Limes are a highly nutritious citrus fruit. Extremely sour, they are rarely eaten raw but instead are used as a flavoring agent for drinks and foods. The highly acid fruit is also used in non-edible products. Lime trees are compact, attractive plants and are often grown in containers as ornamental trees. They will quickly die in cold temperatures (around freezing) and can only be grown outdoors if potted or if the temperatures are warm year-round, such as in a subtropical climate.
Mexican Lime Tree
The Mexican lime is probably the most well-known lime in America. Also called the Key lime or West Indian Lime, this small (less than 2 inches) round or oblong fruit grows on a tree that is short, bushy and covered with thorns. The skin of this lime is thin and yellowish-green, and the fruit has a very strong, traditional "lime" fragrance.
Rangpur Lime Tree
The Rangpur lime tree is most commonly cultivated as an ornamental rather than a fruit-producing tree. The limes are not desirable, as they are filled with seeds and resemble mandarins. Still, the graceful, upright shape of the tree, as well as the dark, glossy green leaves, makes this an attractive container lime tree.
Tahiti Lime Tree
The Tahiti lime tree (also called Persian lime) is a hybrid lime tree that was cultivated to produce large limes that are similar to key limes. It is one of the largest lime trees, with the ability to grow as high as 20 feet tall. Branches can be smooth or covered with thorns, and there is no way to predict how they will grow. The limes are larger than key limes, having a diameter of up to 3 inches. They also have a distinctive bump, or nipple on one end. Otherwise, they are the same as Mexican (key) limes in appearance, smell and taste.
Ormani Lime Tree
Omani lime trees are found in Oman, which is located in the Middle East. The tree is small, compact and thorny. The very small, fragrant lime is usually boiled in salt water, then dried and used as a seasoning in many recipes. As a dried spice, it is sour and unmistakeably citrusy.
Kaffir Lime Tree
The Kaffir lime tree is found in Indonesia and is just as desirable for its leaves as for the limes themselves. The leaves, which are an attractive dark green, are used in many recipes throughout South East Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. The juice of the lime, which has a distinctive, bumpy rind, is also commonly used in medicines and recipes. Both the leaves and limes have a very strong, tangy, citrusy smell and taste.
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