Seedling about 50cms tall taken March 2001, when it was about 6 years old. It first fruited late in 1999 when 4 years old. Some references say fingerlime seedlings can take up to seventeen years to flower and fruit so I was very pleased this plant didn't wait so long!
The fingerlime is found wild as an under-storey shrub in the Australian rainforests of Queensland and northern New South Wales. It grows naturally in heavy shade in areas of high rainfall, but also appears at the edge of cleared forest where there is more sunlight.
The fruit is cylindrical, up to 10cms long and can be green, yellow, red, purple or black when ripe. The pulp is usually greenish yellow. Red fleshed types also exist and are said to reproduce this trait from seed. These are botanically designated as 'Citrus australasica - sanguinea'.
Unlike other citrus the fingerlime flesh consists of tiny, slightly sticky globules, which often ooze out of fruit when they are cut or become overripe. The individual globules pop open in the mouth to give a burst of acidity. I find it difficult to detect any particularly appealing flavour beyond this acidity, but the fruit are increasingly sought by gourmet restauranteurs.
A cluster of developing fingerlimes Click photo for higher definition image
page updated 16th March 2007
This is a flowering twig from my grafted Microcitrus australasica sanguinea - the red-fleshed fingerlime, obtained from the Eisenhut nursery in Switzerland. Notice that these flowers have 5 petals. The first mature fruit from this plant was in September 2003. The fruit is bottle-shaped 2.4x5.2cms, with only very pale pink flesh.
This was probably the total 2001 UK production of fingerlimes!
European specimens of Citrus australasica are very rare. The only publically accessible trees I have been able to locate are in the botanical gardens of Naples, Italy - Orto Botanico di Napoli , the Tintori 'Hesperidarium' near Florence, Italy, and, most recently, Pépinières Bachès nursery near Perpignan, France. The German nursery AgrumiVoss and the Swiss Eisenhut nursery also supply fruiting plants, but I have not seen their 'mother' trees.
If anyone knows of other fruiting fingerlime trees in Europe, please e-mail me!
these photos with thanks to Edoardo Pinto &
These pictures of the Naples tree were taken in late January 2003, and show ripe, dark-skinned fingerlime fruits of the sanguinea variety.
I visited Naples in November 2003 and found the tree in a poor state with much twig die-back. There was one spectacularly red fallen fruit, for some reason very different from the left picture.
Stamp is 24mm high.
Twig is about 5cms tall and the flower 8mm across. All the flowers on this plant have three petals.
The very first fingerlime I managed to produce in 1999
The same plant in spring 2007, about 4ft tall (1m30)
A better plant selection fruited for the first time
in October 2004 These dark-brown fruits are up
to 10cms long, 2cms diameter. The Internal flesh is pale yellow.
These are fruits from the tree at Pepinieres Baches nursery. These are an unusual tear-drop shape - see the discussion at European Fingerlimes
Stamp is 24mm high.