Spanish Lime, Quenepa (Melicoccus bijugatus)
Spanish Lime, Quenepa, Genep or Mamoncillo, is an evergreen or semi-deciduous tree (related to Lychee and Longan) native to northern South America that has naturalized throughout Central America and the Caribbean. It is planted primarily for its edible, green fruits that grow in abundance on the branches from summer through fall.
The flowers bloom in mid to late spring and develop into lime-green fruits. You can tell when they’re ripe when the rind becomes brittle and is easily removed from the sweet orange pulp. It is mainly eaten fresh, but can also be made into juice, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, jam, and syrup. Both fruit and leaves are used in traditional medicines as well for many physical issues and as a pesticide.
Quenepa grows best in full sun to partial shade in deep, calcareous soils. It will naturally grow to 40 feet with a wide-spreading crown in its native habitat, but generally 6 to 12 feet when planted, and can be pruned to a good container size. Spanish Lime trees are male or female, so it’s recommended to plant more than one tree to assure fruit production. They are hardy in USDA zones 9 to 12.