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The Key lime (''Citrus'' × ''aurantiifolia'') is a
citrus hybrid Citrus taxonomy refers to the botanical classification of the species, variety (botany), varieties, cultivars, and Graft-chimaera, graft hybrids within the genus ''Citrus'' and related genera, found in cultivation and in the wild. Citrus taxonomy ...
('' C. hystrix'' × ''
C. medica The citron (''Citrus medica'') is a large fragrant citrus ''Citrus'' is a of trees and s in the family, . Plants in the genus produce citrus fruits, including important crops such as , , s, s, and . The genus ''Citrus'' is native to , ...
'') native to tropical
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. It has a spherical fruit, in diameter. The Key lime is usually picked while it is still green, but it becomes yellow when ripe. The Key lime is smaller, seedier, has higher acidity, stronger aroma, and thinner rind than the
Persian lime Persian lime (''Citrus × latifolia''), also known by other common names such as seedless lime, Bearss lime and Tahiti lime, is a citrus fruit species of hybrid (biology), hybrid origin, known only in Cultivation of the land, cultivation. The Per ...
(''Citrus × latifolia''). It is valued for its characteristic flavor. The name comes from its association with the
Florida Keys The Florida Keys are a coral island, coral cay archipelago located off the southern coast of Florida, forming the southernmost part of the continental United States. They begin at the southeastern coast of the Florida peninsula, about south of ...
, where it is best known as the
flavor Flavor, or flavour, is the perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

flavor
ing ingredient in Key lime pie. It is also known as West Indian lime, bartender's lime, Omani lime, or Mexican lime, the last classified as a distinct race with a thicker skin and darker green colour. Philippine varieties have various names, including ''dayap'' and ''bilolo''.


Etymology

The English word ''lime'' was derived, via
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
then
French
French
, from the Arabic word ''līma'', which is, in turn, a derivation of the
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
word ''limu'' . ''Key'' is from
Florida Keys The Florida Keys are a coral island, coral cay archipelago located off the southern coast of Florida, forming the southernmost part of the continental United States. They begin at the southeastern coast of the Florida peninsula, about south of ...
, where the fruit was naturalised. The earliest known use of the name is from 1905, where the fruit was described as "the finest on the market. It is aromatic, juicy, and highly superior to the lemon."


Description

''C. aurantiifolia'' is a shrubby tree, to , with many thorns. Dwarf varieties exist that can be grown indoors during winter months and in colder climates. Its trunk, which rarely grows straight, has many branches, and they often originate quite far down on the trunk. The leaves are ovate, long, resembling
orange Orange most often refers to: *Orange (colour), occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum *Orange (fruit), the fruit of the tree species '' Citrus'' × ''sinensis'' ** Orange blossom, its fragrant flower *Some other citrus or citrus-li ...
leaves (the scientific name ''aurantiifolia'' refers to this resemblance to the leaves of the orange, ''
Citrus aurantium Bitter orange, Seville orange, sour orange, bigarade orange, or marmalade orange is the citrus ''Citrus'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extan ...

Citrus aurantium
''). The
flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Image:Cerisier du Japon Prunus serrulata.jpg, Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other plan ...

flower
s are in diameter, are yellowish white with a light purple tinge on the margins. Flowers and fruit appear throughout the year, but are most abundant from May to September in the Northern Hemisphere.''Citrus aurantiifolia'' Swingle
Hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved on 2011-06-19.
Skin contact can sometimes cause
phytophotodermatitis Phytophotodermatitis, also known as berloque dermatitis or margarita photodermatitis, is a cutaneous phototoxic inflammatory reaction resulting from contact with a light-sensitizing botanical agent followed by exposure to ultraviolet Ultravi ...

phytophotodermatitis
, which makes the skin especially sensitive to
ultraviolet Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, ...

ultraviolet
light.


History

The Key lime cultivar is a
citrus hybrid Citrus taxonomy refers to the botanical classification of the species, variety (botany), varieties, cultivars, and Graft-chimaera, graft hybrids within the genus ''Citrus'' and related genera, found in cultivation and in the wild. Citrus taxonomy ...
, ''
Citrus micrantha ''Citrus'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, viruses. ...
'' × ''
Citrus medica The citron (''Citrus medica'') is a large fragrant citrus fruit with a thick rind. It is one of the three original citrus fruits from which all other citrus types developed through natural hybrid speciation Hybrid speciation is a form of sp ...

Citrus medica
'' (a papeda-
citron The citron (''Citrus medica'') is a large fragrant citrus fruit with a thick Peel (fruit), rind. It is one of the original citrus fruits from which all other citrus types developed through natural hybrid speciation or artificial Hybrid (biolog ...

citron
cross). ''Citrus aurantiifolia'' is native to
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. Its apparent path of introduction was through the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
to
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, then to
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
and
Andalucia Andalusia (, ; es, Andalucía ) is the southernmost Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community in Peninsular Spain. It is the most populous and the second largest autonomous community in the country. The Andalusian autonomous communi ...

Andalucia
and then, via Spanish explorers, to the
West Indies The West Indies are a subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, in ...
, including the
Florida Keys The Florida Keys are a coral island, coral cay archipelago located off the southern coast of Florida, forming the southernmost part of the continental United States. They begin at the southeastern coast of the Florida peninsula, about south of ...
.
Henry Perrine Henry Perrine (5 April 1797 – 7 August 1840) was a physician, horticulturist, United States Consul (representative), Consul in Campeche, Campeche, Mexico, and an enthusiast for introducing Tropics, tropical plants into Plant cultivation, culti ...
is credited with introducing the Key lime to Florida. From the Caribbean, lime cultivation spread to tropical and subtropical North America, including
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organi ...

Mexico
,
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
, and later
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
. In California in the late 19th century, "Mexican" limes were more highly valued than lemons; however, in Florida, they were generally considered weeds. Then, in 1894–95, the
Great Freeze The Great Freeze is the back-to-back freezes of 1894–1895 in Florida Florida (, ) is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. With a population of over 21million, Florida is t ...

Great Freeze
destroyed the Florida lemon groves, and farmers replanted Mexican limes instead; they soon became known as the Florida Key Lime, a "beloved regional crop". But when the 1926 Miami hurricane ripped them up, they were replanted with the hardier, thornless Persian limes.Stella Parks. ''BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts'', 2017, , p. 171-173 Since the
North American Free Trade Agreement The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA; es, Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, TLCAN; french: Accord de libre-échange nord-américain, ALÉNA) was an agreement signed by Canada Canada is a country in the north ...
came into effect, most Key limes on the United States market have been grown in Mexico,
Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or ...

Central America
and
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
. They are also grown in
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
, Florida, and California. The Key lime has given rise to several other lime varieties. The best known, the
triploid Polyploidy is a condition in which the biological cell, cells of an organism have more than two paired (Homologous chromosome, homologous) sets of chromosomes. Most species whose cells have Cell nucleus, nuclei (eukaryotes) are diploid, meaning ...
progeny of a Key lime-lemon cross, is the
Persian lime Persian lime (''Citrus × latifolia''), also known by other common names such as seedless lime, Bearss lime and Tahiti lime, is a citrus fruit species of hybrid (biology), hybrid origin, known only in Cultivation of the land, cultivation. The Per ...
(''Citrus × latifolia''), the most widely produced lime, globally. Others are, like their parent, classed within ''C. aurantiifolia''.
Backcross Backcrossing is a crossing of a Hybrid (biology), hybrid with one of its parents or an individual genetically similar to its parent, in order to achieve offspring with a genetic identity which is closer to that of the parent. It is used in horticult ...

Backcross
ing with
citron The citron (''Citrus medica'') is a large fragrant citrus fruit with a thick Peel (fruit), rind. It is one of the original citrus fruits from which all other citrus types developed through natural hybrid speciation or artificial Hybrid (biolog ...

citron
has produced a distinct group of triploid limes that are also of commercial value to a limited degree, the seedy Tanepeo, Coppenrath, Ambilobe and Mohtasseb lime varieties as well as the Madagascar lemon. Hybridization with a
mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
-
pomelo The pomelo (), pummelo (), or in scientific terms ''Citrus maxima'' or ''Citrus grandis'', is the largest citrus fruit from the family Rutaceae and the principal ancestor An ancestor, also known as a forefather, fore-elder or a forebear, ...

pomelo
cross similar to the oranges has produced the Kirk lime. The New Caledonia and Kaghzi limes appear to have resulted from an F2 Key lime self-pollination, while a spontaneous genomic duplication gave us the
tetraploid Polyploidy is a condition in which the cells of an organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecul ...
Giant Key lime. The potential to produce a wider variety of lime hybrids from the Key lime due to its tendency to form
diploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell (biology), cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for Autosome, autosomal and Pseudoautosomal region, pseudoautosomal genes. Sets of chromosomes refer to the number of mate ...
gametes may reduce the disease risk presented by the limited diversity of the current commercial limes.


Agronomy


Cultivation and propagation

There are various approaches to the cultivation of Key limes. This variety of
citrus ''Citrus'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circums ...

citrus
can be propagated from seed and will grow true to the parent. The seeds must be kept moist until they can be planted, as they will not germinate if allowed to dry out. If the plants are propagated from seed, the seeds should be stored at least 5–6 months before planting.Duke J.A., duCellier J.L. (1993): ''CRC handbook of alternative cash crops'' (page 139-145) Alternatively, vegetative propagation from cuttings or by
air layering
air layering
may permit fruit production within one year, and from genetically more predictable lines of plants. Another method, digging around a mature tree to sever roots, will encourage new sprouts that can be transplanted to another location. Clones are often bud grafted into rough
lemon The lemon, ''Citrus limon'', is a species of small evergreen In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise ...

lemon
or
sour orange Bitter orange, Seville orange, sour orange, bigarade orange, or marmalade orange is the citrus ''Citrus'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or c ...
to obtain strong root stocks (see also
fruit tree propagation Fruit tree propagation is usually carried out vegetatively (non-sexually) by grafting or budding a desired variety onto a suitable rootstock A rootstock is part of a plant, often an underground part, from which new above-ground growth can be p ...
). It is often advisable to graft the plants onto rootstocks with low susceptibility to
gummosis Gummosis is the formation of patches of a Gum (botany), gummy substance on the surface of certain plants, particularly fruit trees. This occurs when sap oozes from wounds or cankers as a reaction to outside Stimulus (physiology), stimuli such as adv ...

gummosis
because seedlings generally are highly vulnerable to the disease. Useful rootstocks include wild grapefruit, cleopatra mandarin and tahiti limes. ''C. macrophylla'' is also sometimes used as a rootstock in Florida to add vigor. Climatic conditions and fruit maturation are crucial in cultivation of the lime tree. Under consistently warm conditions potted trees can be planted at any season, whereas in cooler temperate regions it is best to wait for the late winter or early spring. The Key lime tree does best in sunny sites, well-drained soils, good air circulation, and protection from cold wind. Because its root system is shallow, the Key lime is planted in trenches or into prepared and broken rocky soil to give the roots a better anchorage and improve the trees' wind resistance. Pruning and topping should be planned to maximise the circulation of air and provide plenty of sunlight. This keeps the crown healthily dry, improves accessibility for harvesting, and discourages the organisms that cause gummosis.


Harvesting

The method of cultivation greatly affects the size and quality of the harvest. Trees cultivated from seedlings take 4–8 years before producing a harvest. They attain their maximal yield at about 10 years of age. Trees produced from cuttings and air layering bear fruit much sooner, sometimes producing fruit (though not a serious harvest) a year after planting. It takes approximately 9 months from the blossom to the fruit. When the fruit have grown to harvesting size and begin to turn yellow they are picked and not clipped. To achieve produce of the highest market value, it is important not to pick the fruit too early in the morning; the turgor is high then, and handling turgid fruit releases the peel oils and may cause spoilage.


Postharvest process

Shelf life Shelf life is the length of time that a commodity may be stored without becoming unfit for use, consumption, or sale. In other words, it might refer to whether a commodity should no longer be on a pantry shelf (unfit for use), or just no longer ...
of Key limes is an important consideration in marketing. The lime still ripens for a considerable time after harvesting, and it is usually stored between at a
relative humidity Humidity is the concentration of water vapour (99.9839 °C) , - , Boiling point , , - , specific gas constant , 461.5 J/( kg·K) , - , Heat of vaporization , 2.27 MJ/kg , - , Heat capacity , 1.864 kJ/(kg·K) Water vap ...

relative humidity
of 75–85%. Special procedures are employed to control the shelf life; for example, applications of growth regulators, fruit wax,
fungicide Fungicides are biocidal chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by hav ...
s, precise cooling, calcium compounds,
silver nitrate Silver nitrate is an inorganic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, be ...

silver nitrate
, and special packing material. The preferred storage conditions are temperatures of and a humidity over 85%, but even in ideal conditions post-harvesting losses are high. In India most Key lime producers are small-scale farmers without access to such post-harvesting facilities, but makeshift expedients can be of value. One successful procedure is a coating of
coconut oil Coconut oil (or coconut butter) is an edible oil derived from the wick, meat, and milk of the coconut palm The coconut tree (''Cocos nucifera'') is a member of the palm tree The Arecaceae is a family (biology), family of Perennial pla ...

coconut oil
that improves shelf life, thereby achieving a constant market supply of Key limes.Bisen A., Pandey S.K., Patel N.: ''Effect of skin coatings on prolonging shelf life of kagzi lime fruits (Citrus aurantiifolia Swingle).'' Journal of Food Science and Technology (2012) 49(6).753-759. (page 139–145) Key limes are made into black lime by boiling them in
brine Brine is a high-concentration solution of salt (NaCl) in water (H2O). In different contexts, ''brine'' may refer to salt solutions ranging from about 3.5% (a typical concentration of seawater, on the lower end of solutions used for brining food ...

brine
and drying them. Black lime is a condiment commonly used in the Middle East.


Yield

The yield varies depending on the age of the trees. Five- to seven-year-old orchards may yield about 6 t/ha (2.7 tons/acre), with harvests increasing progressively until they stabilise at about 12–18 t/ha (5.4–8 tons/acre). Seedling trees take longer to attain their maximal harvest, but eventually out-yield grafted trees.


Key Lime Festival

The annual Key Lime Festival in
Key West, Florida Key West ( es, Cayo Hueso) is an island in the Straits of Florida 250px, The Straits of Florida The Straits of Florida, Florida Straits, or Florida Strait ( es, Estrecho de Florida) is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, ty ...
, has been held every year since 2002 over the July 4 weekend and is a celebration of Key limes in food, drinks, and culture. At the end of each festival, attendees drink a bottle of tequila and use Key limes as chasers.


References


External links

* *
Citrus aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle
United States Forest Service The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The Forest Service manages of land. Major divisions of the agency in ...
description
Key Lime Tree History

Characterization of limes (Citrus aurantifolia) grown in Bhutan and Indonesia using high-throughput sequencing
{{Authority control Limes (fruit) Citrus hybrids Citrus
Fruit trees Fruit trees are trees which bear fruit that is consumed or used by humans and some animals. All trees that are flowering plants produce fruit, which are the ripened ovary (plants), ovaries of flowers containing one or more seeds. In horticulture, h ...