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Distant citrus relatives


 Distant citrus relatives

Ceylon Atalantia  (Atalantia ceylanica)
Cochin China Atalantia  (Atalantia citroides)
Bael fruit (Aegle marmelos)
Uganda powder-flask fruit  (Balsamocitrus daweii)
Wampee   (Clausena lansium)
Clymenia   (Clymenia polyandra)
Orangeberry (Glycosmis pentaphylla)
Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii)
Mock orange   (Murraya paniculata)

Boxthorn   (Severinia buxifolia)
Limeberry (Triphasia trifoliata)
White Sapote  (Casimiroa edulis)
Mock orange © Forest & Kim Starr       


Glycosmis pentaphylla

Cochin China Atalantia, Atalantia citroides

Clausena lansium, Wampee

Glycosmis pentaphylla

Triphasia trifolia, Limeberry
The citrus subfamily Aurantioideae (in the family Rutaceae) consists of several tribes. The tribes have subtribes, which in turn have genera and species. Most familiar are the six closely related genera in the main subtribe The True Citrus Fruit Trees:

Fortunella (Kumquats),
Eremocitrus (Australian desert lime),
Poncirus (Trifoliate orange),
Clymenia (Clymenia),
Microcitrus (Australian and New Guinean wild limes) and
Citrus (See Introduction,  The Genus Citrus)

There are several other related genera, which belong to the citrus subfamily:

Severinia (Boxthorn) and
Atalantia (Ceylon Atalantia and Cochin China Atalantia) belong to The Citrus Fruit Trees subtribe, whereas

Triphasia (Limeberry) belongs to The Minor Citroid Fruit Trees.

Glycosmis (Orangeberry),
Clausena  (Wampee) and
Murraya (Curry leaf and Mock orange) having very simple, more or less primitive flower and fruit structures belong to The Remote Citroid Fruit Trees subtribe.

Aegle (Bael fruit) and
Balsamocitrus (Uganda Powder-flask fruit) belong to The Hard-Shelled Citroid Fruit Trees.

See also The citrus subfamily table.

LAT Atalantia ceylanica  (Arn.) Oliv. Ceylon Atalantia, Atalantia ceylonica

Ceylon Atalantia, Atalantia ceylonica

Ceylon Atalantia
(Atalantia ceylanica) is a small to large shrub originally from southern India. Atalantia has short, stout spines and oval-oblong shaped leaves. It has small, white, fragrant flowers that are borne in clusters followed by berries about 15 cm in diameter.

Atalantia ceylanica
is remarkable for its nearly dry fruits, with the very few pulp-vesicles almost crowded out by the large, plump seeds that almost completely fill the locules. 
The berry is 1/2-3/4 in. [13-19 mm] in diametre with 2-4-seeds.

Cultivated variety: Ceylan (Sri Lanka)

ENG  Ceylon Atalantia
FRA  Atalantia de Ceylan
Photos    © UC-Riverside Citrus Collection

LAT Atalantia citroides Pierre ex Guill. Cochin China Atalantia, Atalantia citroides

Cochin China Atalantia, Atalantia citroides

The Cochin China Atalantia grows to be a medium-sized tree, 5 to 10 m high, and is probably larger and more vigorous than any other species of the subgenus Atalantia. The tree has 5 mm long spines, the leaves are ovate 5-9 X 2-4 cm.

Flowers have four ovate petals. The fruit resemble small oranges about 20 mm in diameter, with a rough peel and the flesh formed of succulent pulp-vesicles. The seeds are ellipsoid, about 10 mm long.


ENG  Cochin China Atalantia
Photos    © UC-Riverside Citrus Collection
© Jardín Mundani
Link Mundani Botanical Garden     

LAT Aegle marmelos  (L.) J. F. Corrêa    Aegle marmelos, Bael fruit
Aegle marmelos, Bael fruit
Aegle marmelos, Bael fruit
Indian Bael Fruit
(Aegle marmelos) belongs to the Hard-Shelled Citroid Fruit Trees subtribe and is a native of India and widely cultivated in southeastern Asia. The tree can reach 12 metres (40 feet) in its native habitat. Aegle leaves are trifoliate and the twigs are very thorny.

The tree grows wild in dry forests on hills and plains of central and southern India and Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh, also in mixed forests of former French Indochina. Mention has been found in writings dating back to 800 B.C. It is cultivated throughout India, mainly in temple gardens, because of its status as a sacred tree; also in Ceylon and northern Malaya, the drier areas of Java, and to a limited extent on northern Luzon in the Philippine Islands.

The fruit has a very hard woody outer shell that usually takes a hammer or large rock to break open. Inside the fruit surrounding the hairy seeds, is a very thick clear syrup-like pulp.

In India, the ripe fruit is made into a drink and it also possesses a laxative quality. Aegle has adapted to both tropical and cool climates, enduring temperatures of - 8 degrees C (17.5 F).

One esteemed, large cultivar with thin rind and few seeds is known as 'Kaghzi'.  Rated the best is  'Mitzapuri', with very thin rind, breakable with slight pressure of the thumb, pulp of fine texture, free of gum, of excellent flavor, and containing few seeds. Other well-known cultivars include: 'Darogaji', 'Ojha', 'Rampuri', 'Azamati' and 'Khamaria'.

ENG  Bael fruit, Indian Bael fruit
FRA  Pomme du Bengale
Photos    (1) © Saga Univ. Dept of Agriculture
© UC-Riverside Citrus Collection

LAT Balsamocitrus daweii  Dawe Balsamocitrus daweii, Uganda powder-flask fruit
Balsamocitrus daweii, Uganda powder-flask fruit
Balsamocitrus daweii, Uganda powder-flask fruit

Uganda powder-flask fruit
(Balsamocitrus daweii) is in the Hard-Shelled Citroid Fruit Trees subtribe known as Bael fruit. The fruits always have 8 locules filled with many seeds in a liquid balsamic jelly, pulp scarce
, no vesicles, and a hard, woody outer shell. The leaves are always trifoliate and the twigs are terribly thorny. This remarkable Citrus relative is native to the plateau of Uganda, East Africa, to the east of Lake Albert, at altitudes of 600 to 915 meters (2,000 to 3,000 ft.), where it attains a height of about 25 meters (82 feet). 

In California, the Balsamocitrus becomes about 20 feet tall and is very productive.

The fruit are grapefruit-sized and hard shelled similar in overall appearance to the bael fruit. The flesh is edible and has an  aromatic scent.

ENG Uganda powder-flask fruit
FRA Uganda powder-flask
I TA  
Photos    © UC-Riverside Citrus Collection
(2,3) © Tradewinds Fruit

LAT Clausena lansium Skeels Wampee, Clausena lansium
Wampee, Clausena lansium
Wampee, Clausena lansium
Wampee, Clausena lansium
Syn Clausena wampi (Blanco), D. Oliver
Clausena punctata (Sonn.), Rehd. & E.H. Wils.
Cookia punctata Sonn.
Cookia wampi Blanco
Quinaria lansium Lour.
   Wampee, Clausena lansium, belongs to the Remote Citroid Fruit Trees and is a minor member of the Rutaceae and a distant relative of the citrus fruits. The wampee tree is fairly fast-growing or rather slow, depending on its situation; attractive, reaching 20 ft (6 m), with long, upward-slanting, flexible branches. The sweet-scented, 4- to 5-parted flowers are whitish or yellowish-green. The fruits hang in showy, loose clusters of several strands.

The wampee may be round, or conical-oblong, up to 1 in (2.5 cm) long. The wampee is native and commonly cultivated in southern China and the northern part of former French Indochina, especially from north to central Vietnam. It is cultivated to a limited extent in Queensland, Australia and Hawaii. It was brought to Florida as an unidentified species in 1908.

A fully ripe, peeled wampee, of the sweet or subacid types, is agreeable to eat out-of-hand, discarding the large seed or seeds. The seeded pulp can be added to fruit cups, gelatins or other desserts, or made into pie or jam. Jelly can be made only from the acid types when under-ripe. The Chinese serve the seeded fruits with meat dishes.

In Southeast Asia, a bottled, carbonated beverage resembling champagne is made by fermenting the fruit with sugar and straining off the juice.

Seven varieties of Wampee are known in southern China:

'Niu Shen' ("cow's kidney") – sour in flavor;
'Yuan Chung' ("globular variety") – sweet-subacid;
'Yeh Sheng' ("wild growing") – sour;
'Suan Tsao' ("sour jujube") – very sour, of poor quality;
'Hsiao Chi Hsien' ("small chicken heart") – sweet subacid;
'Chi Hsin' ("chicken heart") – sweet; "best flavor of all";
'Kua Pan' ("melon section") – sweet-subacid.
ENG Wampee, Wampi
FRA Wampee
Photos    (1) © Forest & Kim Starr
(2,3) © Tradewinds Fruit

(4) © CINHP / G.McCormack,
with permission

LAT Clymenia polyandra (Tanaka) Swingle Clymenia polyandra

Clymenia polyandra
Citrus polyandra Tanaka

The twigs of Clymenia are spineless and the leaves are very peculiar, being elliptical, acuminate at both ends, with the base merging into a very short, slender, wingless petiole which is not articulated or in any way marked off from the blade.  The flowers are produced singly in the axils of the leaves, petals short and broad (7 x 7 mm); stamens very numerous (50-100) in many whorls, with short filaments (5 mm). Fruit are lemon-shaped, 4.5 x 6-7 cm, with a short nipple at the apex; pulp sweet; seeds numerous. Tanaka deserves the credit for having first noticed the great divergence of this plant in many of its essential taxonomic characters from any other of the known True Citrus Fruit Trees. However, he considered it to be a hybrid of Citrus macroptera and Citrus medica.

This species, called a-mulis by the natives in the village of Namatanai in New Ireland, is cultivated for its sweet fruits.

ENG Clymenia
Photos    © Saga Univ. Dept of Agriculture

LAT Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz.) Corrêa
Orange berry, Glycosmis pentaphylla

Orange berry, Glycosmis pentaphylla

Orange berry, Glycosmis pentaphylla
Limonia pentaphylla Retz.
Glycosmis citrifolia Lindl.
Murraya cerasiformis Blanco
Murraya exotica Blanco (non L.)
Murraya lobata Blanco
Glycomis cochinchnesis Pierre
Glycosmis angularis Elm.
Glycosmis greenie Elm.

(Glycosmis pentaphylla) is a thornless shrub or small tree native to southeastern Asia and northeastern Australia. In California, this species fruits and flowers nearly year round. It has tiny white flowers followed by translucent pink to red berries about the size of a marble, held in small grape-like clusters. 

The stems are reported to be largely used as toothbrushes in eastern Bengal on account of their fibrous nature and slightly astringent, bitter taste. Their constant use is said not only to clean teeth but also to keep them strong.

This genus, Glycosmis, belongs to the Remote Citroid Fruit Trees subtribe and includes a large number of very closely related thornless shrubs or small trees ranging from southeastern Asia and the East Indies to northern Australia.  Five species have uniformly unifoliolate leaves; two have regularly trifoliolate leaves; and several have leaves with five leaflets; two or three species occasionally have as many as 13 to 15 leaflets. 

ENG Orangeberry, Rum Berry, Gin Berry, Ash sheora
FRA Glycosmis chinois
Photos    © UC-Riverside Citrus Collection
(3) © Saga Univ. Dept of Agriculture

LAT Murraya koenigii  (L.) Sprengel Murraya koenigii, Curry leaf
Murraya koenigii, Curry leaf

Curry Leaf
(Murraya koenigii) is an evergreen, small to medium-sized tree from India. Leaves are compound with five to ten pairs of leaflets. The leaves of this species are used in making curry dishes and give them a very agreeable flavor.

The tree bears clusters of white flowers at the branch terminals, followed by small pea-sized black berries. In the desert, butterflies have been seen swarming the tree when it is in full bloom.

ENG Curry leaf
FRA Feuille de curry
Photos    © Tradewinds Fruit

LAT Murraya paniculata  (L.) Jack. Mock orange, Murray paniculata
Mock orange, Murray paniculata
Mock orange, Murray paniculata

Murraya exotica L.

Murraya paniculata
(L.) Jack. var. exotica (L.) Huang
Chalcas exotica (L.) Millsp.

Mock orange
(Murraya paniculata), also called Orange Jessamine, Chinese box and Mock lime, is a tropical, evergreen plant
growing up to 7 metres bearing small, white, scented flowers. It is a native of South Asia and Southeast Asia and is now pantropical, growing in northern Australia, southern China and Taiwan and the southern USA. Mock orange makes a fine-textured, medium-sized shrub, with an upright and spreading, compact habit and dense crown of glossy green leaves. The shrub is well-suited to shearing into a formal hedge or screen and can take on a boxwood-like effect in a formal garden. The small, orange-blossom scented white flowers and small, red berries appear throughout much of the year. It is difficult to walk within 3 metres of this plant in flower and not notice the fragrance. The fruit of Murraya paniculata is fleshy, oblong-ovoid, coloured red to orange, and grows up to 2 ½ cm (1 inch) in length. The berries are attractive to birds and the flowers attractive to bees.

ENG Mock orange, Mock lime, Jasmine orange, Orange jessamine
FRA Bois satin, Orange Jasmin
SPA Naranjo jazmín
Photos    (1,2) © Forest & Kim Starr
(3) © CINHP / G.McCormack,
with permission

LAT Severinia buxifolia  (Poir.)Ten.  Severinia buxifolia, Boxthorn

Severiania buxifolia, Chinese Box orange
Atalantia buxifolia (Poir.)Oliv. 

Citrus buxifolia Poir.
Limonia bilocularis Roxb.

Sclerostylis atalantioides Wight & Arn.

, a dense, low-branching, compact evergreen shrub has small, oval, glossy, dark green leaves closely spaced on slender, thorny branches. Small, white, fragrant, orange-like  blossoms in spring and summer are followed by shining black, seedy berries. Growth rate is very slow.

Boxthorn works well as a sheared hedge, barrier, or foundation shrub. Only one pruning is needed each year once the plant has reached the desired height. Tolerant of most welldrained soils, Boxthorn needs regular watering until established. Although Boxthorn will grow in shade, it has more compact,
dense growth in full sun. The plant is not widely available, perhaps due to its slow growth rate.

The cultivars ‘Compacta’ and `Nana’ have dwarf growth habits.

Cultivar: Chinese (China)

ENG  Boxthorn, Chinese Box orange
FRA  Buis de Chine
Photos    © Jardín Mundani
Link Mundani Botanical Garden   

LAT Triphasia trifoliata (Burm. f.) P. Wilson Triphasia trifolia, Limeberry
Triphasia trifolia, Limeberry

(Triphasia trifoliata) from Southeastern Asia can be grown as a shrub,vine or small tree. It has dark green, glossy, trifoliate leaves. The white flowers are very fragrant, and are followed by small, round, red fruits. Although Limeberry is very thorny, it can make an attractive slow-growing ornamental.

ENG Limeberry, Myrtle lime
Photos    © UC-Riverside Citrus Collection

LAT Casimiroa edulis Llave. Casimiroa edulis, White Sapote

Casimiroa edulis, White Sapote

Casimiroa edulis, White Sapote

Casimiroa edulis, White Sapote
White Sapote
(Casimiroa edulis) does not belong to the Orange Subfamily Citroideae (Aurantioideae) but to the closest subfamily Toddalioideae of the Rutaceae family. Therefore it is strictly speaking
not a citrus fruit tree, but it is related to citrus trees and included here because of its commercial importance.

The common white sapote occurs both wild and cultivated in central Mexico. It is planted frequently in Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica and is occasionally grown in northern South America, the Bahamas, West Indies, along the Riviera and other parts of the Mediterranean region, India and the East Indies. It is grown commercially in the Gisborne district of New Zealand and to some extent in South Africa.

Apple sized fruit with white or yellow creamy, custardy pulp that has an excellent sweet banana flavor. White sapote's are well known throughout much of Central America and Mexico.

A medium to large tree which can grow up to 50+ feet high. The small flowers are formed in large groups and may occur off and on a few times per year, with fruit ripening 6-8 months later. There are green skinned varieties, yellow skinned varieties, and many in between. Pick fruits as they begin to soften, but do not wait too long as fallen fruits tend to smash when they drop due to their soft flesh. Mature trees can produce hundreds of pounds of fruit every year. They are planted as shade for coffee plantations in Central America.

Uses: Fruits are excellent when eaten ripe. Unripe fruits have a bitter taste, and flesh very near the skin can sometimes have a bitter taste. Usually the flesh is scooped out with a spoon and eaten raw. The flesh of ripe fruits may be added to fruit cups and salads or served alone as dessert, but it is best cut into sections and served with cream and sugar. Sometimes it is added to ice cream mix or milk shakes, or made into marmalade. Even in their countries of origin, where the fruits may at times appear in markets, their repute is due largely to a belief in their therapeutic value, while, at the same time, there prevails a fear that over-indulgence may be harmful.

White Sapote's prefer a climate with moderate humidity, though trees have performed well in high-humidity area such as Hawaii. It colder areas, white sapotes do well in sunny locations, it warmer areas shade may be provided. Water often, although trees can withstand short periods of drought. White sapote's have large tap root systems that require deep soil. Only trees with trimmed roots (or cuttings) can be container grown.

The white sapotes can be classed as subtropical rather than tropical. Casimiroa edulis is usually found growing naturally at elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 ft (600-900 m) and occasionally in Guatemala up to a maximum of 9,000 ft (2,700 m) in areas not subject to heavy rainfall. In California, light frosts cause some leaf shedding but otherwise do not harm the tree. Mature trees have withstood temperature drops to 20º F (-6.67º C) in California and 26º F (-3.33º C) in Florida without injury.

ENG White Sapote
SPA Zapote blanco
Photos      © Tradewinds Fruit

Page up-dated 20 November 2009

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