Finger Lime Tree (citrus australasica)
A shrub like tree that produces small (3-5cm), slender fruits that contain many tiny pearls of sour citrus that pop in the mouth. Nicknamed "Citrus caviar" due to the appearance of the pearls, they are coloured dark green on the exterior and light green, turning to pink, as they ripen. The flavour is likened to a cross between lime and grapefruit. The pearls make an excellent topping to sushi, sashimi, canapés and work wonderfully well in desserts and cocktails.
Trees are approximately 70cm high (including pot) and will maintain a small size with a bushy appearance, the branches hold many tiny thorns so care is required when handling, pruning and harvesting. Self-fertile, they produce white flowers in spring with fruits ripening towards the end of the year. Although they will tolerate a light frost it is necessary to protect from frost and best practice is to move plants into a protected area over winter. During warm periods they will enjoy full or partial sun in a sheltered spot.
Water well so all compost in the pot is hydrated and allow compost to dry right out before watering again. This is a more suitable approach than watering little and often, never allow plants to stand in water. Like all citrus they are hungry plants so feed regularly with a citrus fertiliser following the products instructions.
Re-pot in spring and early summer, use a pot 25% larger than the existing one, for best results use a compost designed for use with citrus that is free draining and acidic. Prune to the desired shape in the period following harvest, control fast growing shoots, that occasionally grow much quicker than the rest of the plant, by pruning to match surrounding growth.
Traditional citrus pests are red spider mite, aphid, leaf miner and scale insects. Mostly treatable with a soap based spray, it is good practice to rinse the plant with these once a month to prevent build up.