All about native limes

Australia is home to six species of native citrus one of which has gained popularity recently in the culinary world. They are a unique fruit that adds classic citrus zing to a recipe and provides visual appeal to both sweet and savoury dishes. Often referred to as ‘finger limes’, the trees grow up to 5 metres in height and produce a lovely cream flower from late winter through to spring, producing fruit up to 5 months after flowering. They’re easy to grow, like partial shade to full sun in well-drained soil with a pH of 5-6.5.

Light pruning in spring is recommended, however be careful not to prune too harshly when fruit is forming as you risk accidentally cutting off your upcoming crop. An organic, complete fertiliser in pellet form during late winter and spring will benefit the tree greatly. Some advice from local citrus expert Scott Moore (That Citrus Guy): “Two hints I would give; do not over water or over feed the Finger Lime (or any of their hybrid partners). They particularly dislike wet
feet.”

Probably the most popular and cultivated of the native limes is the Australian Finger Lime (Citrus australasica). Other species included Finger Lime Pink
Ice (Citrus australasica), Finger Lime Judy’s Everbearing (Citrus australasica), Australian Red Centre Lime, Australian Sunrise Lime and the Desert Lime (Citrus glauca). These native citrus species have the ability to hybridise with a range of other citrus species and have been involved in rootstock trials resulting in the successful grafting onto conventional citrus rootstocks. This attribute, as well as their resistance to disease, and tolerance to both salinity and drought have long attracted interest from citrus breeders and research bodies, including the CSIRO.

If you’d like to start growing your own native citrus trees, That Citrus Guy has a selection available – you can catch him at the Bindoon Farmers Market on
Sunday, July 23. You can also taste test terrific jams and marmalades made with native citrus by Marvick Farms available at markets at the Treetops Guesthouse and Outback Chef stand

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