Citrus Species, Kaffir Lime, Porcupine Orange, Thai Bai Makrut

Citrus hystrix

Family: Rutaceae (roo-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Citrus (SIT-rus) (Info)
Species: hystrix (HIS-triks) (Info)
Synonym:Citrus auraria
Synonym:Citrus balincolong
Synonym:Citrus boholensis
Synonym:Citrus celebica
Synonym:Citrus combara





Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


Unknown - Tell us


USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Blooms all year

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Petersburg, Alaska

Castro Valley, California

Chualar, California

El Cajon, California

Fremont, California

Lakewood, California

San Diego, California

San Francisco, California

San Leandro, California

Upland, California

Brandon, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Suwanee, Georgia

Hawi, Hawaii

Pukalani, Hawaii

Chicago, Illinois

Boston, Massachusetts

New York City, New York

Nashville, Tennessee

Dallas, Texas

Galveston, Texas

San Marcos, Texas

Spicewood, Texas

Jonesville, Virginia

Walla Walla, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 31, 2016, janelp_lee from Toronto, ON (Zone 6a) wrote:

Often are sold in bundle of twigs with leaves in Asian supermarket. Fruit is acidic and bitter not usually used for eating. But could use the peel after remove the white part. Medicinal.


On May 19, 2011, BlakeYamsley from Chalmette, LA wrote:

I have had my Kaffir Lime for almost 3 months; it was planted on Arbor Day. I put compost and worm castings underneath the potted tree after i removed some of the heavy clay, then I used a cultivator to mix the mediums together. Then, I weeded the area added sand, and tilled again. I cut off the pot, bottom first, and put the 10-gallon tree about 1/3 of the depth of the root mass into the hole. Covering the remainder with the remnants of the surrounding soil and pinebark mulch.
It is very important to fertilize every 3 mos. with established citrus. I got my tree when it was flowering, and i have about 30 or so blossoms, with a handful of developing fruit. I live 5 miles outside of New Orleans, and the tree is happy if you ask me. I just got finished trimming it, ... read more


On Dec 21, 2010, jbwaters from Dallas, TX wrote:

I love this plant. I have had one in a pot for about 12 years now and it is still thriving. Mine fruits and I have been extremely successful with starting new ones from seeds -- i plant them directly from the fruit into moist soil -- about 95% sprouted and are either in the ground or given as gifts. In the summer, I have mine in dappled to direct sun until late afternoon and have positioned it so that I can see the Giant Swallowtails laying their eggs on it from my kitchen window-- their ceterpillars look like bird droppings. My tree is easily big enough to share with them. It doesn't seems to like our Texas sun as much as my Satsuma Orange does.

And despite the fact that the kaffir lime shouldn't survive freezing temps, I planted one in a slightly protected area near m... read more


On Oct 14, 2009, plantoid from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have a dwarf plant in a 31" diameter x 28" high container. It gets some scales and aphids on the undersides of the newer leaves, not on the tender tips or the older leaves, but on the "teenage" leaves. These bugs don't seem to really hurt the plant yet, but if I really need to I can wipe them out with an oil spray in winter. The plant experienced some leaf drop, probably because of under-watering, but the overall health of the tree did not seem to be affected.

The leaves and the rinds are highly aromatic and are perfectly capable of making a dish taste like citrus furniture polish. Use it very sparingly.


On Jan 22, 2008, isvasu from Woodbridge, VA wrote:

This plant can grow as high as 20' . It is a must in "Tom Yum" Thai cooking. USDA does not like this plant especially in Florida where orange are grown.


On Jul 9, 2007, rplingaltx from Galveston, TX wrote:

I have had my kaffir lime since last year. I planted it in the ground where it basically gets full sun all day. It was about 2 feet tall when I planted it and it sent up a crazy shoot shortly thereafter that is about 8 feet tall. We had bad leaf miners last year on all of our citrus here in Galveston, but this year so far none to speak of. I love the way the leaves on this tree are so pungent and that it has such vicious thorns. We did have some light freezing weather this past winter, but the lime was unfazed and never lost any leaves. It has not yet bloomed for me, but I am far more interested in the leaves than the fruit. A very good tree!


On Jul 3, 2007, fortunatefool from New York, NY wrote:

My experience with this plant has been mixed. It thrives with full sunlight and high humidity (approximating its tropical origins). It WILL grow as a container plant at northerly latitudes. However, in the winter time, if placed in a warm (and consequently dry) spot, it becomes extremely susceptible to pests, especially scale and spider mite. Once infested, the plant has to be destroyed to prevent spread. I have found it impossible to eradicate scale and spider mite infestation whose nymphs are microscopic. Once weakened by pests, the plant will experience massive leaf drop and wither away. Consequently quarantine all new plants from prized specimens.

Seedlings and young plants are cold tolerant only to about 45 F or so, so plan appropriately if starting from seed. Smal... read more


On Oct 20, 2006, go2glenn from Suwanee, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have grown a Kaffir Line in a pot on my deck in Georgia (USA) for four years. It is now about 6 feet tall. It comes inside and placed by a sunny window in the winter. Beware of spider mites if you do this! I use the leaves for cooking or give them to my friend's wife who is from Thailand. She also growns a Kaffir Lime. Her tree is also about as tall as mine but a lot more bushy. She fertilizes it with spoiled milk and says it is an old Thai secret. It seems to work nicely!!?? I have observed no blossoms or fruit on either plant as of yet. A source for Kaffir Lime leaves is a must if you are experimenting with Thai recipies. G


On Apr 12, 2006, Silphion from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I think the real attraction of the Kaffir Lime, for me at least, is the ease with which a small investment (~1.00$) can provide all the Kaffir's anyone could possibly want. Go to a grocery store witha generous produce section (I went to New Seasons) and buy 1 Kaffir lime. Now you have about 20 seeds. Clean them up and dry them off (I gave a tap water wash and left them on a paper towel over night) now you have the potoential to have about 8-10 Kaffir tree's. Try the same trick with a Lemon, Lime or Grapefruit...uh, no I guess not, none of those grow true from seed. Unless you just have to have a full sized tree *Right Now* then dont waste your money. I started my seeds last spring and my largest Kaffir is now around 3-4 feet tall. Decient resistance to pests (and I had nearly every ... read more


On Oct 26, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Very popular in Thai and Cambodian cooking as the fruit can be candied or it can be dried and used in curry pastes. The fruits can also be eaten with fish or made into drinks. The dried leaves are used in soups and curries. Only hardy in zones 9 - 10.


On Sep 24, 2004, jnn from Pittsboro, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

We have been fortunate enough to have a Kaffir Lime tree for four years now. It is in a pot as we live in Zone 7 and have to bring it inside during the cold weather. We love to make Thai dishes using the Kaffir leaves. Incredible flavor. Don't let the thorns intimidate you!


On Aug 1, 2004, martina from El Cajon, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Handsome tree, can be made even nicer with a bit of pruning, so far has not failed us in giving at least some harvest every year (we are not at all lucky with other types of limes), yields very aromatic fruit, and on top of that, its leaves have a fine citronella scent when crushed - they can be used in exotic dishes or just to smell and enjoy. Lovely tree, we like it.