More or less evergreen to semi-deciduous shrub to 5 m or so tall. Branchlets hairless or with a covering of short, curved hairs. Leaves mostly 2-6 cm long,1-2 cm wide, elliptic to slightly ovate or obovate. Leaf stalk 1-5 mm long. Flower clusters mostly 5-15 cm long, stalks with a covering of short, curved hairs. Flowers with tube 4-6 mm long, slightly longer than the lobes; filaments wholly protruding from the flower tube; spring to summer. Fruit 8-10 mm wide,more or less spherical, purplish black.
The distinction between L. vulgare and L. ovalifolium is not clear. Floras of Europe and Japan, and horticultural floras differ in their descriptions of leaf persistence (in the range evergreen to deciduous) and shape, as well as of the presence or absence and quality of hair on branchlets and flower clusters. These characters appear to intergrade and there is therefore the probability of confusion in horticulture, a problem compounded by the possibility of hybridisation. However, it appears that in Australia L. ovalifolium has larger flower clusters, the stamens clearly protruding, and the flower tube distinctly longer than the flower lobes which bend back at maturity.
Source: (2002). Oleaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 4. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 3. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.
Leaves with a creamy white marginal band. [L. 'Variegatum']
Leaves variegated with a golden margin, grey-green inner margin and dark green centre.
Originated before 1862.
'Lemon & Lime' Plant Varieties Journal 11(3)52.