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The kaffir lime (Citrus × hystrix, Rutaceae) is also known as combava, kieffer lime, limau purut,[2] jeruk purut or makrut lime, Kabuyao (Cabuyao).[1] It is a lime native to Indochinese and Malesian ecoregions in India, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and adjacent countries. It is used in Southeast Asian cuisine.


Citrus × hystrix is a thorny bush with aromatic and distinctively shaped “double” leaves. The kaffir lime is a rough, bumpy green fruit. The green lime fruit is distinguished by its bumpy exterior and its small size (approx. 4 cm wide).



The rind of the kaffir lime is commonly used in Lao and Thai curry paste, adding an aromatic, astringent flavor. The zest of the fruit is used in creole cuisine and to impart flavor to “arranged” rums in the Martinique, Réunion island and Madagascar.

The leaves can be used fresh or dried, and can be stored frozen. Its hourglass-shaped leaves (comprising the leaf blade plus a flattened, leaf-like leaf-stalk or petiole) are widely used in Thai[3] and Lao cuisine (for dishes such as tom yum), and Cambodian cuisine (for the base paste “Krueng”). The leaves are used in Indonesian cuisine (especially Balinese cuisine and Javanese cuisine), for foods such as sayur asam, and are used along with Indonesian bay leaf for chicken and fish. They are also found in Malaysian[4] and Burmese cuisines.


The juice and rinds are used in traditional Indonesian medicine; for this reason the fruit is referred to in Indonesia as jeruk obat (“medicine citrus”). The oil from the rind has strong insecticidal properties. The juice is generally regarded as too acidic to use in food preparation, but finds use as a cleanser for clothing and hair in Thailand.


Citrus x hystrix is grown worldwide in suitable climates as a garden shrub for home fruit production. It is well suited to container gardens and large garden pots on patios, terraces, and in conservatories.

Main constituents

The compound responsible for the characteristic aroma was identified as (–)-(S)-citronellal, which is contained in the leaf oil up to 80%; minor components are citronellol (10%), nerol and limonene.

From a stereo­chemical point of view, it is remarkable that kaffir lime leaves contain only (–)-(S)-citronellal, whereas the enantiomeric form (+)-(R)-citronellal is found in both lemon balm and (to a lesser degree) lemon grass, (note, however, that citronellal is only a trace component in the latter’s essential oil).

Kaffir lime fruit peel contains an essential oil comparable to lime fruit peel oil; main components are limonene and β-pinene.


WASHINGTON, June 17, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing an interim rule announcing a plant quarantine in several states and territories in the United States to stop the spread of citrus greening, a plant disease that greatly reduces citrus production, destroys the economic value of the fruit and can kill trees. The interim rule replaces all previous federal orders related to citrus greening, expands areas under quarantine, allows additional treatment options and provides exemptions for certain fully processed products, such as curry leaves and kaffir leaves. [5]

Written on June 8th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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    Narin commented

    I’ve been reading about the legal status of kaffir lime plants in the US and felt a bit sorry for people who want to use it in their cooking but find only dry leaves are available. I think people might find this solution helpful: essential oil made in Thailand from fresh kaffir lime leaves. The oil doesn’t carry any bacteria or poses any threat to other citrus trees. See more details on our website if youre interested.

    11 June 2012 at 13:55

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