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Citrus ID


West Indian




Abhayapuri, Akola, American, Antillaise, Balady, Bartender, Beldi, Beledy, Ben Zohair, Benzeher, Benzihair, Canaria, Caribean, Champakagzi, Citron Gallet, Coorg, Corriente, Dalayap, Dayap, Dhoc, di Napoli, Doc, Egyptian, Elumichai, Fiji, Gallego, Gifford, Gurarath, Hessargatta, India, Jaidevi, Jeruk Asem, Jeruk Neepis, Jeruk Nipis, Jeruk Pecel, Jeruk Peras, Kagazi Nimbu, Kagazi Wimbu, Kaghzi Kalan, Kaghzi Nimbu, Kaghzi, Kagzi Nimboo, Karibsky, Karimganj, Kasi Pentla, Katagi, Kazzi, Key, Lai Meng, Manao, Manoa, Mejicana, Mexicanie, Mexican, Mexicky, Mexico, Mungalipattu, Muri, Napoli, Napulitaniello, Nimboo, Nimbu, PKM-1, Pramalini, Rachidi, Rashidy, Sai Sarbati, Santa Barbara, Shirazi, Sour, Stow #7, Sutil, Taporo, Tenali, Torsh, Vikram (sec. Cottin 2002)

Cultivar or taxon


Citrus x aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle, pro sp. (sensu Mabberley 2004); Citrus aurantifolia (Christm.) Swingle [=Citrus x aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle, pro sp.] (sensu Hodgson 1967; sensu Tanaka sec. Cottin 2002)



Hodgson (1967) noted that:

"Although it is known that the West Indian lime was planted on some of the Florida Keys (reef islands off the southeast coast) as early as 1838 and that ultimately it became naturalized there (hence the term Key lime), it was not until the early part of the present century that a small commercial industry was developed in Florida."

"A nucellar seedling selection arising from the Mexican lime-grapefruit cross was described and named Everglade in 1905 by Webber (1943) in the belief that it produced a larger fruit. In California, it has been indistinguishable from the parent clones and therefore has not come into use. Thornless clones reported in the literature include: Doc Sans Epines (Doc Thornless) of Morocco; Yung, a form introduced into California from Morroco by George Yung about 1882 and described and named by Webber (1943); an introduction from Trinidad (West Indies) received by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1910, a limb sport which was found in the Ballard orchard near Weslaco, Texas, shortly after the freeze of 1925; and a selection recently made at Yuma, Arizona, by J. Hamilton of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. None has proved to have commercial value."

Hodgson (1967) additionally noted that "...the West Indian lime was planted on some of the Florida Keys (reef islands off the southeast coast) as early as 1838 and that ultimately it became naturalized there (hence the term Key lime)..."

The Chiefland Budwood Facility (2010) provided the following notes on the cultivar under synonymous Key lime (clone SPB-51): " Most likely collected from Avon Park Bombing Range around 1957....Origin: W. Indies."



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; wings narrow, adjoining the blade. Leaflets one, margin bluntly toothed, shade leaflet blades weakly conduplicate, sun leaflet blades weakly or strongly conduplicate. Scent of crushed leaflets freshly lemon-like. Fruit as broad as long or longer than broad; rind light green with some break to yellow (5), green-yellow (6), or yellow (7-10); rind texture smooth (1-3) or slightly rough (4-5); firmness leathery; navel absent; flesh green/greenish; taste sour.

Hodgson (1967) provided the following additional notes on the cultivar:

"Fruit very small, round, obovate or short-elliptical; base usually rounded but sometimes with slight neck; apex also rounded but usually with small, low, and faintly furrowed nipple. Moderately seedy and highly polyembryonic. Rind very thin; surface smooth, leathery; tightly adherent; color greenish-yellow at maturity, following which it drops from the tree. Segments 10 to 12; axis very small and usually solid. Flesh color greenish-yellow; fine-grained, tender, juicy; highly acid with distinctive aroma. Somewhat everbearing but crop comes mainly in winter (earlier in very hot climates).

Tree medium in vigor and size, spreading and bushy with numerous, slender, willowy fine-stemmed branchlets densely armed with small, slender spines. Foliage dense and consists of small, pale green, broadly lanceolate, blunt-pointed leaves with definitely winged petioles. Flower buds and flowers small, and flowering occurs throughout year but mainly in spring and late summer. Not withstanding contrary statements in the literature, the new shoot growth is faintly purple-tinted and flower buds and young flowers faintly purple-tinged. Coloration fades rapidly, however, especially if the weather is warm, and is soon lost. Very sensitive to cold.

The West Indian or Mexican lime is the kaghzi nimbu (numerous modifications and other local names) of India, the limûn baladi of Egypt, the doc of Morocco, the Gallego lime of Brazil, and limon corriente in some Latin American counties. In North America, it is sometimes also called the Key lime.

Because of the relatively high degree of polyembryony exhibited by this fruit, it comes remarkably true to seed, and seed propagation is still employed in most of the countries where its culture is important—India, Egypt, and Mexico. As a consequence, clonal varieties have not been selected and named, except for a few which are noted below. In this connection, it is significant to note that in California it has been found impossible to distinguish between seedling clones of the common acid lime from India, Egypt, and Mexico, and clones of Florida and West Indian from origin budded trees. It seems likely, therefore, that the principal clones employed are genetically identical and that only one horticultural variety is involved, which in California is known as Mexican and in Florida as West Indian or Key."

The Chiefland Budwood Facility (2010) provided the following additional notes on the cultivar under synonymous Key lime (SPB-51): "Description: Very small fruit, thin rind, smooth, moderately seedy 3-5, greenish yellow. Season: Everbearing, mainly winter."



Hodgson (1967) additionally noted that:

"Of all the citrus fruits, the West Indian lime is highest in percentage composition for acid in the juice, ranging from 7 to 8 per cent (calculated as citric). It is somewhat lower than the lemon in ascorbic acid, however, and in other vitamins and hence has somewhat less dietetic value. For many years, however, sour lime juice (probably sweet lime also) was used in the treatment or prevention of scurvy."

The Chiefland Budwood Facility (2010) provided the following notes on the cultivar under synonymous Key lime (clone SPB-51): "Main Key Lime clone utilized in nursery industry."



Chiefland Budwood Facility. 2010. 2010 Annual report July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2010. Bureau of Citrus Budwood Registration, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Winter Haven.

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

Hodgson, R.W. 1967. Horticultural varieties of Citrus. In: Reuther, W., H.J. Webber, and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry, rev. University of California Press.

Mabberley, D.J. 1997. A classification for edible Citrus (Rutaceae). Telopea 7: 167–172.



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