Saturday Spotlight – Finger Limes

There is a great deal I don’t know about the plant I am spotlighting this week but as I have just had my first harvest I am keen to share it with the world.

These are Finger Limes:

Finger Limes

Finger Limes (Citrus australasica) are, as their botanical name suggests, a native Australian citrus.  They grow on thorny bushes which can grow up to 10 metres high according to Daley’s informative website.  Daley’s are a fruit tree supplier in New South Wales but I acquired my plant from my parents who it bought it from Vaughans Australian Plants who are outside Geelong.  Unfortunately the label just calls the plant ‘finger lime’ so I’m not sure which variety I have.  What I do know is that, currently mine is happy in a 30cm pot and is only about 1 metre high (and half of that height is one branch which only recently shot up).  I think the plant is probably about 4 years old.  My parents had it for two years during which it looked very unhappy in their cooler climate in the Macedon Ranges (which does get frost).  I acquired it two years ago, potted it up from a 15cm to a 30cm pot at that point and it has lived in that pot ever since.  I feed it 6 monthly with Osmocote for citrus and that is about it, although I do give it the occasional feed of fish emulsion.  My plant started flowering over summer and subsequently set its first fruit.  I picked 4 today and it has another 8 left on it.

The plants are incredibly prickly with small skinny foliage.  The flowers on my plant are pink and the fruit started out green and then changed to a darker browny colour as they ripened.

Finger Lime

The ripe fruit are about as thick as my finger but only about 3/4 of its length.  Inside each fruit there are tiny pale pink balls:

Inside a finger lime

which taste like a cross between lemon/lime and grapefruit to my palate.  They are sour but good and I think they would give salad dressing an amazing taste and texture.  The little balls kind of burst when you eat them.  I am going to have a lot of fun experimenting with them I have to say.

Finger lime

Have you eaten finger limes?  If so what did you do with them?

Saturday Spotlight is a series of posts highlighting particular varieties of edible plants.  If you have a favourite, or even a less than successful variety of a plant and would like to include it in the series then please leave a comment with a link below.    I have created a page (above, just below the header) with an Index of all the Spotlights to date.   I will add links to any new posts below and in next weeks post as well as ensuring they appear in the Index.  

New Spotlights last week were:

Summer Perfection Spinach – From Seed to Table

Red Ursa Kale – Our Happy Acres

and from this week:

 Pea Eggplant – Kebun Malay-Kadazan Girls

Cream Garlic – My Little Garden Project


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45 Responses to Saturday Spotlight – Finger Limes

  1. Tracy says:

    I’m always a little envious of anyone actually harvesting finger limes. I have had my plant for a while now and have had flowers and teeny, tiny fruit which fall off but I live in hope. Of course the frosts we get aren’t the best thing for it but it is in a part of the garden that has is a microclimate that is almost ideal. My tree came from Daley’s and is a red variety.

    I have eaten finger limes and they are delicious. My favourite way to serve them is on top of a creamy cheesecake. The tartness cuts through the richness really well and looks fantastic.

    • Liz says:

      That sounds just divine. Hope yours fruits soon. I was sure mine would fall off, as this was the first year my plant flowered, but they never did.

  2. wow you grew these in Melbourne *hat’s off!* It can be used over fish in drinks in dressings and salads as a garnish on citrus desserts, fruit salad… I found these in coffs harbor on our summer holiday and blogged about them as well as they are such an interesting fruit!

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Nat, I love the idea of having them over fish – sounds delicious. I will definitely check out your post on them.

  3. Mark Willis says:

    The flesh looks very similar to that of a Pomelo. I’ve never eaten or even seen a Finger Lime, so I’m keen to hear what you do with them.

  4. Like Mark I haven’t even heard onf a finger lime – look forward to seeing what you do with them!

  5. flowerlady says:

    They look a lovely colour,I too have never heard of them but on top of cheesecake sounds really tastey

  6. Jo says:

    I’ve never heard of finger limes. What an unusual fruit.

  7. Veggiegobbler says:

    Someone just recently recommended finger limes to me and I was going to buy some at the market to try. I had no idea they were Australian. My friend raved about them. Said they were great to add to salads.

    • Liz says:

      Salads – nice idea. I wonder if they would work well on avocado – might try tomorrow if the avos I have in the fruit bowl have finally softened.

  8. Louise says:

    Waw! Wonderful! Yours are pink inside! Finger limes as you know come in all sorts of colours. Mine re a deep greenish balck on the outside with dark green bubbles. Mine are still a little small to harvest I think? How long were yours when you harvested?

    I have been feeding mine with sheep manure and wallaby manure – the wallaby rather too available!

    • Liz says:

      They weren’t as long as I thought they would be, about 5cm ish. I didn’t know they were ready but I nudged a couple and they fell off so I presumed they were ripe.

  9. Louise says:

    BTW, on top of a fresh Sydney Rock oyster I think is the BEST way to have them.

  10. Daphne says:

    I’ve never heard of finger limes before. I wonder if they are available anywhere here in the US.

  11. Dave says:

    I was looking at one of these the other day in a catalog (Logee’s) and wondered what the fruit was like. I’ve never tried one myself, though it sounds pretty interesting.

  12. Michelle says:

    Finger limes have hit the culinary scene here in the past couple of years, at least in California, and I even saw a plant at the nursery last year. I had no idea that it came in different colors or named varieties, the only ones that I’ve heard of are green with green insides. I almost bought that plant but I do get some frost here and I would have had to grow it in a pot and it sounded like it wants to be a large plant and it was an expensive specimen so I didn’t take the chance. And I really can’t remember if I’ve tasted it or not, I think yes, a couple years back…

    • Liz says:

      I think it would survive some frost but not necessarily flourish. I’ll be interested to see if the yields increase each year.

  13. Well, Liz, you’ve outdone yourself with these finger limes! Thanks for the very fun introduction, will be on the look-out for them from now on!

  14. Sarah says:

    I’m another one who has never heard of finger limes before – they look really interesting though.

  15. Evelyne says:

    I have a very small plant in a tube stock – growing well. I can’t wait to get fruit and I’ll definitely be putting it on my oysters!! Yummy!!

  16. Alyse Mae says:

    Wow, I have seen these around and always thought they look so cool. Like limey flavoured Caviar, brilliant.

    I have put a post up about ‘Cream’ garlic.

  17. Finger lime season is just finishing here so I have been playing with them a bit. I recently blogged about my Finger Lime Ice Cream Cup Cakes. They lend a really subtle flavour to the ice cream then you get a pop of lime. Yum! They freeze really well so I have some stashed for more experimentation. As they seem to go well with rich flavours I am going to try finger lime curd next.

  18. JohnMich says:

    Chinese friends of ours had a small bush with ripe fruit. They gave us some to try. The fruit had a green skin when ripe and the fruit was yellowy green unlike yours. The taste was, from memory, more lemon/limey, we don’t remember any grapefruit taste. They were very interesting and you have reminded us of them and we are now really interested because you are having sucess in a pot which would suit us. Another interesting post, thank you Liz.

    • Liz says:

      Thanks John, I wonder how much the varieties vary in taste. I really enjoyed the flavour of mine but have no idea if there is much difference between it and other finger limes.

  19. I hope I have more success than your parents in the Macedon ranges, I have a lovely healthy specimen bought from Gisborne nursery at their closing down sale about 3 months ago. I knew it was a gamble but I love these. I’ve tasted these in Darwin – delicious. I put it on the floor near the backseat when we were travelling home and when I turned the corner it landed on the little Bowerbird producing sharp screams. Those thorns are super nasty.

    • Liz says:

      Ouch! Poor little Bowerbird. At mum and dad’s place it just didn’t grow, it didn’t die but it didn’t grow either. I suspect they didn’t really give it much care, or protection though so if you do both hopefully yours will do well.

  20. Sammy Ringer says:

    One of the ‘Top Ten’ of our native foods – in fact it’s now ‘Citrus australasica’. You’ll find info here –
    and here –
    and, of course, here
    happy liming!

  21. I’ve been looking forward to you posting about your harvest of these. They look amazing inside, I imagine they give a citrus-pop in your mouth when you eat them. It’s great that they are doing so well in such a small pot. I’ve just added a kafir lime and dwarf blood orange in pots to my garden, perhaps I should try to find one of these too.

    • Liz says:

      Definitely a citrus pop – really good fun. As for the pot I think I will pot it up a size in Spring but I’m not looking forward to it – the prickles are pretty fierce.

  22. Mac says:

    Very interesting, thanks for sharing, Never seen one before,love to try it,but my citrus growing record is pathetic, they all die within 2-3 yrs.

  23. Very interesting. I’ve never even heard of finger limes before today.

  24. Nick says:

    These are remarkable. I can imagine a lovely gin + tonic with these that would be the cat’s meow of refreshing. 🙂

  25. Francis says:

    Hi Liz
    Add a little of the finger lime pulpy granules to your home-made lemon curd for that ‘extra’ something !

  26. Karen says:

    Melbourne: 2 varieties in my garden, the green lime- flavoured one fruits, the other (meant to be orange) struggling but winning the battle.

    • Liz says:

      Fab Karen – My plant is struggling a bit after a prolonged period of neglect – I’m hoping some TLC will result in a good crop this year.

  27. Boon says:

    Hi Liz

    Where we can buy a finger lime tree in Melbourne?


  28. Carolyn spurrier says:

    I bought my finger lime at the emerald market , I was very pleased to get about 10fruits of it the first year but some where a little dry! I am growing it in a 30cm pot, does anybody know what I can do to improve my harvest!

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