Why Do Lemons Have Seeds While Limes Do Not?
Lemons and limes are similar in flavor and feel, as both are tart, acidic, and juicy. And while some people prefer lemon in their water or lime in their margaritas, for example, they can be used in the same way virtually all the time — which is to add that sour, tangy punch to whatever you're sipping, snacking on, or whisking up.
Both lemons and limes also work well in baked goods, too, like lemon or lime bars, or pie, ice cream, and sorbet, fresh-squeezed juice, sauces, and dressings. They can even be used simply as a basic garnish; add zest alongside your favorite meat, fish, and plant-based protein and greens for a tart hint of the fruit without all the bite.
However, despite their versatility, there is one surprising distinction between these two kinds of citrus, and that's that lemons usually contain seeds whereas limes do not. (You never really noticed that, huh? Well, me neither.)
Now when you think about it, you can probably picture yourself removing seeds as you pick up a lemon wedge before squeezing out the juice. But you can't say the same for limes, as they come seedless. To be fair, there are seedless lemons and seed-bearing limes that do exist; however, you will have trouble finding those varieties at the supermarket these days.
For our sake of thinking and classifying, lemons have seeds and limes do not. Any lemons that you'd find in the produce aisle when at the grocery store or when dining out at a restaurant will have seeds. Likewise, seedless limes are the most common variety of limes, so you're most likely never going to see a lime with seeds by surprise, either.
Why Do Lemons Have Seeds?
"Seeds are for reproduction, or seed dispersal, in plants, although there are other ways to reproduce aside from seeds, so that's the baseline reason," says Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist, Ginger Hultin, owner of ChampagneNutrition and author of Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep and How to Eat to Beat Disease Cookbook.
When lemons grow next to other fruits, they can cross-pollinate, and a seedless lemon can develop. But this is rare, and when grown with other lemons, they should all end up containing seeds.
Plus, lemon trees are usually self-pollinating. That means you can actually hold onto those seeds, rather than toss them out in the trash, and you can grow a new lemon tree by simply planting a lemon seed in the soil and watering it as you would with any seed of a fruit.
Why Are Limes Seedless?
Some limes do have seeds, but they are commonly seedless, so any typical lime you'd buy or see on a plate would be seedless as well.
"Many consumers prefer the seedless variety of fruit, and some of the seedless variety also have thicker skin and a longer shelf life in stores," Hultin says. So, "in order to make new lime trees without the seeds in the fruit, farmers actually graft trees," she explains, where they could then be seen as more appealing and practical.
Typical limes, those you'd find in the grocery store, are "parthenocarpic," which means that the flowers don't need to be fertilized to make new fruit. So, seeds aren't necessary.
The good news is the seeds don't really matter! There's no reason to choose lemons over limes for the seed unless you're looking to grow a lemon tree. Otherwise, there's no nutritional benefit or other use.
California limes seeds
Citrus latifolia (Yu. Tanaka) Tanaka
Photos by David Karp and Toni Siebert, CVC, 11/03/2009. Photo rights.
Source: Received as budwood from Willits & Newcomb, Thermal, Ca, 1977.
Parentage/origins: Original source tree came from Hayos Ranch, Indio, Ca. Bearss lime is reported to have originated as a seedling of a tree grown from seed from a fruit of Tahitian origin.
Rootstocks of accession: Citrus macrophylla, Yuma Ponderosa lemon
Season of ripeness at Riverside: October to December
Notes and observations:
C. latifolia, is known by many names such as Tahitian lime, Bearss lime, and Persian lime. The nearly-thornless trees grow vigorously to a medium-large size with a spreading form and have white blossoms. Persian lime trees are more cold-hardy than Mexican lime trees and should do well in areas where lemons are successfully grown. To date, all Persian lime trees are known to carry wood pocket, which can cause serious deterioration of the trees. The fruits of Persian lime are larger than Mexican limes, approximately 2-2 ½ inches in diameter, and have a thin, smooth, light yellow rind at full maturity. The seedless flesh is pale greenish-yellow, acidic, juicy and finely-textured. Once Persian limes reach full maturity, usually late autumn to early winter, they drop from the tree.
1986, EMN: Original source was VI 229 (exoc. positive) which was shoot tip grafted to produce VI 358. VI 229 was: Old budline Bearss, W/N Blk E, R 10W, T13E. W/N source came from Hayos Ranch, Indio. This accession still contains Wood Pocket; neither STG not thermotherapy were effective in removing wood pocket.
11/9/1987, EMN: Fruit compared with CRC 450 (Wilder), 2315 (Page), 391 (Tahiti) and seems to be identical with all these, and probably identical to Ponds (CRC 449) but Ponds was somewhat rougher at this picking.
" Both tree and fruit of the Bearss variety correspond closely with the Tahiti description. The flowers are devoid of viable pollen also, contain exceedingly few functional ovules, and the fruits are regularly seedless. The Bearss variety is triploid in its genetic constitution (Bacchi, 1940). Moreover, the comparatively rare seeds which occur are highly monoembryonic also.
According to Webber (1943), this variety originated about 1895 on the place of J.T. Bearss, a nurseryman at Porterville, California. While the facts are unknown, it presumably occurred as a seedling of a tree grown from seed from a fruit of Tahitian origin. It seems first to have been described and illustrated by Lelong (1902) and was introduced and promoted by the Fancher Creek Nursery Company of Fresno in 1905. Although the Tahiti lime was reported to be growing in Florida as early as 1883 (Ziegler and Wolfe, 1961), it is not known when Bearss was introduced there. Moreover, the present lime industry in Florida is based on a variety known as Persian. For many years, therefore, it appeared that the two varieties were different though obviously similar. Comparisons conducted in California, however, although not wholly satisfactory because of complicating disease factors, strongly support the conclusion that the two clones are identical. If this is indeed the case, it seems highly probable that this variety originated considerably earlier than Webber reports.
Found about 1934 by G. L. Polk in Homestead, Florida, and introduced in 1941 (U.S. Plant Patent No. 444) is the derivative, smaller, round-fruited variety, named Idemor, which occurred as a limb sport. More recently, what appears to be a similar mutation has been reported in a Bearss tree in Morocco. Idemor has not achieved commercial importance. "
Availability: Commercially available in California through the Citrus Clonal Protection Program. Click here to o rder budwood.
Key Lime Seeds
Our farm fresh, naturally grown Key Lime seeds allow you to grow your own fruit trees, indoor or outdoor. Often referred to as Mexican Limes and Bartender Limes, these are the original lime types cut into wedges and served in Mexico with Corona beer bottles.
Key Lime trees are vigorous fruit producers and a single seed has the potential of yielding thousands of Limes. While these trees produce can fruit throughout the year, the majority of the crop is harvest-ready in the fall and winter.
Key Lime trees can be grown on balconies, patios, and limited-space gardens. Enjoy the attractive trees and the scent of indoor winter blossoms if you choose to plant your citrus trees in an indoor container. Due to USDA guidelines and regulations, citrus seeds cannot be shipped to the following states and territories: AS, AZ, CA, FL, GU, HI, LA, MP, PR, TX and USVI.
Our complete tropical fruit seed collection includes Key Lime, Mexican Lime, Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange, Mango, Kiwano Horned Melon, Dragon Fruit (Pitaya), Hass Avocado, and Papaya seeds. Our tropical fruit seeds combined with our pepper seeds provide growers with a unique experience: paradise and a little spice!
11 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews
Posted by Kristeen Laird on 18th Sep 2019
Following the directions on the website, my seeds sprouted. Took longer than I thought, but they're great now.
The key lime seeds received where great!
Posted by oscar on 10th Aug 2019
I've been looking for a place that sold lemon tree seeds and I'm glad Tyler Farms offers what I have been looking for quite a while now. The seeds germinated and I'm looking forward to a good harvest in a couple of years. Thanks Tyler Farms!
Posted by Daniel on 16th Jun 2019
I planted multiple seeds in plastics cups in moist soil wrapped in plastic and left in a sunny warm location. What I witnessed was that all of the seeds germinated.
Posted by AZ Gardner on 11th May 2018
After shopping around and evaluating different seed companies, I decided to order several different seeds from Tyler Farms and I am so glad that I did. My small package of seeds arrived within a week of when I ordered them and I am on my way towards creating an edible garden.
bought lime last year, this year adding lemon
Posted by Debbie Mitchell, Durham on 26th Mar 2018
Last year bought 10 lime seeds. Did so well now adding lemon to my citrus garden. Enjoy growing my own stuff and not having to buy it at stores.
Good seeds and service
Posted by Unknown on 23rd Feb 2018
Kirk (one of the customer service guys) was very helpful in providing me with a few grow tips to help kickstart my tropical fruit tree garden. The key lime seeds I received were fresh and healthy and I planted them immediately. I reached out to Tyler Farms to see best practices with fruit seed starting and they were very helpful. I'm really happy with my purchase and glad I ordered from these guys. Thumbs up.
Posted by A Corona on 10th Nov 2017
I am about to get my (Key) Lime.
Posted by restaurant avison on 1st Aug 2017
Fresh seeds and a low price! I still don't undesrtand why people buy expensive trees when they can grow their own from seeds, I have 4 seeds that i have sprouted so far and two more than should sprout any day now.