I certainly like to start my day with a slice of lemon in a mug of water.   Lemon can also help with nausea and great for use when you have a cold (or similar) in a warm drink (perhaps with a dash of honey if you’re not vegan and I like to also fresh grated ginger).

I always have a supply of unwaxed lemons in the house and when I can get them on offer, making preserved lemons is a wonderful thing!  They have so many uses, from their various culinary options, to avoiding potentially toxic chemicals when cleaning my house.  I pop squeezed out lemon halves in a jar with white vinegar to make a fabulous natural cleaner that really powers through grease and grime.  I also use it as “rinse aid” in my dishwasher. It’s also a wonderful deodoriser and has a gentle bleaching effect.  It’s also handy in a spray to scrub out the chicken coop (because I try to avoid using any nasties with them as well).   I will also use with bicarbonate of soda as a scrub on tougher areas (hard water marks on the bath and shower screen, for example).  A more strange use for half a lemon is to hook it up to electrodes as a source of electricity (yes, really!)

The Use of Lemons in Cosmetics

But, of course, what interests me here is the use of lemon in Weleda’s Citrus range of cosmetics.  As already mentioned, lemon is useful for its cleansing and astringent properties.  For cosmetic purposes it is useful in removing excess oil, tightening and toning, and also the balancing of the ph of skin.  It can also help to reduce perspiration (as in the deodorant range).  The lemon’s richly fragranced essential oils are of great value in cosmetic production and Limonene and Citral are amongst the ingredients you will find in Weleda’s products that may come from these oils.

The lemon (and other citrus trees) differ from many other fruiting trees in that blossom and fruit can be present on the tree at the same time.  It is this bursting vitality that brings such energy to the range.  The scent of lemon brings the fresh summer sunshine into your home, making it ideal for anyone (like me) who could do with a bit of a boost to their mornings! Not only does it refresh, but lemon also brings a sense of balance, combatting fatigue and aiding relaxation.  It’s good for both the body and the soul!

Picking lemons in Sicily

Sourcing the lemons used in Weleda’s Ranges

The lemons used by Weleda are biodynamically grown* by the Salamita Co-operative in Sicily.  The co-operative have been growing biodynamic lemons since 1976 and comprise of around 100 businesses who cultivate an acreage of some 2000 hectares.  The peak season for harvesting is between November and May and 75,000 tonnes of citrus fruit are processed.  100 kilos of lemons produce only around 300 grams of essential oil!

Links and references

* Biodynamic farming: essentially organic (plus some), please visit https://www.biodynamic.org.uk for a more comprehensive explanation.

Image Credits

All images courtesy of Weleda, unless otherwise stated.

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