A Secret about Citrus Circles

On March 14 (3/14) we celebrate Pi! When you multiply the width of a circle by pi (3.14159265…), you get the distance around the edge. So we’re celebrating some of our favorite circle-shaped foods, like oranges, lemons and limes. If you slice across any citrus fruit, you’ll see a circle divided into little pie sections called “liths.” The number can differ, but photos show that most lemons have 8 or 9 liths; oranges and limes have 10 to 12; and grapefruit can have 14 or more. And you can figure out the number before cutting the fruit — read on to learn the secret!

Wee ones: Can you count the pie sections of the lemon slice in the middle of the picture? How many do you count?

Little kids: Which has more sections, a 10-lith lime or an 8-lith lemon? Bonus: If your orange has 12 cute little sections, and 4 of them have seeds you have to spit out, how many don’t?

Big kids: SECRET: If you pull that bellybutton thing off a citrus fruit and count the little white dots under it, it tells how many sections the fruit has! If each of your 2 grapefruits have 14 dots, how many liths do they have together?  Bonus: If your pile of 9-segment lemons and 14-segment grapefruit has 51 sections in total, how many of each fruit must you have?

Wee ones: We count 8 pie sections.

Little kids: The lime.  Bonus: 8 seed-free sections.

Big kids: 28 liths.  Bonus: 3 grapefruit and 1 lemon. If you keep subtracting 9 from 51, the only result that is divisible by 14 is 42 (51 minus 9).

Recent Posts

Pick a Math Skill

Pick a Topic


Daily Routine




Science and Nature


Vehicles and Transportation