Citrus australasica (RUTACEAE) Finger Lime

Plants to Plant

Hardy, spiny, shrub or small tree to 10 m but is usually smaller, especially when it has access to sunlight. Closely related to the domestic citrus. Common in rainforests of north-eastern New South Wales and South-East Queensland. Small leaves are oval shaped and up to 40 mm long. Flowers are 10 – 14 mm in diameter, white or pale pink in late summer and autumn, or winter (July) if delayed by drought and brought on by early winter rains. The fruit is long and narrow, may be green, yellow, black, purple or red. The pulp is green, yellow or pink. The fruits are edible and have a strong citrus flavour which is widely sought by “bush tucker” enthusiasts. It is very sour and is probably best used for cooking, jams, garnishes, sauces and drinks. Hardy in tropical to temperate climates in well-drained conditions.

Close-up of Leaf

The leaves of the Finger Lime are broader (wider) and not as long as the leaves of the Australian Lime Citrus australis. They are more lobed, almost all the way along the leaf and the margins appear to be finely crenate (shallow, rounded teeth). Plants are usually slow growing. Seedlings may take from 5 to 15 years to reach maturity (grafted plants are preferred in gardens). Germination can be erratic. Citrus is the Latin name for the citron (a type of lemon). Australasica means Australian.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Close-up of Flower

The flowers have pink buds and then open to a sweetly fragrant flower with white petals and yellow stamens.

 Photo: Robert Whyte

Flower Buds in Foliage

This photo shows the flower buds.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Young Fruit Developing

This photo shows a fruit on the way, in this case it is about 6 cm long and quite dark and smooth.
Photo: Robert Whyte