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Monday, April 17, 2017

The Finger Lime - 'citrus australasica' - fam: Rutaceae

Australia has six species of native citrus, with the most well known and cultivated species being the 'Finger Lime'. The Australian Finger Lime is native to the rainforests of the border ranges of SE Queensland and Northern NSW.

In its natural habitat, the Finger Lime grows as an understorey shrub, or tree, up to 6 metres in height on a range of soil types 1.

The fruit of the Australian Finger Lime is sought after by top restaurants around the world. Often described as 'lime caviar' for its small bead-like crystals of tangy juice, it’s used to pep up drinks, in desserts, as a garnish and even to make marmalade. For the home gardener, it is also an attractive tree, growing to six metres, and its thorns provide a perfect habitat for small birds.

The flowers are 10 to 14mm in diameter, white, or pale pink, and appear in late summer (Feb., in Australia) and autumn (May, in Australia). They are followed by elongated fruits about 3-12 cms long. The fruits ripen in winter (Jun.-Aug,) through to spring (Sept.- Nov.) and may be green, yellow, black, purple or red. The pulp is green, yellow or pink 2.

With a delicious aroma of fresh, zesty citrus and a hint of cooked apples, the taste of the Finger Lime is tart with some astringency and bitterness. The pulp contains juice vesicles that resemble caviar. These caviar-like pearls make Finger Lime a popular garnish, while its taste is gaining popularity with chefs throughout Australia 3.

REFERENCES: NSW Government - Prime Facts 1 - Sustainable Gardening Australia 2 - The Australian Super Food Co. 3


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