New Finger Lime Cultivars for the Specialty Citrus Market

Jim Rogers Limes, Tip of the Week, Varieties

By Manjul Dutt

The finger lime is an HLB-tolerant Australian native citrus that has been gaining popularity and importance in the last few years. Finger lime has several unique fruit qualities that set it apart from conventional sweet oranges and mandarins.

The primary characteristic of this fruit is the round to teardrop-shaped juice vesicles, known as “citrus caviar,” that burst out when the fruit is cut. Finger limes, once processed and packaged, can increase in economic value several times over.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus improvement program has released two improved finger lime cultivars for Florida growers to cultivate as a specialty crop.  

finger lime

UF SunLime is a finger lime hybrid producing relatively large cylindrical fruit. Fruits, ranging from 2.7 to 3.1 inches in length, exhibit a rich, red color when mature. The fruits weigh 30.4 grams on average and possess on average of zero to five seeds under field conditions. The main bloom occurs in February and March with sporadic flowering throughout the year. This variety is tolerant to HLB but is susceptible to citrus scab. 

UF RedLime is a finger lime that produces longer fruit ranging from 4.2 to 4.8 inches in length. Fruits are narrow, oblong in shape and with slight tapering at both ends. The flowering season is similar to UF SunLime. Fruits weigh 28.8 grams and possess on average of four to 14 seeds under field conditions. Trees are highly tolerant to HLB.  

finger lime

Under Central and South Florida conditions, both cultivars produce high amounts of anthocyanins in both the juice vesicles and skin.  

It is anticipated that locally grown finger limes will be a useful addition to the Fresh From Florida portfolio and will help bolster local food systems leading to increased sales to restaurants and businesses. Trees of the two UF releases can be ordered from Brite Leaf Nursery, Southern Citrus Nursery or Phillip Rucks Citrus Nursery.

More information on finger lime cultivation can be found here.

Manjul Dutt (manjul@ufl.edu) is a research assistant scientist at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

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