Growing Australian Limes in Florida
There are several species of Australian Limes of which the following have been observed to grow quite well in Florida.
Citrus australasica is the Australian finger lime of commerce. Finger limes are compact thorny understory shrubs or small trees. This species is characterized by its round to teardrop-shaped juice vesicles that burst into individual juice sacs when the fruit is cut. The finger-shaped fruit is sold for its juice vesicles, which can be separated into individual "pearls" resembling caviar, giving it the nickname citrus caviar.
Citrus australis is the Australian round lime. It makes a medium to large narrow tree and produces a small round fruit, resembling the limes of commerce.
Citrus inodora is the Russel River lime or Large-leaf Australian wild lime. It has the largest leaves amongst the three species and produces a small yellow colored fruit.
Why are Australian Limes important?
- Most Australian lime species are Huanglongbing (HLB) tolerant.
- This HLB tolerance can be incorporated into conventional citrus cultivars to create new HLB tolerant citrus hybrids.
- Finger limes contain round to teardrop-shaped juice vesicles that burst into individual juice sacs when the fruit is cut.
- The juice vesicles are known as “citrus caviar” which once processed and packaged, can increase tremendously in economic value.
- Locally grown finger lime can be a useful addition to the “Fresh from Florida” portfolio and could bolster local food production systems, leading to increased sales to restaurants, bars (Margarita and Mojito cocktails!), and grocery stores.
Australian lime improvement work at UF
- Over a thousand hybrids have been produced to incorporate Australian lime genetics into conventional citrus.
- Many Australian lime F1 hybrids are in advanced stages of evaluation
- Two new Finger lime hybrids have been recently released.
COMPARING AND CONTRASTING BETWEEN THE TWO RELEASES
- Both cultivars produce annual crops of well-colored fruit that do not require prolonged cold induction to express anthocyanin both internally and externally under Central Florida conditions.
- Internal color is maintained even under South Florida conditions, and trees have been evaluated as far south as Homestead, FL. Trees have not been evaluated in locations north of Lake Alfred, FL and cold tolerance is unknown at this time.
- Canopy in both cultivars is less compact compared to other currently available cultivars. This will allow growers to harvest fruit with less difficulty and there will be less thorn induced fruit damage.
- ‘UF SunLime’ (PPAF) fruits are 2.7 to 3.1 inches in length while ‘UF RedLime’ (PPAF) fruits range from 4.2 to 4.8 inches in length.
- ‘UF SunLime’ (PPAF) fruits weigh 30.4 grams on average while the ‘UF RedLime’ (PPAF) fruits weigh 28.8 grams on average.
- ‘UF SunLime’ (PPAF) fruits average 0-5 seeds while the ‘UF RedLime’ fruits average 4-14 seeds.