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Finger Limes

From the Australian Bushfood and Native Medicine Forum

This forum is the most fun you can have without getting fat. Well worth a visit. Below a sample of some conversations held at the forum. 

Regarding finger limes:

There are a number nurseries doing grafted finger limes in Northern NSW - Judy Viola, near Banaglow; Daley's Fruit Tree Nursery, near Kyogle; and, Forbidden Fruit Tree Nursery near Mullumbimby.
Seedling are slow. In reasonable situations with good soil fertility and water they can start producing fruit within 6 years (some people say 12-15 years, but these must be very slow trees!).
From my experience, cutting grown trees are slower than budded trees.
Pocirus trifoliata rootstock is slower to mature, but seems to produce a better plant than citrange rootstock.
As far as I know, finger lime produces the largest range of colours of any Citrus species: red, purple, black, brown, yellow, green, orange with a varied range of colour combinations with the vesicles (segments). I haven't seen a stripey coloured one yet (looking forward to that! - a rainbow lime).
Thorniness is an issue. It's a hazard to harvest fruits (wear eye protection when you're seriously in among them). However, I have observed thornless varieties, but don't know if any are in the current repoitre of available varieties ( far as I know - not).
But on the brighter side, the thorniness is great for nesting small bird habitat!
If you are planting finger lime commercially, be careful. It maybe advisble to plant a range for varieties. It's early days, and it's hard to know for sure what varieties will eventually turn out to be the best. Most of the varieties are selected from wild genetic stock. but the variation in wild stock is excellent, and there's every possibility that budded selections will be suitable if they meet the right criterion.
Seedless to low-seed wild Finger lime strains have been known since the mid- 1990's. That feature is desirable when preparing the fresh vesicles for eating.
The biggest plant disease issue seems to be limb dieback, which maybe a fungus, judging from what is effecting Sunrise Lime which has finger lime genes.
A finger lime from near Mullumbimby was identified as being the most resilient Citrus to Citrophora (Citrus dieback) in the 1970s. And it seems that seedling finger limes do handle heavy soils very well!
Cheers for now, Peter Hardwick.

And in answer to a plea from a grower who finger lime had defoliated while flowering:

First off, there is hope because finger lime can defoliate and survive, but defoliation may also indicate some serious problems.
Finger can nearly totally in some situations and then leaf-up again, especially in harder conditions when it is dry. As you spotted, finger limes are green often way down the stem. So finger limes do photosynthesize through the stems and thorns.
I think the shedding of leaves is a first line of defense in a stress situation. Leaf shed reduces evaporation loss during dry periods for a start. And they can recover form these leafless periods.
But you say that you have just moved the plant to a new site, and its shed its leaves, I wonder if the change of position has shocked the plant. Moving it to a more exposed westerly site. Remembering that finger limes are an understorey in the wild, although they can handle full sun and exposed sites if gradually introduced from shady site.
If so, I would tend to move it back to the original posistion to let it recover, and then more gradually reintroduce it back to the new site.
Next possibility, over-fertilizing over winter (when plants can't use high nutrient because athey are not in active growth) can occur, and leaf drop can be a symptom of over-fertilizing. So maybe it's a good idea to pull-back from the carp applications, until the plant is starting to show active growth, and then use the carp more sparingly, maybe light appliactions every month or two during the growing seson and not during winter
The main worry is that finger limes can have branch dieback sometimes, and that can sometimes progressively affect the whole plant. Most often it's just a branch here-and-there. It's just a particular peculiarity of finger lime that we have to live with, but I think healthier plants are not as susceptable.
Just an afterthought, make sure your potting mix is kept moist. They are a rainforest plant, and I it's not so easy to observe wilt in finger lime, because of the small leaves.

Peter