Kaffir, Makrut Lime (Citrus hystrix)

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Kaffir lime is essential to the ever-expanding palette of foodies everywhere. This citrus tree is characteristic of other lime varieties with its thorny, shrubby growth that can reach up to 25 feet when mature. As a native to Southeast Asia, Kaffir lime makes an awesome patio plant for Floridians living outside of Zone 10 or below. When taken indoors, Kaffir Lime benefits from the use of a mister to mimic its humid natural habitat.

Unlike more conventional culinary uses for limes, Kaffir lime leaves are used more often than the fruit in cooking. The two-parted evergreen leaves are shredded to add flavors to Southeast Asian food dishes, giving them a uniquely aromatic twist. Think anywhere from soups, to spicy stir-fry, hot curries, salads, and meat marinades. The fruits are bumpy, and about the size of golf balls. The pulp and juice can be used for additional flavoring, but it is less common than using the leaves.

Here is a list of all other popular names for Kaffir Lime and their countries of origin:

  • Burma: shauk-nu, shauk-waing
  • Cambodia: krauch soeuch
  • China: ning meng ye (Mandarin), fatt-fung-kam (Cantonese), Thài-kok-kam (Hokkien/Min Nan)
  • Indonesia: jeruk purut, jeruk limo, jeruk sambal
  • Laos: makgeehoot
  • Malaysia: limau purut
  • Philippines: Kubot
  • Reunion Island: combava
  • Sri Lanka: kahpiri dehi, odu dehi, kudala-dehi
  • Thailand: makrut, som makrud

Planting, cultural care, pruning, and harvesting are similar for all citrus plants, with a few slight variations. Generally, they are best planted in filtered sun with well-drained soil that can hold moisture and nutrients. Citrus trees a particularly high demand for nitrogen. If you’re fantasizing about long afternoons of picking fresh fruit from your personal citrus grove, keep this in mind: The key to growing citrus is setting it up for success from the start.

Plant Type:
Subtropical Evergreen Fruit Tree

Harvest Season:
Winter, Spring, Year-round

Main citrus fruit production will take place in late winter through spring, but may produce throughout the year

Mature Size:
7-30 ft

Mature size varies by citrus tree type. Overall, citrus varieties can be grown in containers and maintained at smaller sizes.

Soil & Moisture:
Well-drained, high fertility and good moisture-holding capacity; High nitrogen demands. Regular watering throughout the first year and throughout flowering and fruiting season.

Light Requirements:
Full Sun, Part Shade

Overall, citrus prefers slightly shady areas and has better fruit production in part shade lighting conditions.


Growth Rate:

Zone Hardiness:
Outdoors 8-11; Patio/Greenhouse 4+

Although their fruit provides a distinctly tropical twist to any drink or dish, Citrus trees trees are actually very cold hardy fruit trees, taking temperatures down to the low 20's!

Grafted and capable of producing fruit within 1 year.

See More:
Sow Exotic offers many different unique varieties of Citrus trees. Shop the Citrus Collection!

Dig Deeper

Sweet, tangy, juicy citrus fruit is more than just a delicious snack or an essential ingredient in your Sunday afternoon mimosas!

Citrus (especially oranges) is an amazing source of Vitamin C, an essential vitamin that helps prevent and treat the common cold/upper respiratory infections and improve heart health. Your body can’t make vitamin C on its own so you need to get it from fruits like citrus, fresh vegetables, berries, etc.

Shop All Citrus Varieties