Citrus medica

Common name   Citron
Hebrew name   אתרוג
أللّغة آلعربيّة   اترج, عورزم نوميل
Family Rutaceae
Petals 5
Leaf form Simple
Leaf margin Entire
Habitat Light soils
צורת הגבעול Round
Life form Tree
Flowering months
Herbal Medicinal


© Photo: Avraham Plotnitzky  
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Additional pictures:

Additional information

Citron is a small and thorny evergreen tree. Its thorns are short and rigid. Its fruit is used in the Sukkoth ritual, which is its main usage. The leaf is lanceolate, 15 cm long, its margin is dentate.
Citrus medica blooms in the spring and summer months. The flower is white on the inside, pink or purple on the outside. There are numerous stamens, 30 or more. The shape and structure of the flower is similar to that of other citruses.
The fruit is juicy, divided into slices, and each slice contains juice saccules. The size of the fruit is between a lemon and an orange. It has an elongated ovate shape, narrowing towards a protruberance (which is a remnant of the style). The fruit peal is scabrous, yellow, thick and fragrant. The pulp is very limited compared to other citrus fruits, sour and not tasty. The pulp and the peal are used for making jam and sweets, as well as for cosmetics. However, the citron’s main use is religious.
This is the first citrus tree that came to the Middle East, apparently already 6000 years ago. Its origin is unknown, perhaps from India or from southern Arabia. It was perhaps brought to the Land of Israel from Madai (Iran) by immigrants from Babylonia during the time of the Second Temple, and was identified with the biblical plant “boughs of goodly trees” (Leviticus 23: 40), which is among the 4 kinds that are customarily used for blessings on Sukkoth. The citron became a customary symbol in Jewish art since the days of the Mishnah.
In the scientific classification citruses are regarded as a genus or group of genera in the Rutaceae family, and the citron is one of the species in this group.

Written by Mike Livne


Citrus medica is one of the four kinds – “boughs of goodly trees”.
The citron is a symbol of fertility and perfection.
For fulfilling the commandment of the four kinds:
It is preferable that its color be closer to yellow than to green, the peal must not be punctured in any part of the fruit, and it is forbidden that even a small piece of the inner layer be missing.
The citron must be free of any scratches, cracks or black spots. If the citron grew with a stem that protrudes (protruberance), it must be intact and the stem must not be broken (however, if the citron originally grew without the protrusion, it is still fit for use).
Many idioms have been coined with reference to the citron. One of them, “citron after Sukkoth” means – not current and not relevant.