Thursday, 21 April 2016

Australian Finger Lime

An exciting new plant i acquired in the last year was the Australian Finger Lime. I actually brought two i was so enthused by it. At first look it seems an unappealing thorny & spindly shrub but when it fruits this makes it all worthwhile. Slender, gnarly and filled with tiny, tangy jewels that burst in the mouth, finger limes are as intriguing as they are delicious. Finger Limes are an understory shrub native to the lowland subtropical rainforests of Southern Queensland & New South Wales. They are Microcitrus which are quite different to regular citrus. They have very small leaves & branches loaded with thorns and form dense clouds of foliage.

The finger lime has been recently popularized as gourmet "bush tucker".  Their popularity is mainly due to globular juice vesicles that 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 have a similar 
lovely sweet and sour perfume to that of a lime. Marmalade & Pickles are also made from finger lime. The finger lime peel can be dried and used as a flavouring spice. The fruits are cylindrical in shape, up to 12cm long and only about 2-3cm in diameter. 

Growers have developed 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 Citrus species. 

Mine are yet to flower or fruit unfortunately as they're currently too young. Hopefully this year they will start to fruit. In NSW flowering starts in June & extends through to early October, depending on the cultivar. In warm coastal regions trees may also flower sporadically throughout spring and summer. Depending on climate, fruit mature between December and May, with the main harvest period occurring between March and May.


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