The Australian finger lime plant (
Citrus australasica, sometimes
called caviar lime) is a thorny understorey shrub or small tree of
lowland subtropical rainforest and rainforest in the coastal border
Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. It has edible
fruits which are under development as a potential new commercial
According to the Swingle system it is not part of the genus citrus,
but in a related genus Microcitrus.
2 Cultivation and uses
2.2 Rising demand
5 External links
The plant is 2–7 metres in height. Leaves are small, 1–6 cm
long and 3–25 mm wide, glabrous, with a notched tip and crenate
towards the apex.
Flowers are white with petals 6–9 mm long.
The fruit is cylindrical, 4–8 cm long, sometimes slightly
curved, coming in different colours, including pink and green.
Cultivation and uses
Early settlers consumed the fruit and retained the trees when
clearing for agriculture. Colonial botanists suggested that they
should be cultivated.
The finger lime has been recently popularised as a gourmet bushfood.
The globular juice vesicles have been likened to a "lime caviar",
which can be used as a garnish or added to various recipes. The fresh
vesicles have the effect of a burst of effervescent tangy flavour as
they are chewed. The fruit juice is acidic and similar to that of a
Marmalade and pickles are also made from finger lime. The finger
lime peel can be dried and used as a flavouring spice.
Commercial use of finger lime fruit started in the mid-1990s in
boutique marmalades made from wild harvested fruit. By 2000 the finger
lime was being sold in restaurants, including the export of fresh
Brown skin type finger lime
The finger lime has been recently grown on a commercial basis in
Australia in response to high demand for the fruit. There is an
increasing range of genetic selections which are budded onto citrus
rootstock. With the sudden high market demand for the fruit the
primary source of genetic material for propagation has been selections
from wild stock.
In cultivation, the finger lime plant is grown in much the same way as
other citrus species. It may be subject to some pests and diseases
requiring pest control in cropping situations. This includes scale,
caterpillars, gall-wasp, and limb dieback. Research into fruit fly by
Dr Andrew Jessop has concluded that finger limes are a non-host plant
to fruit flies and as such are not a quarantine risk to importing
Red finger lime.
Research conducted in the 1970s indicated that a wild selection of C.
australasica was highly resistant to
Phytophthora citrophthora root
disease, which has resulted in a cross-breeding program with finger
lime to develop disease-resistant citrus rootstock.
CSIRO has also developed several
Citrus hybrids by crossing the
finger lime with standard
Citrus species. These hybrids have created
many cultivars which generate finger limes in many different colors
ranging from light pink to deep blue-green. Finger lime is thought to
have the widest range of color variation within any
The color of the pulp (juice vesicles) comes in shades of green or
pink including pale lime-green, pale pink, coral, and scarlet.
^ a b "
Citrus australasica F.Muell. — The
^ a b c d
Citrus pages, Native Australian Citrus,
^ Mueller, Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von. 1858. Fragmenta Phytographiæ
Australiæ 1: 26.
^ a b c Low, Tim, Wild Food Plants of Australia,
ISBN 0207143838[page needed]
^ Karp, David (23 December 2009). "Finger lime: the caviar of citrus"
– via LA Times.
^ Jorma Koskinen and Sylvain Jousse. "
Citrus Pages / Native Australian
Media related to
Citrus australasica at Wikimedia Commons
Citrus australasica". Australian
Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS
database. Centre for
Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian
Government. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
Citrus australasica F.Muell". Atlas of Living Australia.
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