Tet, on February 16, will be the Vietnamese New Year’s Day for the Year of the Dog! Any year associated with the dog must be pretty excellent. Anyway, potted and fruited kumquat trees are very traditional decorations for Tet. Although less popular than orange and lemon trees, they are the most compact of the citrus trees, so are therefore the most adaptable to compact home gardens.
They grow slowly and may never reach first floor eaves. The evergreen leaves are a bit thicker, smaller and darker green than those of Mandarin orange. Stems are mostly thornless. The compact growth is quite symmetrical, so might only occasionally need to be trimmed for a stray stem here and there. Clusters of small white flowers bloom about the time the last of the fruit gets harvested.
Kumquat has the distinction of being the ‘other’ citrus. Although the genus is alternatively known as Citrus, experts know it as Fortunella. Those with round fruit are Fortunella japonica. Those with oval fruit are Fortunella marginata. The abundant fruits are not much bigger than big grapes, and are eaten whole, with the seeds spit out. The tart pulp with the sweet skin is a tangy combination.