St. John Flora: Key Limes (Citrus aurantifolia)

Key Limes
Key Limes

Key limes are probably best known as the main ingredient of key lime pie, originally introduced in the Florida Keys. The tree was brought to the Caribbean by Spanish colonists, and then spread to the warmer areas of North, South and Central America. It has a unique flavor and grows well on St. John.

Key limes have their own special flavor, stronger and more aromatic than the more commonly found Persian lime.

Key limes are picked when green commercially, but left to their own devices they’ll turn yellow and fall off the tree, which gives them added flavor.

The lime tree in the photos was given to me by John Gibney and produces a great deal of fruit each time it blooms. It can survive the harsh conditions on St. John, but it does particularly well when given water during prolonged dry spells.

St. John Flowers: Key Limes
Ripe Key Limes

St. John Virgin Islands Flowers: Lime Harvest
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2 thoughts on “St. John Flora: Key Limes (Citrus aurantifolia)”

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever had a true Key Lime. Would love to try one though,squeezed over some Cruzan Coconut Rum! How long have you had the tree, Gerald? Was it just a twig or an already established tree when you got it? Never knew they turned yellow when they were ripe. Thanks for showing us that.

  2. It was just a little seedling. John Gibney gave it too me. It’s probably close to ten years old now. I’ve sprouted seeds from time to time, potted them and given them away.

    I remember that there’s a nice key lime growing right alongside the Reef Bay Trail.

    I’m drinking a limeade as I write.

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