Citrus hystrix., the Kaffir or makrut lime or papeda, is a small tree in the Papeda subgenus of the Rutaceae (citrus family). Members of this subgenus are characterized by fruits that are inedible, even when ripe, and contain acrid oil droplets in the juice vesicles (pulp cells). Thus, this species is used primarily for its leaves, which are used fresh or dried as an herb to flavor Asian dishes, including soups, stews, curries, and sauces. It is common in the cuisine of Thailand, and provides the characteristic flavor of tom yam soup. The zest and rind may also be used, but the fruit itself has almost no juice, and is primarily used for traditional medicinal purposes. (The lime that is sold fresh or for its juice is from related species, including C. aurantiifolia., the key lime, and C. latifolia, the Persian or Tahitian lime.)
C. hystrix typically grows 3 to 6 m (9.75 to 19.5 ft) tall. The aromatic leaves, which are evergreen, have a distinctive structure, with a winged petiole (leaf stem) that is similar in size to the leaf itself, giving the appearance a laterally divided leaf. The globose flower buds open into fragrant flowers with 4 to 5 petals and around 30 stamens; petals are white with reddish or pink on the outside. The sub-globose to ellipsoid fruit is small, from 3 to 5 cm (1 to 2 in) wide by 5 to 7 cm (2 to 3 in) long--similar in size to slightly larger than a kumquat--with a rough skin with numerous small oil glands, and ripens to lemon yellow.
C. hystrix originated in southeast Asia, but its precise native range has been obscured by a long history of cultivation, along with hybridization. The species and its various hybrids are now cultivated widely throughout the region, from Sri Lanka east to the Phillipines.
(Flora of China 2012, van Wyk 2005)
- Flora of China. 2012. Vol 11. 3. Citrus hystrix Candolle, Cat. Pl. Horti Monsp. 19, 97. 1813. Accessed on-line 12 March 2012 from http://efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=242313263.
- van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. “Citrus hystrix.” Food Plants of the World: An Illustrated Guide. Portland, OR: Timber Press. P. 139.
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Flora of China Editorial Committee. 2008. Fl. China 11: 1–622. Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing & St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1032358
Habitat & Distribution
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Citrus hystrix
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Citrus hystrix
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Citrus hystrix, commonly known in English as kaffir lime, is a fruit native to Indochinese and Malesian ecoregions in India, Nepal, Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and adjacent countries. It is used in Southeast Asian cuisine.
English: kaffir lime; French: citron combera, combava, citron ridé; Indonesian/Malay: jeruk obat, jeruk purut, limau purut; Filipino: kabuyao or cabuyao; Khmer: krô:ch saë:ch; Thai magrood; also known as combava, kieffer lime or makrut lime.
The Oxford Companion to Food (ISBN 0-19-211579-0) recommends that the name kaffir lime should be avoided in favor of makrut lime because Kaffir is an offensive term in certain cultures, and also has no clear reason for being attached to this plant. However, kaffir lime appears to be much more common.
Citrus hystrix is a thorny bush, 5-10m tall, with aromatic and distinctively shaped "double" leaves. The kaffir lime is a rough, bumpy green fruit. The green lime fruit is distinguished by its bumpy exterior and its small size (approx. 4 cm (2 in) wide).
The rind of the kaffir lime is commonly used in Lao and Thai curry paste, adding an aromatic, astringent flavor. The zest of the fruit is used in creole cuisine to impart flavor in "arranged" rums in the Martinique, Réunion island and Madagascar. However, it is the hourglass-shaped leaves (comprising the leaf blade plus a flattened, leaf-like leaf-stalk or petiole) that are used most often in cooking. They can be used fresh or dried, and can be stored frozen. The leaves are widely used in Thai and Lao cuisine (for dishes such as tom yum), and Cambodian cuisine (for the base paste "Krueng"). Kaffir lime leaves are used in Vietnamese cuisine with chicken to add fragrance. They are also used when steaming snails to decrease the pungent odor while cooking. The leaves are also used in Indonesian cuisine (especially Balinese cuisine and Javanese cuisine), for foods such as Soto ayam, and are used along with Indonesian bay leaf for chicken and fish. They are also found in Malaysian and Burmese cuisines. The juice is generally regarded as too acidic to use in food preparation. In Cambodia, the entire fruit is crystallized/candied for eating.
The juice and rinds are used in traditional Indonesian medicine; for this reason the fruit is referred to in Indonesia as jeruk obat ("medicine citrus"). The oil from the rind has strong insecticidal properties.
The juice finds use as a cleanser for clothing and hair in Thailand and very occasionally in Cambodia. Lustral water mixed with slices of the fruit is used in religious ceremonies in Cambodia.
Citrus hystrix is grown worldwide in suitable climates as a garden shrub for home fruit production. It is well suited to container gardens and for large garden pots on patios, terraces, and in conservatories.
The compound responsible for the characteristic aroma was identified as (–)-(S)-citronellal, which is contained in the leaf oil up to 80%; minor components include citronellol (10%), nerol and limonene.
From a stereochemical point of view, it is remarkable that kaffir lime leaves contain only the (S) stereoisomer of citronellal, whereas its enantiomer, (+)-(R)-citronellal, is found in both lemon balm and (to a lesser degree) lemon grass, (note, however, that citronellal is only a trace component in the latter's essential oil).
Kaffir lime fruit peel contains an essential oil comparable to lime fruit peel oil; its main components are limonene and β-pinene.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Citrus hystrix.|
- "TPL, treatment of Citrus hystrix DC.". The Plant List; Version 1. (published on the internet). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden. 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- Dy Phon Pauline, 2000, Plants Used In Cambodia, printed by Imprimerie Olympic, Phnom Penh
- Loha-unchit, Kasma. "Kaffir Lime –Magrood". Retrieved 16 May 2012.
- GRIN . accessed 5.5.2011
- Pocket Guide to Asian Herbs & Spices By Wendy Hutton, Alberto Cassio