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Citrus gracilis, also known as the Kakudu Lime, was first botanically described by David Mabberley in Telopea in 1998, although specimens had been collected as early as 1971. It occurs sporadically in the north of the Northern Territory of Australia, but especially around the margins of Darwin. Before my trip, I could find no reports of anyone successfully propagating this species - no seeds have been found and cuttings do not seem to take.
There were some well-recorded accessable locations for this species. In particular, a group of trees at Sayer Road on the fringes of Darwin is being protected by TENPS (Top End Native Plants Society). I had also heard from a lady who had trees on her property a short distance away. Finally, I had been in contact with a cattle stockman from south of Mataranka (400km south of Darwin) who had some fruiting trees on his cattle station - this being outside the reported range for the species.
Notice at the Sayer Road site
GPS: -12.554711, 131.070255
Sayer Road: Notice how the trunks are bent and twisted and show damaged areas, possibly from past roadside vegetation cutting.
There is a lot of long, thin, thorny, whippy growth along which leaves are fairly sparse.
My first Darwin area visit was to the trees in Sayer Road. Near the junction with the Stuart Highway, they are in the remnant vegetation between the road and a fenced section of private land and consist of several trees up to about 4m tall. They have many criss-crossing spikey branchlets along much of the main stems and often much die-back. There are a number of small suckers, but also several dead plants. I could find no fruit or flowers. The leaves are generally fairly straight and narrow, but possibly with some slightly wider and willow-like at the topmost points.
My second Darwin area visit was to see some Citrus gracilis trees in Bees Creek Road, near the junction with Lowther Rd and less than a kilometre from the Sayer Rd group. The landowner, Sandra, was a member of the Top End 'Land for Wildlife' organisation and had carefully preserved the native flora for several decades. Some years ago she had contacted me to confirm the identification of C. gracilis. The trees here were growing in a much more forested environment and generally looked in better condition. Several had more substantial trunks about 10cms diameter, broader leaves and less of the whippy twig growth. New growth was often virtually thornless. Although Sandra said she had never seen fruit or flowers, I did manage to find one bud and one open flower - so I suspect fruits could be produced here.
10 cms diameter trunk
A single white bud
And one open flower
GPS: -12.556267, 131.060720
page created 25Nov16