American Wonder Lemon: The Growth of a Legend

ponderosa lemon web

Giant lemon growing on the American Wonder Lemon Tree

The American Wonder Lemon is the biggest lemon tree most people have ever seen. The 117-year-old tree fills an entire greenhouse at the Logee’s plant nursery in Danielson, Connecticut. But what is most impressive isn’t the size of the tree—it’s the size of the lemons that grow on the tree.

The typical supermarket lemon weighs about three to four ounces. The lemons that grow prolifically on the American Wonder Lemon Tree can weigh up to five pounds. Every year the enormous tree produces a new crop of fruit, and some of the giant lemons are the size of small melons.

Over the years, as the tree grew bigger and bigger, so did its fame. Visitors from the neighboring area started to make special trips to see the tree. By the 1950s, the American Wonder Lemon Tree had become a tourist attraction. Thousands of visitors from across America and throughout the world come to see the famous tree each year. Those who have made the pilgrimage include actress Audrey Hepburn, illustrator Tasha Tudor and TV maven Martha Stewart.

A Mail Order Beginning

The American Wonder Lemon tree dates back to the year 1900. William D. Logee, who had founded a flower business a few years earlier, had a passion for collecting rare and exotic plants. He ordered a Ponderosa Lemon tree from a mail order company in Philadelphia. The plant traveled by train to northeast Connecticut, and with great anticipation it was picked up at the train station and brought to the Logee’s greenhouse by horse and buggy.

The potted lemon tree thrived in the warm, moist greenhouse, and its root system soon grew through the pot and into the dirt floor. “In effect, the tree planted itself in the greenhouse,” says Byron Martin, the third generation owner of Logee’s. The tree has been growing in that spot ever since.

The tree that began as an ordinary Citrus limon ‘Ponderosa’ and is now called the American Wonder Lemon Tree has thousands of offspring growing all over North America. Every year, cuttings are taken from the tree and the small plants are sold in the Logee’s mail order catalog and on www.logees.com. A small American Wonder ‘Ponderosa’ tree in a five-inch pot sells for $24.95, and the supply sells out every year.

Ponderosa Lemon Tree web125th Anniversary

This year, as Logee’s celebrates its 125th anniversary, the American Wonder Lemon Tree continues to be the star attraction. Many additional greenhouses were built on the property as the company grew more and more plants. But the building everyone wants to visit in Danielson, Connecticut (about halfway between Hartford, CT and Providence, RI) is the old greenhouse where the American Wonder Lemon Tree planted itself.

Logee’s nursery is a destination greenhouse for anyone who loves fruiting plants, tropical plants or rare plants. The retail store is open daily. On June 17th, the company will host a special celebration called Logee’s 125th Anniversary Celebrating Fruiting, Rare and Tropical Plants. For more information about the store, special events and the hundreds of unique plants the company sells, visit www.logees.com. Also visit explore.logees.com to see “what’s growing on at Logee’s.”