What is a Limequat?

What do you get when you cross a juicy, tart key lime with a cold-hardy, sweet-peel kumquat fruit? You get a limequat:  a delicious, fragrant and cold-hardy citrus fruit with an edible peel! Versatile little limequats are also desirable for their juiciness, and have a sweeter, more orange-like taste than key limes.

Like their parent kumquat, limequats are small, oblong-shaped, and the peel can be eaten along with the fruit. While native to Florida, Limequats are cold hardier than limes, and are gaining in popularity among home gardeners thanks to their ability to produce a lot of fruit each season (which typically runs from mid-fall through March). Besides being very tasty, limequats are an excellent source of vitamin C and folic acid.

Why are key limes used to create limequats?

With so many types of lime available, why were limequats hybridized using key limes? Key limes themselves are a hybrid typically between a Persian lime (also known as a bearss lime) and a mandarin orange. When considering key lime vs lime, the key lime is smaller, seedier and has a brighter aroma and taste than many other types of lime, making it a fabulous flavoring for many recipes. Limequats can be used in place of key limes in key lime pie and offer a unique and flavorful twist on the classic dessert.

Where can I get limequats?

Despite having been around since the early 20th Century, limequats aren’t generally found in commercial markets outside Florida, so you may have to grow your own tree if you’re keen on trying one. A limequat tree is also a great choice for key lime lovers who live in cooler climates, as a limequat tree tends to be more tolerant of cold than a key lime tree thanks to its kumquat ancestry and you can substitute limequats in recipes calling for key limes.

Even a lime tree variety that’s more resistant to frost needs protection from the weather now and then, which is why those living in colder plant hardiness zones are better off going with a dwarf lime tree. Limequat trees are relatively small, usually reaching no taller than 4-8 feet.

Unlike other types of citrus trees (like the Australian finger lime), Limequat tree care is relatively easy so long as trees are kept protected from the cold. The ornamental trees do well in most types of soil and thrive in a container as well as in the ground. They also produce fruit much sooner than will a finger lime tree, which can take years to bear.

If you’re limited on space and not sure what type of citrus tree to plant, you don’t have to give up the idea of adding a limequat tree to your garden – a lemon lime fruit cocktail tree may be the answer. A lemon lime plant is a grafted tree (either full-size or dwarf) on which two different types of related fruit can be grown, and some varieties incorporate limequats with Meyer lemons or limequats with a kaffir lime tree variety.

Can dogs have limes, or would a homegrown limequat tree be harmful to my pet?

Before you look for a lime tree for sale or consider adding a plant of any kind to your home, you might be concerned regarding the welfare of your furry friend. Can dogs eat limes (or other types of lime and citrus), or are they toxic to your pet? The short answer is no: citrus fruit isn’t poisonous to cats and dogs per se, but their high acidity can cause vomiting and diarrhea in your pet, so you might want to keep that in mind before adding a lemon lime plant to your home.

Ready to add a limequat tree to your plant collection?

Due to their “mouth puckering” characteristics, the uses for the limequat are probably better suited for cooking than snacking. Their tart juice and pulp make for some amazing jams and preserves. Limequats can also be used in most other recipes that call for sour lemon flavors and go well in mixed alcohol drinks, or to add a bright flavor to a tall glass of iced tea or iced water.

So, if you’re ready to try the best of two citrus worlds and give your taste buds a lift, add a limequat tree to garden!