Food Plants International - Plant Fact Sheets Citrus aurantifolia - Key Lime
Edible portion: Fruit, Herb, Spice, Leaves - flavouring
A small much branched evergreen tree. It grows up to 5-6 m tall with short sharp spines. It spreads to 3 m across. The leaves are small and dark green. There are narrow wings on the leaf stalk. The leaf blade is about 5 cm long by 3 cm wide and oval. They have a sweet smell when crushed. There is a thorn at the base of each leaf. (Thorn free kinds are known). The flowers are yellowish white. They are 2.5 cm across and have 5 petals. The flowers are produced in the leaf axils or at the ends of branches. The fruit is small, round 3-4 cm across and become pale orange to yellow when ripe. They are thin skinned. The flesh of the fruit is green. West Indian limes with larger, better fruit also occur. There are several named cultivated varieties.
A tropical plant. They need a warm climate and are most common in coastal regions in the lowland tropics. They grow from sea level to 2200 m altitude in Papua New Guinea. They suit humid areas and can survive in poor soils. Light to medium well drained soils are best. It is drought and frost tender. In Hobart Botanical gardens. It grows in Nepal to about 1800 m altitude. It can grow in alkaline soil. It suits hardiness zones 11-12.