Botanical name: Citrus limon "Rosso"
Ideal location & conditions: Full sun and protect from temperatures below -3c
Size after 5 years: 1m x 75cm
Soil: Free draining soil-based compost such as John Innes No3 with additional grit and stone.
Flower colour: Creamy white with yellow centres when fully opened
Flowering period: June - November
Fruit harvest period: November - April
The fruit with three names!
It’s not often that that the same plant is given three different names, but Citrus limonia Rosso does! (depending in which part of the world you are standing).
A cross between the Mandarin Orange and Citrus limon, it has a taste much more akin to a lime than either of its parents. So much so in fact, that in South America it’s used as a lime substitute, and in Central Asia it is known as the Rangpur Lime.
The great Victorian naturalist, Joseph Hooker, came across it during one of his plant collecting exploits in India, and so impressed was he with its refreshing attributes that he sent trees back to Charles Darwin.
The Mandarin Lime (yet another of its names), is a compact citrus and due to its hardiness (which will see it withstand temperatures down to -6c), makes it a very suitable variety for growing in planters on the terrace or balcony. It produces a mass of small white flowers, which give off a very strong scent during the Spring through until late Summer. The fruits, which are about the size of a snooker-ball, ripen from late winter until late Spring. The skin is dark orange and rather speckled, whilst the flesh is bright orange.
Rangpur Limes, (that’s our favourite name for this fantastic fruit) have loads of uses. From accompanying traditional Tequila Shots or making a superb Summer Lime and Tequila Soda (which cheers up any summer afternoon!), to making wonderful marmalade that would impress even Paddington.
A useful tip for the marmalade (or indeed for late August or September tequilas, if that takes your fancy!) - the fruits of the Citrus limonia Rosso will start ripening in late winter, but not altogether like an apple or pear tree does. Now, it’s not worth making just one pot of marmalade as it will be gone by breakfast the next morning, so you need quite a few fruits. But don’t fear - we have come up with a cunning plan! Pick the fruits as they ripen and either slice them (or place them whole in bags if that's easier) before popping them into the freezer compartment. They keep perfectly for about three months. That way you have enough fruits to make several jars. Of course, you can do the same thing for your Summertime Tequila - take out a slice at a time. Perfect!
Enjoy our lovely Citrus limonia Rosso. And remember, “It’s so good they named it thrice!”
Five reasons to plant a Citrus limonia Rosso:
• It has three names!
• Hardy and can withstand low temperatures
• Produces masses of small white fragrant flowers
• Makes the most delicious marmalade!
• Enjoy a slice in your Summertime Tequila - cheers!