Australian Native Finger Limes "Caviar Limes"

Finger limes, often dubbed "caviar limes," are intriguing citrus fruits native to Australia, predominantly found in the rainforests of the border regions of Queensland and New South Wales. Their unique appearance and flavor profile have made them a sought-after ingredient in gourmet cooking around the world.


Finger limes are part of the Citrus genus, and their botanical name is Citrus australasica. They have been used by Indigenous Australian peoples for thousands of years as a food source and for medicinal purposes. The fruit's traditional uses extend from direct consumption to a healing ointment applied to skin infections, thanks to its antiseptic properties.

The modern interest in finger limes began to pick up in the late 20th century when they started being cultivated commercially. Prior to this, they were largely wild-harvested. The increase in demand, particularly from high-end restaurants and overseas markets, has spurred significant interest in their cultivation.


Finger limes thrive in diverse Australian environments, but they are particularly suited to the sub-tropical and temperate regions where moderate climates prevail. Here’s how they are typically cultivated:

Climate Requirements

Finger limes prefer a warm, frost-free climate, similar to that of many other citrus fruits. They are sensitive to extreme cold and can only tolerate light frosts once well-established.

Soil and Planting

Good drainage is crucial for finger lime trees, as they can be prone to root rot. They prefer sandy loam soils with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. When planting finger limes, it’s important to ensure that they are not situated in soil where water can accumulate.

Care and Maintenance

Regular watering is necessary, especially in dry conditions, to keep the tree healthy and productive. However, over-watering should be avoided. Mulching can help retain soil moisture and control weeds. Finger lime trees also benefit from regular feeding with a balanced, citrus-specific fertilizer.

Pruning and Harvesting

Pruning is typically done to maintain the shape of the tree and to remove any dead or overcrowded branches, which helps in preventing diseases and promoting better air circulation around the fruit. Finger limes are usually harvested by hand from late summer to mid-autumn, depending on the variety and climate conditions.

The finger lime's journey from an underutilized wild fruit to a celebrated culinary delight is a testament to the richness of Australia's native flora and the growing global appreciation for its unique food sources. The cultivation of finger limes not only preserves this heritage but also provides new opportunities for farmers and chefs alike.

Variety Description Preferred Climate Soil Requirements Care Tips
Jali Jali finger limes are known for their robust size and vibrant green pulp. The skin is typically dark green, and they have a slightly tart taste. Cool to warm climates; frost-sensitive. Ideal temperature range is 18-25°C. Well-drained, slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 5.5-7). Mulching is recommended to retain moisture. Regular watering is crucial, especially during dry spells. Pruning should be done to maintain shape and promote air circulation within the canopy.
Red Champagne This variety boasts a deep red to burgundy skin with matching crimson pulp. Red Champagne finger limes are highly prized for their sweet and tart flavor profile. Similar to Jali, they thrive in cool to warm climates without extreme cold. Similar soil conditions as Jali; rich organic content is beneficial. Similar care to Jali; however, additional attention to pest management might be needed as the vibrant color can attract more insects.
Collette Collette finger limes are distinctive for their elongated shape and light green to yellowish skin. The pulp is typically pale green and has a refreshing zesty flavor. Best suited to slightly warmer conditions than Jali and Red Champagne. Can tolerate brief cold spells. Requires well-drained, fertile soil with good organic matter. Watering should be consistent but not excessive to avoid root rot. Prune to encourage lateral growth and increase fruit production.

These instructions should help nurseries in Victoria, Aus

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