This tool is part of the Citrus Resource

Citrus ID


Atalantia monophylla




Atalantia floribunda Wight (sec. Swingle and Reece 1967)

Cultivar or taxon


Atalantia monophylla DC. (sec. Swingle and Reece 1967, Bayer et al. 2009; sensu Tanaka sec. Cottin 2002)



Swingle and Reece (1967) noted that:

"The nomenclature of this species is in a confused state. Limonia monophylla of Linnaeus has been assumed by almost all taxonomists to be this species. However, Trimen (1893, p. 227) listed L. monophylla L. as a synonym of Atalantia ceylanica, and stated that "the figure of Burmann [1737, pl. 65, fig. l]…appears to represent this rather than A. monophylla…Hermann's specimen…is certainly A. zeylanica [ceylanica]." Airy-Shaw (1939, p. 291) again examined Hermann’s specimen (which is in fact the type specimen of Limonia monophylla L.) in the British Museum and saw no reason to doubt Trimen's findings. Airy-Shaw then showed that A. monophylla was based by De Candolle expressly on "Limonia monophylla Linn." of Roxburgh (1795, vol. 1, pp. 59-60, pl. 83) and that L. monophylla L. was not cited. However, the plant described and figured by Roxburgh was certainly not A. ceylanica and hence was not Limonia monophylla L. Airy-Shaw assumed that Roxburgh's plant from the Coromandel Coast was, in fact, A. monophylla as understood by Hooker (1875, p. 511), and accepted the name A. monophylla DC. for it. However, Roxburgh described and figured a plant having a "four-five parted" calyx, a character not found in A. monophylla as understood by Hooker. That species has, instead of a normal calyx, a bladder-like continuous membrane covering the flower bud which, as the bud expands, splits irregularly. Possibly both Roxburgh and the artist who made the beautiful colored plate of the Coromandel plant failed to see the irregularly ruptured calyx and, without careful study, assumed that it was 4- or 5-parted as in most of the other species of Atalantia and other related genera. Roxburgh described the leaves as "end-nicked" and "from two to three inches long, and one or one and a half broad"; nevertheless he published a plate showing a flowering branch with 23 leaves, none of them emarginate at the apex, measuring 1 7/8 to 2 9/16 inches long, and 5/8 to 1 1/16 inches wide, only one leaf slightly exceeding the minimum width given in the description and more than three-fourths of them narrower than 1 inch! In view of these facts, no great importance should be attached to the fact that neither Roxburgh nor the artist noticed at that time the abnormal splitting of the calyx, something no botanist had noticed in any species of Atalantia or in any other plant belonging to the orange subfamily.

For the present, it seems best to assume that Roxburgh was describing and figuring the true A. monophylla of Hooker and that A. monophylla DC. is the oldest valid name for it."



Crown compact or dense, not weeping. First-year twig surface glabrous; second- or third-year twig surface striate; thorns straight; prickles absent or not persistent. Petiole glabrous, length short or medium, wings absent. Leaflets one, margins entire, shade leaflet blades weakly conduplicate, sun leaflet blades weakly conduplicate. Scent of crushed leaflets sweetly orange-like or somewhat to strongly malodorous. Fruit broader than long; rind light green with some break to yellow (5), green-yellow (6), or yellow (7-10); firmness leathery; navel absent.

Swingle and Reece (1967) provided the following additional notes on the species:

"A small, much-branched tree with rounded twigs usually slightly hairy at first, becoming glabrous, with single, stout, sharp spines, 10-15 or 20 mm long, or unarmed; leaves bright green above, paler and reticulate-veined below, ovate-lanceolate or elliptical, variable in size, 3-15 X 2-4 cm (usually 4-8 or 10 X 2.5-3.5 cm), margins entire or slightly undulate, apices obtusely rounded, often emarginate, bases broadly cuneate, articulated with the wingless petioles that are 5-10 mm long and 1.5-2 mm wide, flattened above, veins strongly marked on the under surface, 10-14 on each side, branched, forming reticulate veinlets and also forked near the margins and anastomosing; flowers long-pediceled on short racemes (or clustered) in the axils of the leaves, pedicels 6-15 mm long, finely pubescent or glabrous, merging into the calyx; calyx more or less irregularly and deeply 2-cleft, and glabrous or finely pubescent; corolla 4-5-merous, petals white, glabrous, bluntly rounded at apex, 8-10 mm long; stamens 8-10, united into a tube 6-8 mm long with the anthers borne on the free tips of the filaments; pistil slender, 6-7 X 1 mm, ending in an abruptly expanded, 3-4-lobed stigma, 1.2-1.5 mm diam.; style caducous; fruits globose, 1.5-2 cm diam., yellowish-green when ripe, locules filled with numerous cuneate, sessile pulp-vesicles which are broad-based and tapering to a point at their free end, toward the center of fruit; seeds usually only 1 to a locule; often some of the locules do not develop seeds.

The most remarkable character of this species (found also in the closely related species A. macrophylla) is its very curious calyx. This is a hollow, balloon-like envelope, not articulated with the pedicel and without any sign of sepals. Soon this undifferentiated envelope splits more or less irregularly into 2 (rarely 3) lobes, and exposes the corolla, stamens, and pistil to view."



Swingle and Reece (1967) additionally noted that: " Atalantia monophylla has very hard wood that has been recommended as a substitute for boxwood (Gamble, 1915). The fruits are said to yield a warm oil used in treating chronic rheumatism by native doctors. One Indian author (Nadkani) stated that the fruits "make a nice pickle" (Lewis, 1934, p. 80)."

Additional information on related species may be found in the recent treatment by Zhang and Hartley in the Flora of China (Missouri Botanical Garden Press & Science Press; also online at or Guillaumin's 1910 revision in Notul. Syst. 1: 176-184 (



Airy-Shaw, H.K. 1939. Notes on the nomenclature of certain Rutaceae-Aurantioideae. Kew Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information 1939: 290–293.

Bayer, R.J., D.J. Mabberley, C. Morton, C.H. Miller, I.K. Sharma, B.E. Pfeil, S. Rich, R. Hitchcock, and S. Sykes. 2009. A molecular phylogeny of the orange subfamily (Rutaceae: Aurantioideae) using nine cpDNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 96: 668–685.

Cottin, R. 2002. Citrus of the World: A citrus directory. Version 2.0. France: SRA INRA-CIRAD.

Gamble, J.S. 1915. Flora of the Presidency of Madras. Part I. Adlard & Son, London. (Rutaceae, pp. 146–162)

Hooker, J.D. 1875–97. The flora of British India. Reeve & Co., London. 7 vol. (Rutaceae, 1: 484–517)

Lewis, F. 1934. The vegetable products of Ceylon. Assoc. Newspapers of Ceylon, Ltd., Colombo. 409 pp.

Roxburgh, W. 1795–1819. Plants of the coast of Coromandel; selected from drawings and descriptions presented to the Hon. Court of Directors of the East India Co. W. Bulmer, London. 3 vol.

Swingle, W.T. and P.C. Reece. 1967. The botany of Citrus and its wild relatives. In: Reuther, W., H.J. Webber, and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry. Ed. 2. Vol. I. University of California, Riverside.

Trimen, H. 1893. A handbook of the flora of Ceylon. Dulae & Co., Ltd., London. (Rutaceae, 1: 213–229 and Suppl. [1931], pp. 36–41)



Search for this cultivar in NPGS/GRIN

Search for this cultivar in NCBI Entrez or NCBI Nucleotide

Additional information on this cultivar at University of California: Riverside Citrus Variety Collection


Citrus ID Edition 2
October, 2011