The KEY LIME (
Citrus × aurantiifolia) is a citrus hybrid (C.
C. medica ) with a globose (spherical shaped) fruit,
2.5–5 cm in diameter (1–2 in), that is yellow when ripe but
usually picked green commercially.
It is smaller and seedier, with a higher acidity, a stronger aroma,
and a thinner rind , than that of the
Persian lime (
latifolia). It is valued for its unique flavor compared to other
limes. The name comes from its association with the
Florida Keys ,
where it is best known as the flavoring 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 color. Philippine varieties have various names,
including DAYAP and BILOLO.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Description
* 3 History
* 4 Agronomy
* 4.1 Cultivation and propagation
* 4.2 Harvesting
* 4.3 Postharvest process
* 4.4 Yield
* 5 References
* 6 External links
The English word "lime" was derived, via Spanish then French , from
the Arabic word ليمة līma (Persian : لیمو limu). "Key"
Florida Keys , where the fruit is naturalized. The Oxford
English Dictionary dates the first use of "key lime" to 1905, in an
Country Gentleman , which described the fruit as "the finest
on the market. It is aromatic, juicy, and highly superior to the
C. aurantiifolia is a shrubby tree, to 5 m (16 ft), 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, 2.5–9 cm (1–3 1⁄2 in) long, resembling
orange leaves (the scientific name aurantiifolia refers to this
resemblance to the leaves of the orange,
Citrus aurantium ). The
flowers are 2.5 cm (1 in) 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
When in contact with the skin, the
Key lime can sometimes cause
phytophotodermatitis , in which a chemical reaction makes the skin
extra sensitive to ultraviolet light.
This particular cultivar is a citrus hybrid , likely
Citrus medica (a papeda -citron cross).
C. aurantiifolia is native to
Southeast Asia . Its apparent path of
introduction was through the
Middle East to
North Africa , then to
Andalucia and via Spanish explorers to the
West Indies ,
Florida Keys . From the Caribbean, lime cultivation
spread to tropical and subtropical North America, including
Florida , and later
North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect, many
Key limes on the US market are grown in Mexico,
Central America and
South America . They are also grown in
Florida , and
CULTIVATION AND PROPAGATION
Flowers of the
Key lime plant
There are various approaches to the cultivation of Key limes. This
variety of 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. Alternatively, vegetative propagation from cuttings
or by air layering may permit fruit production within one year, and
from genetically more predictable lines of plants. Or 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 or sour orange to obtain strong root stocks (see also
fruit tree propagation ).
It is often advisable to graft the plants onto rootstocks with low
susceptibility to 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.
White key lime flower in different stages.
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.
3 key lime fruits with persistent styles .
Shelf life 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 12.5 and 15.5 °C (55–60 °F) at a
relative humidity of 75–85%.
Special procedures are employed to
control the shelf life – for example, applications of growth
regulators , fruit wax , fungicides , precise cooling, calcium
compounds, silver nitrate , and special packing material. The
preferred storage conditions are temperatures of 9–10 °C (48–50
°F) 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
that improves shelf life, thereby achieving a constant market supply
of Key limes.
Key limes are made into black lime by boiling them in brine and
Black lime is a condiment commonly used in the Middle
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.
* ^ "Dayap /
Citrus aurantifolia / LIME: Philippine Medicinal Herbs
/ Philippine Alternative Medicine". Stuartxchange.org. Retrieved
* ^ "key, n.2". OED Online. September 2013. Oxford University
Press. Accessed 24 October 2013.
* ^ P. Golob; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (1999). "Alphabetical List of Plant Families with Insecticidal
and Fungicidal Properties". The use of spices and medicinals as
bioactive protectants for grains. Food & Agriculture Org. pp. 13–.
ISBN 978-92-5-104294-6 . Retrieved 19 June 2011. Webarchive mirror
Citrus aurantiifolia Swingle. Hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved on
* ^ Weber, I. C.; Davis, C. P.; Greeson, D. M. (1999-03-01).
"Phytophotodermatitis: the other "lime" disease". The Journal of
Emergency Medicine. 17 (2): 235–237. ISSN 0736-4679 . PMID 10195477
. doi :10.1016/s0736-4679(98)00159-0 .
* ^ "
Phytophotodermatitis on Fingers of a Young Child Patient
Care Online". www.patientcareonline.com. 2003-04-01. Retrieved
* ^ "BMC Genetics - Full text - Next generation haplotyping to
decipher nuclear genomic interspecific admixture in
analysis of chromosome 2". doi.org.
* ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network, 2010, Citrus
aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle
* ^ Nicolosi, E.; Deng, Z.N.; Gentile, A.; La Malfa, S.;
Continella, G.; Tribulato, E. (2000). "
Citrus phylogeny and genetic
origin of important species as investigated by molecular markers".
Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 100 (8): 1155–1166. doi
* ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network, 2010, Citrus
aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle.
* ^ A B C D E Duke J.A., duCellier J.L. (1993): CRC handbook of
alternative cash crops (page 139-145)
* ^ "T or Shield Budding". tamu.edu.
* ^ Morton, Julia F. (1987). "Mexican Lime". Fruits of warm
climates. Purdue. pp. 168–172.
* ^ "Home Fruit Production". tamu.edu.
* ^ Bisen A., Pandey S.K., Patel N.: Effect of skin coatings on
prolonging shelf life of kagzi lime fruits (
Swingle). Journal of Food Science Technology (2012) 49(6).753-759.
Wikispecies has information related to: