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Mexican Lime Citrus x aurantiifolia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
SI-trus aw-ran-tee-ah-FOL-lee-uh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Key lime is a vigorous large shrub or small tree in the Rutaceae family that is best known for its green to yellow (when ripe) fruit that is very juicy and aromatic. It is native to the tropical regions of southeastern Asia, such as Malaysia and Indonesia but it has been carried and cultivated throughout the tropical regions of the world.  It was cultivated commercially in the Florida Keys in the 19th century, hence its common name that is still used today although there is little key lime production remaining in Florida.  Key lime has glossy elliptical to oblong evergreen leaves, similar to the leaves of the orange tree.  Therefore, its name comes from the Latin noun aurantium, meaning "of orange" and folia which means "leaves."

Key lime should be planted in the warmest possible location in your landscape, protected from cold winds and in full sun, as it does not tolerate shade.  It will not survive outdoors in the winter in colder climates and will struggle to produce fruit.  The plant grows best in light to medium textured soils that are aerated and have good drainage. The plant will not do well in heavy clay soil or soils that drain poorly.  The plant does not tolerate standing water or flooding. The plant prefers a pH range of 5 to 8 and is sensitive to high salinity. It is very drought tolerant once established.  Do not overwater.  Key lime should be fertilized sparingly. Pruning is only required to shape it, remove dead wood, limit plant size, or thin fruit. It can be grown as an espalier or as a hedge.  There are several different methods for propagation including seeds, root cutting, grafting or layering. 

All parts of the leaves and fruit are used for cosmetic, medicinal and edible uses.  The flowers are showy and fragrant.  The leaves are fragrant when crushed.

Plant outside in full sun for year-round enjoyment in tropical or subtropical climates or put in a planter for movement inside when the weather turns cold.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Key lime is highly susceptible to lime anthracnose (also called withertip and blossom blight).  Overwatering may cause fungal infections or root rot and the tree to decline in fruit bearing.  Key lime trees in the home landscape are susceptible to trunk injury caused by lawn mowers and weed whackers.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#thorns#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#houseplant#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#aromatic#interiorscape#fruit tree#showy fruits#glossy leaves#yellow fruits#green fruits#edible fruits#glossy fruits#evergreen tree#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical feel#container plant#wet soils intolerant#shade intolerant#edible#full sun
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#thorns#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#houseplant#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#aromatic#interiorscape#fruit tree#showy fruits#glossy leaves#yellow fruits#green fruits#edible fruits#glossy fruits#evergreen tree#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical feel#container plant#wet soils intolerant#shade intolerant#edible#full sun
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Citrus
    Species:
    aurantifolia
    Family:
    Rutaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In Persian culture it is dried and used in cooking. Leaves are used for headaches and colds. Oil from lime is used in soaps, gum, and sweets. Lime juice can be employed as an antioxidant when squeezed over fresh-cut fruit to prevent it from browning.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Layering
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern Asia
    Distribution:
    China, India, Egypt, Europe, the Americas including Mexico, Florida
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Heat, sun, humidity and drought tolerant once established.
    Edibility:
    Fruit juice is edible and used in drinks, syrups, jams and jellies, and baking. It is used as a sauce over meat and fish, and also in marinades. Also used in sherbets, sorbets, ice creams, and the famous key lime pie.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 13 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Houseplant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Irregular
    Multi-trunked
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Spines
    Thorns
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Spherical, green when unripe, yellow when ripe. Seedy, and has a thinner rind than persian lime.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Showy 5 petaled white flowers, purple-tinged when new and pale pink or white when mature, appear in springtime and late summer in racemes composed of 1-7 flowers per raceme. They may be fragrant or unscented. The flowers have both male and female parts.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenulate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Has glossy elliptical to oblong evergreen leaves, similar to the leaves of the orange tree.  The leaves have crenulated margins and are leathery in texture measuring between 1½ - 4 inches in length by ¾-2¾ inches wide. When young, its leaves are light purplish in color, maturing to dark green above and paler green beneath. The leaves are distinctively aromatic when crushed.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Has smooth, dark brown bark
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    New year's growth is green in color.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Lawn
    Patio
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Small Tree
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heavy Shade
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Spines/Thorns
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Vomiting, diarrhea, depression; potential dermatitis. The fruit is edible, skins and plant material can cause problems.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Essential oils and psoralens
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Sap/Juice