No matter how many types of limes are there, all of them belong to the citrus fruits family. Yes, it’s a hybrid fruit. Different lime types vary in terms of size, shape, and even taste.
And they often taste very similar to the lemon!
Because of its various usages in our daily life, it’s worth spending some time to learn more about it. If you are a home gardener, you will find this article very informative.
Different Lime Types
The evergreen lime tree is originated from the Southeast Asia but it’s now available everywhere around the world including the tropical and subtropical regions.
That’s why there are so many lime types now. As a garden enthusiast, you should learn about them to make your both indoor and outdoor garden standouts.
Let’s check some of them!
Key Limes (Mexican limes)
For its aroma and strong acidic flavor, many people call it the bartender’s lime as well.
It’s even better than most lemon types in terms of aroma, flavor, and juiciness! Because of the intense sour-sweet taste, it’s widely used in baking, cooking, and flavor cocktails.
In fact, back in the 1800s, Key lime pickles in salt water was a popular treat for the kids. More so, the juice from the Key limes is widely used to make key lime pie.
However, in the pure botanic term, it’s called Citrus Aurantiifolia.
Though many people call it the Mexican limes, such small type of round lime grows anywhere with hot climates.
In comparison with other lime types like the Persian limes, the fruits are a little smaller and more yellow.
The Key lime tree is kind of thorny bush type trees and its fruits can grow up to 1-inches in diameter. And its flesh contains several seeds.
Yes, it gets more yellow in color, but they are harvested from the lime tree while still green. The color and flavor intensify gradually afterwards.
There are other variations of the key limes as well like the Mary Ellen sweet lime, Thornless Mexican lime, and Castello lime.
Kaffir Limes (Citrus Hystrix)
Particularly in Asia, Kaffir limes are very popular. Also, known as the makrut lime.
The word ‘hystrix’ from its scientific name refers to the hedgehog. So, wear gloves while collecting fruits from the Makrut tree. The whole tree is full of thorny branches! And these thorns are very sharp.
The bumpy/pebbly skin, warty texture, and lime-green color have made it very distinctive to identify easily.
As the Kaffir limes ripe over time, the lime-green color turns to somewhat yellow. And unlike other type of limes, t has very little lime juice.
The extremely tart and acidic taste have made it very unique than other type of limes too. It’s too acidic to cook with but very rich in lime oil!
If compared with the Persian and Mexican limes, Kaffir limes contain very little juice. The reason is it’s very smaller in size (2-inches wide). The lime tree itself can grow as big as 25 feet tall if it gets enough humidity and warm.
Considering the little juice, the other parts of the Kaffir limes have many usages in cooking. The rough rind of limes is enriched with essential oil.
Also, to add acidity and flavor, the peel of the Kaffir limes is widely used in Thai and Indonesian curry dishes (mostly in saucy curries). Even the dried leaves of the lime tree are heavily used in many Asian dishes.
Bearss Limes (Persian Limes)
Another popular type of lime is Persian limes that are larger in size with an oval shape. And it tastes less acidic, unlike most other lime varieties. It’s very common in the market.
In the botanic world, it’s familiar as the Citrus latifolia. The tree is thorn-less and the fruits can grow as big as 6 centimeters in diameter. It’s widely available in Florida!
Persian limes are a variety of seedless limes too. You can find these green-skinned lime in your local stores. However, the green skin will turn greenish-yellow as they ripe gradually.
The key difference between the Bearss limes and Key limes is that the former tastes less acidic. The Persian limes also have the thicker skin than the Key limes as well.
If your plan to grow Bearss limes, please keep in mind that they are heavy feeders. For the leaf’s growth, it needs nitrogen. To produce flowers, it needs phosphorus. For the fruits, it needs zinc, magnesium, and other vital growing elements.
So, you need to feed them regularly. You need to give it organic granular fertilizer at least 3 times a year including watering the soil regularly.
Limequats (Citrus Floridana)
Limequats grow well in cool climate but you can find them in the U.S., Japan, Spain, Malaysia, and other countries too.
As the grow in bushy form, many people plant the tree as indoor houseplants in containers or pots as well.
It’s a cross-breed between the Key limes and kumquats. The flesh tastes like bitter-sweet but the skin tastes like sweet. And they produce citrus fruits in abundance even from a young age.
Before turning into lemon-yellow color when ripened, Limequates usually have a green color. So, when ripened, they look like lemons!
It’s strongly acidic and contains huge amount of vitamin C. You can eat the limequat fruits in whole form you can use just the rind and juice to add flavor your drinks and dishes.
Due to its elongated shape and various color, it’s a very unusual type of lime to many people. However, various types of Finger limes may have various colors like lime-green, light-green, red, light-pink, etc.
To some people, it looks like a short cucumber where the fruits can grow as long as 3-inches.
Scientifically known as Microcitrus australasica. Many people from other countries also call it caviar lime or Australian finger lime.
With bumpy skin, the cylindrical-shaped citrus fruit is completely seedless and has a lime-green color.
Now, let me explain why it’s called the caviar limes too.
The finger limes flesh looks like the smaller caviar pearls and if you bite those pearls, you will have a refreshing taste. As a garnish, you can use those fleshy pearls for various foods like chicken and seafood too.
They are believed to be originated from India but many people believed it’s just another form of Mandarin lime.
The flavor is not so great and they don’t taste so acidic as well. The juice of Kusaie lime is color-less and transparent.
The oval-shaped lime has very deep-yellow color thick rind which is very easy to peel off. The lime fruit contains some seeds too.
Kusaie limes grow well in cool weather.
Australian Desert Lime (Citrus Glauca)
Such lime tree has the extra ordinary drought-resistant capacity by shredding off its leaves to survive in the desert. It can withstand extreme temperature variation ranges from 12°C to 45°C.
So, it can tolerate salinity, frost, drought, and heat too. Beyond that, the sharp thorns on the younger plants protect them from the grazing animals as a natural defense mechanism.
Very tiny in size (marble size) fruit has the color of light yellow-green when fully mature. You don’t usually see the Australian desert lime in superstores because people don’t eat it directly.
Rather, it’s used as ingredients in many pre-packaged commercial products like marmalade and special fruits, in cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
The limes are widely flavored by the food service industry because it it’s enriched with folates, antioxidants, and obviously vitamin C.
During the spring, you see the white flowers appearing with blue-grey leaves facing upwards. Out of so many lime types, this is probably the only lime tree that gives fruits quickly after the flowering.
Not proven but it is believed they originated from the island of Tahiti. Hence the name came from. You are most likely buying Tahiti limes if you usually get limes from a superstore.
Tahiti limes is another seedless lime type from the Persian limes family. But unlike the oval shape, Tahiti limes have an oblong shape. Other than that, the two are hardly any different.
Both the Tahiti and Persian limes are less acidic and have juicy flesh (very juicy). Although it’s familiar for being tart, it’s less tart than the Key limes.
Before they ripe into yellow-green color, they taste better when they are deep green colors. Since they are very easy to grow and have thicker skin, it’s easy to package and transport them from here and there.
Calamansi Limes (Philippine Limes)
It’s also known as calamondin or musk lime in some countries. Scientifically called Citrus microcarpa and it’s actually a hybrid type of lime fruit where it looks like a small green lime with orange color flesh.
It grows heavily in Southern Asian countries like the Philippines where it can grow as big as 2.5 centimeters in diameter. Having a very thin skin, they are very hard to store or transport.
Outside the Asian countries, people from other countries plant the Calamansi limes as ornamental fruit-producing shrubs too. In fact, you can grow them in pots and containers too for your indoor gardening.
What’s so interesting about this lime is that it looks like a smaller tangerine when fully ripe! Also, the juice tastes very sour but the rind tastes very sweet when fully ripened.
Because of this unique features, Calamansi limes are widely used in many dishes for the decorative value and flavor.
To have fully ripened fruits takes almost a year. Besides, many gardeners grow them as attractive houseplants either as bonsai or fully-grown ornamental tall indoor trees.
Another unusual type of sweet lime with red color. It’s actually a cross between the Ellendale mandarin and red finger lime. This hybrid lime was developed salt-resistant to grow in some specific areas of Australia.
What’s so interesting about blood limes is that there is an extra layer of flesh under their bumpy skin.
The sweet tangy taste and unique red color are easily noticeable. Along with the blood lime flesh, you can eat the skin too.
Unlike other common lime variations, the egg-shaped blood limes are very tiny in size (only 1.5-inch long and 0.7-inch wide) with lightly pitted skin.
Apart from the fruit, some people grow this interesting citrus tree just as ornamental trees.
Many people call it the Indian Mandarin lime and some also class it as the exotic lime. So, the common use of Rangpur limes is to make marmalade.
Many botanic experts believe it’s generated from Bangladesh originally (Rangpur is a district in Bangladesh where it grows a lot).
If you set the name aside, Rangpur limes are actually a crossing between the citron fruit and mandarin orange. And in the botanic world, it’s named Citrus jambhiri Lush.
It may look like small oranges but tastes like normal limes. And they can be used interchangeably with other lime fruits.
Omani Dried Limes
Also known as Noomi Basra, black lime, limoo Amani, loomi, etc which is a very small type of aromatic and tart lime. If you are a fan of Middle Eastern dishes flavor, Omani dried limes play a great role there.
It can be used in two forms. When boiled in saltwater and dried, it can be used as spice to make Persian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Widely used in seafood, vegetables, stews, soups, poultry & meat dishes, tagines, etc. Also, you can use the dried peel, it can be brewed into tea!
Sounds weird? Let me explain.
Omani dried limes are dried while they are still on the tree. Then they are boiled in saltwater and dried in the sun until the color becomes almost black.
Then it can be used in crushed, powdered, or even the whole form.
Well, it looks more like lemon than lime. And as the scent is more like ginger, they call it ginger limes. For reason unknown, it’s called ‘Ada Jamir’ somewhere else in the world too.
However, with a thick rind, ginger limes contain dozens of seeds with firm & smooth skin. Interestingly, the flesh of ginger-lime is yellow!
Limetta (Palestinian Sweet Lime)
Limetta is believed to native to India irrespective of the name and it’s a cross between the Mexican lime and sweet lemon. It’s a very low-acid lime.
It’s now available in many parts of the world as well like the U.S., Egypt, northern Vietnam, etc. In Palestine, it’s used in rootstock, food, and juice.
Mandarin limes have made their way to the Western world since the early 1800s. Though it may sound weird it’s a group of 3 limes: Otaheite lime, Rangpur lime, and Kusaie lime.
The lime tree can grow as tall as 20 feet high with dull green foliage. Some of its cultivars may become thorny and the smaller fruits may have a reddish to orange color.
Different countries grow Mandarin lime trees for various purposes. But most people grow it for ornamental purposes only.
If you plan to grow Mandarin limes as ornamental trees, make sure NOT to overwater them. They hate overwatering. All they need is well-draining soil and a cooler environment.
Mary Ellen Sweet Limes
Such lime can be either oval or round-shaped and they have usually a medium size. Mary Ellen Sweet Limes were originated from Mexico.
The leaves are bright green and the flowers are pure white. They taste great with very little acidity. When growing, it becomes pale green in color but when ripe, it turns into pale yellow color.
Unlike most other limes, the fruit taste less-acidic.
Like a cross between Kalamansi lime and Kaffir lime, they have been around just recently (since 2010 only). Merdeka limes grow well in tropical and subtropical regions.
The very fragrant limes have firm pulp and they taste bitter. Each fruit may weigh up to 180 grams.
In fact, it has the highly fragrant leaves and fruits than any other lime variations. Such limes have no or little seeds (6 to 8 seeds per fruit). Just like the Kaffir leaves, many people use the Merdeka lime leaves in cooking for fragrance as well.
Because of its high antioxidant properties than most other lime types, many people make it into tea. People love the strong citrus aroma too.
They are very sweet but have a minimum acidic content. They have been available in the U.S. since the early 1940s. The lime tree gives a flower in the spring and provides limes all year long.
No matter how weird it sounds, Spanish limes are not actually citrus fruits. They belong to the soapberry family. Even weirder, it has many names across the various parts of the world.
They taste sweet when ripe but very sour if not ripe.
From pale-yellow to salmon-orange, it has a lot of variety of colors. When cut open, you may even find large white seeds inside! Interestingly, you can roast and eat the seeds.
The Indo-Malayan lime is relatively large in size than most other standard lime types. They can grow as wide as 6 centimeters wide. They become mature only when their skin turns pale yellow.
Castelo limes grow well during the season from the middle of the fall to winter. And you can use it instead of key lime while preparing your favorite key lime pie!
How about getting a 2-in-1 tree? It’s a cross-breed between the Meyer lemon trees and fragrant key lime trees. And yes, it grows both lime and lemon from a single tree!
The whole purpose of developing this mixed plant is to maximize the space and flavor of the family gardens. You can grow them in containers and it’s easy to grow them because they are self-fertile!
Apart from the above list, there are many types of limes around the world. But I covered most of the popular ones.
Limes add value to human lives in many ways. In addition to satisfying your lime needs, the lime tree can add beauty to your home undoubtedly.
- Phylogenetic origin of limes and lemons revealed by cytoplasmic and nuclear markers.
- The relationships among lemons, limes and citron: a chromosomal comparison