In the Arboretum Today
By Alfredo Chiri
CALAMONDIN Citrofortunella mitis var. 'Variegata' - Rutaceae
Donated by: CRFG/ Dave Gordon planted in 1984 (r.f.-02)
Common names: Calamondin, Calamondin Orange Panama Orange
The calamondin is a small tree with upright branches, leaves broadly oval and pale green below like those of the kumquat. The fruit is small, depressed, globose and deep orange-yellow when ripe, loose-skinned and, segmented. The pulp is very acid. The seeds are very few and small.
The tree is a native to the Philippines, and it is said that it is an acid citrus, a group that includes lemons and limes. Some people can't quite put a finger on what to make or how to use this fruit --- it does not look like a lime, nor a lemon, nor an orange. One bite of this fruit can pucker your mouth. The fruit, when ripe, is very sour when first tasted. Subsequent tasted fruits make your mouth sweet. If the fruit is picked too soon, it is bitter. It is believed that the calamondin is a
hybrid between Citrus reticulata and Fortunella margarita.
In many Latin countries the calamondin plant is found in backyards, and the fruit is called 'agri-dulce' (sweet and sour). It is known by the botanical name of Citrus mitis Blanco and is considered a good remedy for the 'grippe' (cold). Horticulturists believe that the Calamondin is a
hybrid of lime and mandarin, or lime and kumquat, or kumquat and mandarin.
The early name of the fruit was given the botanical name of Citrus madurensis loureiro by a man named Loureiro who found this unusual fruit on the island of Madura, near Java. Later it was changed to the new classification.
A man named Lathrop introduced this unusual fruit, the calamondin, in Florida in 1899 with a name 'acid orange.' Later, a man named Fairchild, who came from Panama, introduced it as 'Panama orange.' The fruit had come to Chile as a stock for mandarin oranges, and from Chile went to Panama.
Calamondin is a dual-purpose tree. One is it's ornamental value; two, it has a very useful fruit. The juice, with its high vitamin C content, is used to make beverages, to flavor fish, to make cakes, pies, marmalades, and teas. The number of uses of the Calamondin fruit can be limited only by your own imagination.
Propagation is done by tip cuttings rather than seed planting. Most of the seeds of the variegata variety are infertile. Cuttings of new growth are dipped in rooting hormone and placed in a perlite-peatmoss mixture and kept evenly moist (not wet) in direct light. The cuttings should root in 1 to 2 months.
Calamondin plants prefer well-drained soils that are kept moist and in full sun. Plants are susceptible to chlorosis, provoked by lack of calcium and magnesium. Calamondin makes an excellent rootstock for the oval or Nagami kumquat.