Citrus australasica or finger lime is a shrub whose fruit contains globular juice vesicles which makes it look like caviar.
Originally from Australia, it is a slow grower that tolerates slight frost but should be grown as an orangerie plant.
It was consumed occasionally as bushfood but is now developing as a crop.
Growth is slow and fruition takes up to 15 years after propagation from seed.
Citrus australasica is a large shrub or small tree that of 2-6 m height.
The leaves are 1-6 cm long and 3-25 mm wide. They are glabrous have aromatic glands.
The flowers are small, 6-9 mm long, usually white, sometimes pale pink. Flowering occurs late autumn to summer.
The fruit is an elongated cylinder of 4-8 cm long, with green, pink or yellow skin. It contains globular juice vesicles which are green, yellow or pink. Fruit ripens between may and june.
The fruit tastes tangy and lightly acidic, the vesicles pop in the mouth.
Australian finger lime, finger lime
Citrus: from the Latin citrus (citrus)
Australasica: from the Latin australis (southern)
Lowland subtropical rainforest
USDA zones 10-11
Wide range of soils in tropical region, deep loamy soils with good irrigation in temperate areas
Keep soil moist
Provide nutritious substrate, no additional fertilizer is required
Prune lightly after fruition in autumn
Seed, cuttings or grafting
After propagation from seed, it will take up to 15 years before fruit appears. Growth is equally slow from cuttings.
Grafting is usually done on Citrus trifoliata and Troyer citrange. The plant will mature faster than buy sowing or cuttings.
- use fresh seed
- sow in moist potting soil
- protect the seedlings from direct sunlight
- transplant when the seedlings are big enough to be handled
- use semi-hardwood cuttings
- use rooting hormone as success rate is low