80207Of all the weird citruses available, this is one of the strangest. Makrut lime, Citrus hystrix, is not grown for its ugly wrinkled fruit. The rind and the juice are only rarely used for culinary or medicinal purposes. The important part of makrut lime is the aromatic foliage, particularly the modified petiole ‘wings’ that look like leaves. Fresh or dried, they are popular in the cuisine of Southeast Asia.

Mature trees can eventually reach second story eaves, but are usually kept significantly lower. They are so shrubby that even large trees should have plenty of foliage within easy reach from the ground. Once a tree gets overgrown, it is not as easily pruned lower as some other citrus trees are. Pruning stimulates vigorously long and arching stems, rather than more desirable fluffy growth.

The winged petioles are almost as long and wide as the actual leaves are. In fact, they look just like the leaves, making them look like ‘double leaves’. Although the petiole wings separated from the petiole are supposedly the most aromatic parts, leaves are useful too. The hard fruits are about as big as golf balls, and are the same rich green as the foliage, until they ripen to a light yellow.

8 thoughts on “Makrut Lime

  1. I’ve never seen this one before, I just looked it up, I love the warty fruit. I used to grow the Buddha’s Hand Orange, Citrus medica var. Sarcodactylis in a conservatory, now that was weird.

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    1. That is actually a citron. It is related to the ‘Etrog’ citron, which is probably my most favorite citrus, even more than the grapefruits. It is not even edible. The fruit is used for the Sukkoth, a very important Jewish Holiday. It was such a challenge to obtain kosher stock trees, but so rewarding to grow something so sacred! The Buddha’s Hand citron was just a weird novelty that I really had no use for. It can be used for candied fruit in fruitcakes, just like other citrons.


  2. I grow this as a potted plant in the living room, where it is handy when we need a leaf or two for cooking. Thanks for teaching me the name “makrut lime.” Until now, I’d only known it by a name that is probably an ethnic slur (so I won’t repeat it here).

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