Key Lime

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Key Lime
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Tree-ripened key lime.  Color is bright yellow, unlike the more common green Persian limes.
Tree-ripened key lime. Color is bright yellow, unlike the more common green Persian limes.
Plant Info
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Sapindales
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Family: Rutaceae
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Genus: Citrus
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Species: C. aurantifolia
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Binomial name
Citrus aurantifolia
(Christm.) Swingle
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Type Species

The Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia (often abbreviated to: C. aurantifolia), or Citrus x aurantifolia (Christm.) Swingle), also known as the Mexican lime, West Indian lime or Bartender's lime, has a globose fruit, 2.5-5 cm in diameter (1-2 in), that is yellow when ripe but usually picked green commercially. It is smaller, seedier, has a higher acidity, a stronger aroma, and a thinner rind than that of the more common Persian lime. It is valued for its unique flavor compared to other limes, with the key lime usually having a more tart and bitter flavor. Named after the Florida Keys, it is best known there as the flavoring ingredient in Key lime pie.

C. aurantiifolia is a shrubby tree , to 5 m (16 ft), with many thorns. Dwarf varieties are popular with home growers and can be grown indoors in winter in colder climates. The trunk rarely grows straight, with many branches that often originate quite far down on the trunk. The leaves are ovate 2.5–9 cm (1–3.5 in) long, resembling orange leaves (the scientific name aurantiifolia refers to this resemblance to the leaves of the orange, C. aurantium). The flowers are 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter, are yellowish white with a light purple tinge on the margins. Flowers and fruit appear throughout the year but are most abundant from May to September Template:Ref Template:Ref.

C. aurantiifolia is native to Southeast Asia. Its apparent path of introduction was through the Middle East to North Africa, thence to Sicily and Andalusia and via Spanish explorers to the West Indies, including the Florida Keys. From the Caribbean, lime cultivation spread to tropical and sub-tropical North America, including Mexico, Florida, and later California Template:Ref.

The English name "lime" was derived from the Persian name لیمو Limu in this course.[citation needed] "Key" would seem to have been added some time after the Persian lime cultivar gained prominence commercially in the United States following the hurricane of 1926, which destroyed the bulk of US C. aurantiifolia agriculture, leaving it to grow mostly casually in the Florida Keys Template:Ref Template:Ref. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect, many Key limes on the US market are grown in Mexico and Central America. They are also grown in Texas and California.


  1. Template:Note Alphabetical List of Plant Families with Insecticidal and Fungicidal Properties
  2. Template:Note Citrus aurantiifolia Swingle
  3. Template:Note Citrus aurantiifolia Swingle
  4. Template:Note Citrus aurantiifolia Swingle

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