True to seed

birdsnbloomsJune 18, 2012

Does anyone know if Meyer and Ponderosa Lemons are true to seed?

If they are, I might sow seeds as an experiment.

Will they be thorny? Thanks, Toni

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Yes they will grow true to seed, you just need to figure out which seedling is the nuclear seedling and which are the hybrids (usually the nuclear seedling is the stronger of the multiple seedlings), and yes, seedlings are almost always more thorny, and stay thornier than their grafted counterparts. Lemons are thorny to start with, even Improved Meyer lemons.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:32PM
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johnmerr(11)

The other issue is the Meyer grown from seed will need about 5 years to produce the first fruit. Also, the Meyer root is not very strong; so it may be more susceptible to some diseases, over or under watering, etc.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:41PM
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mrtexas(9a)

I thought meyer lemon does not come true from seed(one of the very few citrus that don't) and grows very well on it's own roots. A large grower in Texas roots thousands of cuttings a year.

Here is a link that might be useful: mrtexas

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:16PM
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johnmerr(11)

A rooted cutting is not a seedling. The Meyer, by best scientific evidence is a cross of an orange, a lemon, and a mandarin. As such, it is sort of hybrid and when you plant the seed you may get a tree that has one of several phenotypes; and one of several root types, none of which are predictable or necessarily good.

In 2006 I planted 500 grafted Meyers imported from California; along side them I planted 500 trees grown from seed. The grafted trees began blooming at 12 months and some produced fruit in 18 months; in four and a half years the seedling trees had yet to produce the first flower and some were tall, some bushy, some very very thorny, some only a little more thorny than the grafted trees; some grew very quickly, others were quite weak... get the idea?
All of them were Meyers and all would produce Meyer lemon fruit; but they would not be Improved Meyer Lemon; the rooted cuttings on the other hand are IML; but without the benefit of a stronger, more resistant rootstock that grafted trees would have. The upside of the rooted cuttings is they are clones; and thus are genetically older than new grafted trees, thus often producing fruit more quickly.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:58PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

I need a cup of coffee. Both are MONOembryionic, both the Meyer and the Ponderosa. Most lemons are either marginially polyembryonic or are monoembryonic (except several of the italian lemons, as well as the Eureka and Lisbon, which are polyembryonic.) So no, they will not produce true from seeds. Sorry. I must not try to do two things at once, getting too old to multi-task! I had mandarins on my mind, apparently, and not lemons. Sorry about that, Toni! And, any citrus seedling (that is polyembryonic and will produce a clone of the mother plant) is going to take years and years to produce. At least 5 years, so keep that in mind. John, your seedling trees from Meyer seeds were all hybrids of some sort. A few might end up being something similar to a Meyer, but most will not. However, you could end up with an exceptional new hybrid - several great citrus out there were the result of a chance hybrid seedling. But, most will be sub-par. If you have the time, interest and space, and a lot of patience, it can be an interesting experiment. But neither will be true to seed for you, Toni. Better to buy a grafted variety if you're wanting a Ponderosa or an IML.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 12:04AM
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johnmerr(11)

Unless I have missed something in my 20 plus years of experience, the Meyer is absolutely true to seed; if you plant a seed from a Meyer lemon you get a Meyer lemon.

Mono-embryonic, poly-embryonic; if you plant a Meyer seed, you will get a Meyer lemon tree.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 12:21AM
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birdsnblooms

Thanks everyone.

I sowed store-bought lemon seeds
(not Ponderosa or Meyers) in 1990. Plant grew '2-3 feet,' and very very thorny at 1.5 yrs.

I thought Meyers and Ponderosa, by chance, would grow without the thorns or, at the least not as big. Thorns were 4-5-inches.

I've read seedlings, without being grafted can take up to 14-years before flowering/fruiting. Some people claim 7-years a few stated their seedlings bloomed after one-year.

Citrus trees were hard to come by here, which is the reason I started a seedling.
One advantage of the store-bought lemon. The leaves were far more fragrant, lemony, than any grafted lemon I now have.

Like I said, I was thinking about sowing seeds as an experiment, but now that thorns were mentioned, and waiting 'X' years before a flower produces, think I'll hold off. lol. Thanks everyone.

Mr. Texas, it's been a long time. Toni

PS: I have no idea how grafting is done, nor do I have the supplies, including root-stock, to do it. Thanks again

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 11:02AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

No, John, they are not.

"Meyer lemon is monoembryonic, and no nucellar seedlings have been reported. Ponderosa lemon and sweet lemon (Moreira et al., 1947) have a very low degree of polyembryony."

Quoted from "The Citrus Industry, Revised Edition, Vol II, University of California, Division of Agricultural Sciences
1967-1989 ", CHAPTER 4, Seed Reproduction: Development of Gametes and Embryos, HOWARD B. FROST and ROBERT K. SOOST.

So no, the Improved Meyer lemon is very monoembryonic, and you're going to get some sort of hybrid from a seed, better, the same or most likely sub-par of the parent(s). The Ponderosa lemon you MIGHT get a chance of polyembryony, and you'll know because you'll have multiple seedlings pop up. Select the larger, more vigorous, and you'll have a higher chance of that seedling being the clone.

And Hopeful, almost all citrus seedlings will be more thorny than their grafted counterparts. Survival reasons (less likely to be eaten by critters when they're young and tender sprouts.)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 12:51PM
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ideal2545(9B)

Guys, what does "true to seed" mean?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:29PM
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birdsnblooms

Ideal. When seeds are sown, and germinate, some types do not resemble parent plant. Some plants look entirely different. These are not 'true to seed.'

True to seed is the opposite. After seed germintes, it looks like parent.

Toni

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:41PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Ideal, most citrus have the ability to develop a clonal seedling that is not a result of pollination. Their seeds are polyembryionic. That means that the seeds can actually develop multiple seedlingm some which develop from the germination tissues of the mother plant, and not due to being a fertilized zygote (a cross between the "mother" plant that created the fruit, and a "father" plant that provided the pollen), as well as hybrid seedlings (those cross-pollinated). The "mother" plant can create a clone of itself, so the seedling will be absolutely identical genetically to the plant bearing the fruit (and the seeds inside the fruit). Polyembryony means that the seed will send up many seedlings from one seed. Those seedlings will be either clonal or zygotic. Usually a combination of both. The clonal (not cross pollinated, but a "clone" of the mother plant) seedling tends almost always to be the strongest seedling, and often the zygotic (cross-pollinated) seedlings are forced out and die. But, you can separate them and try to grow the zygotic seedlings as well as the desired "true to seed" clonal seedling, to see what you end up with. Definitely a crap shoot, and most frequently provides a sub-par hybrid. But not always. Many of our citrus we enjoy today are the result of a chance hybrid seedling. Such as the huge 'Ponderosa' lemon, one of the more popular commercial varieties of the 'Eureka' lemon, the 'Ugli' tangelo, and the delicious 'Trovita'sweet orange. And of course, many wonderful hybrids that were purposeful attempts at cross-pollinated hybrids such as the popular Dekopon or 'Sumo' mandarin).

So, hope that makes sense. Citrus are special in this way, most being polyembryonic, but there are a few citrus that are strongly monoembryonic, so that means they never sprout a clonal seedling, and all seedlings sprouting from seeds are the result of a zygotic cross between the mother plant and whatever other citrus tree's pollen happened to pollinate that flower that created the fruit that has the seeds you want to plant :-)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:14PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

hopeful...Just sow the seeds and see what you get. Either way you'll be growing your trees for a while, might as well see what type of tree you get from store bought seeds. Who knows maybe youll have the next best lemon variety>?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 12:05AM
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eahamel(9a)

I learned in a citrus class that the improved meyer lemon is virus-free, whereas the original Meyer was virused. The instructor, a citrus grower, said that was the only difference.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:44PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Yesm eahamel. They are the same genetic tree, just the Improved Meyer no longer carries the Tristeza virus. But, I think the question isn't about the Meyer vs. the Improved Meyer (we just call it the Meyer because there are no commercially available Meyer lemon trees any longer), but a question about whether or not the (Improved) Meyer and the Ponderosa lemons will come true to seed. They will not, although you might get a slim chance with a Ponderosa seed.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:26PM
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billb55

Hello All,
I have a few seedlings that have just started to sprout, and am disappointed to read that my efforts were apparently in vain. Maybe I'll try cuttings instead. One last question for hoosierquilt though: If "all seedlings sprouting from seeds are the result of a zygotic cross between the mother plant and whatever other citrus tree's pollen happened to pollinate that flower", and the only citrus tree for miles around is my Meyer Lemon (I live in Massachusetts), does it still mean that the seeds will not come true? The tree bears fruit only when I am the pollinator, moving pollen from the stamens of some of the flowers to the pistils of others, though it does occasionally bloom in the summer, and then the flowers get pollinated by insects outdoors. Thanks again--I'm glad I found this forum; googling Meyer Lemon seed propagation takes you to lots of places that tell you that the seeds do in fact breed true, which I now understand is probably not true, sadly. I'll wait for the answer to this last question before chucking the little seedlings.
Bill

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:00PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Well, is this a hypothetical or practical question? If practical, the chances would be that the zygotic cross most likely would then be a Meyer lemon, or something very close. But, I would venture to say, how do you know for absolutely sure you don't have other citrus close by? Kind of depends where you live. Even in non-citrus states, folks will bring out their container citrus, and that can be anything. If hypothetical, then your chances would be excellent the seeds in that fruit are going to sprout a Meyer lemon. And, no the tree will not only bear fruit if "you are the pollenator". Citrus are also parthenocarpic, the ability to bear fruit without the aid of pollination). Now I know what your next question is - if the fruit is producted via parthenocarpy, won't it simply be a clone of the parent tree? Good question. I would suspect that it might be a variation on the Meyer hybrid. It could be just like the parent tree, be more "lemon-like" or more "orange/mandarin" like (I think the jury is still out on where their is orange or mandarin in the genetic background of the Meyer lemon, unless UCR or another citrus research facility has mapped the genome.)

All this being said - although it can be fun to grow a citrus seedling, it can take years and years and years as John has mentioned, for a seedling tree to bear fruit. Unless you're into hybridization experiments, for most folks, buying a grafted 2 to 3 year old tree will provide you fruit within a year or two.

Ideal, I missed your question. True to seed means that the seedling will produce a plant that is the same as the parent plant the fruit came from (and produce the same fruits). So, the question was with this thread, if you plant a Meyer or Ponderosa lemon seed, will it produce a Meyer or Ponderosa lemon tree (and producing the same fruits as the parent tree.)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 3:08PM
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birdsnblooms

Bill and Patty.
Regarding Meyer's and pollination.

I once purchased a Meyer's at Home Depot for 10.00. It never saw the outdoors, and I didn't hand-pollinate, yet it produced flowers and fruit, indoors 13-years..
Believe me, bees were't flying around the house. lol.

My poor Meyer's did well, until dh built a gh. I stupidly placed my Meyer's in the small winter shelter. On one of the coldest nights in winter, the heater went out. I woke to find 30-something frozen plants. It's been a while so I can't recall the exact number.

But, imo, Meyer'e do not need insects to produce.

BTW, I have enough nursery-bought citrus, so decided not to sow seeds.
Don't feel like waiting X yrs, nor do I need a thorny plant.

When/If Fl's ban ends, there are a couple more 'grafted' trees I'd like to add.

Thanks for your help. Toni

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 11:06AM
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johnmerr(11)

Meyers do not need bees to produce fruit; but they do need bees to produce seeds.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 10:17PM
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