Australian Citrus

Australian Citrus

Since restaurants have discovered how delectable many of our native plants are, it has been popular to grow the finger lime Citrus australasica. There are other Australian plants that grow well in our area that belong to the citrus family that can also be recommended eating. The native lime Citrus australis is naturally found in dry rainforest from Beenleigh to Gympie. This large shrub has dark green, aromatic leaves. The white flowers in spring are followed by rounded, green, edible fruit that grow to approximately 6.5 cm.

Citrus australis – Photograph courtesy of Neil Murphy.

Another genus in the citrus family is Acronychia. Unlike Citrus sp., these small trees are thorn-less, and their fruit is smaller and lobed. None the less the fruit of many of these small trees are refreshingly lemony. Two species that are found locally in subtropical and dry rainforest and their edges are A. laevis and A. oblongifolia. Although both are edible, the fruit of the hard aspen A. laevis is less palatable. With its dark, glossy leaves and clusters of creamy-white flowers throughout summer followed by pink/purple angled fruit, this plant is an attractive garden specimen in sunny or partly shaded areas.

The white acronychia A. oblongifolia is another plant suitable for the home garden. Like the hard aspen, the leaves are dotted with oil glands that give off a pleasant aroma when crushed. It too has clusters of white flowers over summer and autumn followed by fleshy white fruit with 4 lobes in late winter and spring. In cultivation it grows best in well drained soil in a sunny or filtered light position. Both species are important food sources for a variety of fruit-eating birds and their use in gardens creates wildlife habitat.

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