Citrus glauca

Distribution Map
Family: Rutaceae
Distribution: Semi arid and arid areas of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
Common Name: Desert or Wild Lime.
Derivation of Name: Citrus; from Greek, citrus, the Latin name for the citron.
glauca; bluish, referring to the foliage colour.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

The Desert Lime was formerly known as Eremocitrus glauca but has recently undergone botanical revision and has been reunited with the genus Citrus. Details of the revision are in:

  • Mabberley, D. (1998). Australian Citreae with notes on other Aurantioideae (Rutaceae), Telopea 7(4), 1998.

Citrus glauca
Fruit of Citrus glauca
Photo: Eric Anderson

Citrus glauca is a medium shrub or small tree generally 3-7 metres in height. It is confined to inland areas, usually on heavy, clay soils. The foliage is greenish-grey, with oblong leaves up to 50mm long by 5 mm wide. The stems are spiny with irregularly spaced thorns. Flowers are 10 mm across, white or greenish in colour and appear in late winter and spring. The flowers are followed by greenish/yellow fruits which are globular in shape and about 15 mm diameter. The fruits are edible and have a strong citrus flavour which is widely sought by "bush tucker" enthusiasts.

Because of its habitat, C glauca is of interest as a grafting rootstock to possibly extend the range of commercial citrus crops. There is also potential for breeding to develop new citrus varieties.

Desert lime is not widely cultivated as it is generally unsuited to the wetter climates of the major population centres. It can be cultivated successfully in inland areas. The plant has a suckering habit which may need to be controlled in cultivation.

Propagation is possible from seed but cuttings may be slow to strike. Grafting or budding onto other citrus stocks has apparently been successful.

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