Desert lime (or lime bush) is a true citrus, with blue-grey leaves and prickles along the branches. It is usually found growing on clay or heavy clay soils, often as clumps of short bushes (2 - 3m in height). They are occasionally found as single large trees to 5-6m in height. Older trees have a weeping appearance and have few, or no, prickles. Limes are common in the southern and western Darling Downs, especially in Brigalow, or cleared Brigalow, country. Limes also grow further west, eg in the Longreach, Blackall and Tambo districts where they are often found along creek lines and on slightly scalded country. The fruit can be picked when still green, and has a pleasantly refreshing and tangy taste. Desert lime fruit is extremely popular and becoming very well known within the bush food industry. The fruit is used in a variety of sauces and jams. Fruit is also used within restaurants. The plant has even been investigated overseas as a potential source of drought hardy rootstock for citrus trees.
The text is from the web-site of the Department of Primary Industries, Queensland, Australia. The photos were kindly sent to me from Australia by visitors to this site.
This is a remarkable plant that grows in arid, near desert conditions, and can survive some frost. However, it is often said to be hardy to -24C.
This is definitely incorrect and arose from an error in the first edition of the reference book 'The Citrus Industry, Vol. 1.'
The book stated cold hardiness to......."ten or more degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-5.5C or lower)". But zero Fahrenheit is far colder than -5,5C!
What was meant was.........................."ten or more degrees below freezing Fahrenheit (-5.5C or lower)". This conversion would have been correct.
The second edition now corrected the wrong part of this error, making the conversion correct but the information wrong.
It claimed hardiness to........................"ten or more degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-24C or lower)."
Evidence from USA confirms plants do not survive freezes of around -10C. It is probably hardy to about -5C in dry conditions.
Here in England, I have grown Eremocitrus glauca from seeds sent from Australia. Sadly, over the years these have all died.
I have also grown seeds sent from the Riverside collection in California, USA. These have proved to be broader-leaved hybrids which I have described elsewhere as 'Eremowhat?'
In 2002 I obtained budwood which first flowered the following year, but no fruits have yet reached maturity.
The pictures here show an example of Citrus glauca growing in the "Parque de los Principes" in Sevilla, Andalucia in southern Spain.
The first two photographs were taken in 1993 by José Manuel Sánchez de Lorenzo Cáceres, and reproduced here with permission. The second pair were taken in 2003 by a friend of mine on holiday. He was of the opinion that the tree was not in a healthy condition. The foliage certainly appeared less dense and more branches could be seen through it. Compare these pictures with the one I took in Riverside, California.
European specimens of any of the Australian native citrus species are rare indeed, but a few do exist. See, for instance, my page about Villa Hanbury.
This map is at the entrance to the park in Seville.
I have maked the tree location with a red dot
I am also growing one named
hybrid, known as Eremolemon.
Click here for details.
Riverside's beautiful weeping tree
Finally, photos of the same tree in Seville were taken for me in 2007 by another friend on holiday.
Again, new growth appears to be confined to clumps near the branch tips.
page revised 11th January 2008
Click here to locate the park with Google Maps