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Citrus hystrix - DC.

Common Name Kaffir Lime
Family Rutaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards None Known
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation[266]
Range E. Asia - Southern China, Indian Subcontinent, Malaysia and Indo-China.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Citrus hystrix Kaffir Lime

Citrus hystrix Kaffir Lime


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Citrus hystrix is an evergreen Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. boholensis (Wester) Yu.Tanaka. C. celebica Koord. C. combara Raf. C. echinata St.-Lag. [Illegitimate]. C. hyalopulpa Yu.Tanak0a. C. kerrii (Swingle) Yu.Tanaka. C. latipes Hook.f. & Thomson ex Hook.f. C. macroptera Montrouz. C. micrantha Wester. C. papeda Miq. C. papuana F.M.Bailey. C. southwickii Wester. C. torosa Blanco. C. tuberoides J.W.Benn. C. ventricosa Michel. C. vitiensis Yu.Tanaka. C. westeri Yu.Tanaka. Fortunella sagittifolia F.M.Feng & P.I.Mao. Papeda rumphii Hassk.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit  Leaves  Oil
Edible Uses: Condiment  Drink  Oil  Tea

Kaffir lime leaves are used as a flavouring and in making teas [296, 377 ]. The leaves have a lime flavour and can be cut finely and then added in salads or cooked foods [296 ]. They add a pleasant citrus flavour to soups and curries [301 ]?used in Southeast Asian food dishes, including soups, curries, rice, stir-fry, fish cakes, salads and marinades. Leaves may be harvested from homegrown plants or purchased fresh or dried at Asian or speciality groceries. The fruit is edible raw. The lemon-scented fruit [46 ] is rough-skinned with a bitter flavour and only produces a small amount of juice, though this is very powerful and can be added to other fruit juices to make them taste more 'alive '[296 ]. The fruit is also used in manufacturing preserves [317 ]. The fruit is 5 - 7cm in diameter [200 ]. The rind of the fruit is used as a flavouring in cooked foods [296 ]. It can be candied or dried and used in curry pastes [301 ]. The four to five-petalled white flowers are fragrant.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidermatosic  Aromatherapy  Vitamin C

The fruit is used medicinally [317 ]. The primary use seems to be an insecticide for washing the head and treating the feet to kill land leeches [310 ]. Citrus species contain a wide range of active ingredients, and research is still underway in finding uses for them. They are rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, acids and volatile oils. They also contain coumarins such as bergapten which sensitizes the skin to sunlight. Bergapten is sometimes added to tanning preparations since it promotes pigmentation in the skin, though it can cause dermatitis or allergic responses in some people [238 ]. Some of the plants more recent applications are as sources of anti-oxidants and chemical exfoliants in specialized cosmetics [238 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Hair  Insecticide  Oil  Soap making

Extracts from the skin and juice are used as an insecticide for washing the head and treating the feet to kill land leeches [306 ]. The fruits are rich in saponins and lather freely in water. They are utilized in hair shampoos and also for washing clothes [317, 459 ]. Lustral water mixed with slices of the fruit is used in religious ceremonies in Cambodia. The fragrant leaves also contain saponins and are used as a hair wash [459 ]. Two different essential oils are obtained, one from the leaves and the other from the fruit's peel [317 ]. Kaffir lime oil is used in the pharmaceutical, agronomic, food, sanitary, cosmetic, and perfume industries. It is also used extensively in aromatherapy and as an essential ingredient of various cosmetic and beauty products. Kaffir lime is grown as an ornamental in Florida and California. Fragrant flowers.

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Kaffir lime is a thorny, multi-stemmed, evergreen shrub or small tree. Three main climates are suitable for commercial citrus production - tropical climates, subtropical with winter rain in the Mediterranean and semitropical with summer rainfall in Florida and southern Brazil [200 ]. Kaffir lime grows well in sandy, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Deep, fertile soils generally produce the best fruit crops. Best overall performance occurs in full sun in locations sheltered from strong winds [2-2]. The optimal temperatures for citrus cultivation range between 25 - 30°c, with the coldest month having an average minimum of at least 15°c [200 ]. Growth generally ceases below 13°c and above 38°c[200 ]. If there are dry periods of more than three months, then irrigation will be necessary [200 ]. Kaffir lime can tolerate occasional, short-lived frosts [377 ]. An easily grown plant [306 ] preferring deep, well-drained but moisture-retentive loamy soil in full sun [200 ]. Kaffir lime prefers a pH in the range of 5 - 6 [200 ]. Self Pollinating. Suitable for pots. Can be pruned to 2m.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

After thoroughly rinsing it, the seed is best sown in containers as soon as ripe [164, 200 ]. Sow stored seed in containers as quickly as possible]. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 3 weeks at 13°c. Seedlings are liable to damp off, so they must be watered with care and kept well ventilated. The seed is usually polyembryonic; two or more seedlings arise from each seed. They are genetically identical to the parent but do not usually carry any virus present in the parent plant[200 ]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them until they are 10cm or taller before planting them into their permanent positions. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. This species grows easily from cuttings[200 ]. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Bai magrood, Caffre lime, Fatt-fung-kam, Ichang lime, Jeruk purut, Jeruk sambal, Kabuyau, Kahpiri dehi, Karokaro, Kolobot, Khatta nabbu, Krauch soeuch, Kro'ch sae'ch, Kudala-dehi, Kulubot, La chanh, Leech lime, Lemon titi'u, Limau purut, Mahkroot, Ma kruut, Makrut, Mauritius papeda, Odu dehi, Papeda, Shauk-cho, Shauk-nu, Shauk-waing, Shouk-pote, Soco ni vavalagi, Soh-kyniet, Som makrut, Swangi, Te remem, Voangabe [1-4].

Africa, Asia, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Cuba, East Africa, East Timor, Fiji, France, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mediterranean, Morocco, Myanmar, North Africa, Northeastern India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, South America, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam [1-4].

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Not Listed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
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Citrus ichangensisIchang PapedaShrub4.5 7-10  LMHNM22 
Citrus latifoliaCitrus Tahitian LimeTree5.0 9-11 MLMHSM422
Citrus limonLemonShrub3.0 8-11 MMHNM455
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Citrus sinensisSweet OrangeTree9.0 9-11  MHNM433
Citrus x meyeriLemonShrub3.0 8-11 MMHNM355
Citrus x paradisiGrapefruit, Pomelo, PamplemousseTree7.0 9-11 MLMHNS411

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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