12 Aug2010


These are probably two of the most expensive makrut limes on the planet. Nearly 10 years ago, we planted a kaffir/makrut lime plant in our garden, and year after year we watched it grow into a scraggly tree, some 12-14 feet in height by now. We have used its leaves often, and even managed to marcot a half dozen plants from the main plant. It has survived storms, blights of all kinds and has faithfully clung to life in a relatively sunny corner of the garden. Never once did I notice a flower on this tree, and at least on one occasion I think I mentioned on this blog that it must be barren due to a lack of amorous neighbors of the right genetic provenance. So Mang J, the part-time gardener has lavished it with care and attention for nearly a decade, unable to coax it to bear fruit.


Then a couple of weeks ago, lo and behold, two wonderful medium sized makrut limes were spotted amongst the lime leaves which are now mixed in with a bushy bougainvilla plant next to it. After a few more days, the little knobbly wonders fell off in strong breezes and they have been on my desk since. They have a wonderful scent and I am trying to decide how best to use the rind and in what dish… There is just something so amazing about enjoying the fruits of your own garden, even if my physical toil for them was limited to talking to the tree every couple of weeks from my desk in the den nearby, asking it when it might ever bear fruit. Well, it listened. And after 10 years of watering, fertilizing, pruning and zhugging, this stunning pair of spectacular makrut limes. They are of almost identical weight and size, perfect for a bizarre pair of earrings for a formal dinner at a gathering of botanists, in lieu of massive emeralds. Oh, and I just spotted one more lime in the foliage for use a week or two from now… :)




  1. miles says:

    congratulations MM! am also planning to cultivate kaffir limes myself at least for our home garden :)

    Aug 12, 2010 | 7:02 pm


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  3. marilen says:

    The morale of the story – never give up! We had a scraggly dogwood tree in the garden (after 30 years) it now provides us with the most beautiful bower of loveliness in the spring.

    Aug 12, 2010 | 7:35 pm

  4. Footloose says:

    Makrut lime is an object lesson in the danger of judging things by their appearance. People who are turned off by its craggy complexion will never get to know its lovely unique scent. Mother did not take it against plants which did not respond to her care. Reticent orchid plants that never flower get relegated to the bottom of our garden where it took Pinatubo’s fallout to trigger their spectacular bloom.

    They look uncommonly large in your pictures.

    Aug 12, 2010 | 8:10 pm

  5. marissewalangkaparis says:

    I can smell it here ..ha ha. Kaffir leaves are so useful too… congrats for your patience…

    Aug 12, 2010 | 8:11 pm

  6. natie says:

    wonderful!!! great things come to those who wait…

    Aug 12, 2010 | 8:39 pm

  7. rose says:

    hi MM , i have a kaffir plant too. i am in the process of marcoting.hopefully it’ll be a success. i dream my plant will bear fruit too!!when, i went to canada last march for 2 months,nobody took care of it. my heart broke when i saw it when i got back… it was almost dying!!, the leaves are almost gone, the ones left are yellow na……i constantly monitored it…watering and putting fertilizer… now, it’s greener with so mny new leaves…!!!

    Aug 12, 2010 | 8:39 pm

  8. Nicole says:

    congrats! Mm your patience finally paid off!
    I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeves for those lovely beauties!

    Aug 12, 2010 | 9:45 pm

  9. sunflowii says:

    so the leaves grow from a number 8 shape to a regular single leaf?

    Aug 12, 2010 | 10:02 pm

  10. Connie C says:

    Would the zest be too aromatic to flavor leche flan? or a pound cake?

    The juice can be squeezed into the soup just before serving tom yum? and the leaves, I’d crush them into a potpourri jar or vessel.

    MM, I am jealous. I may not be around to see my makrut bear fruit as I planted it just 2 years ago, if it behaves like yours.

    Aug 12, 2010 | 10:34 pm

  11. Joy says:

    That looks great. It is wonderful you were able to grow those.

    Aug 12, 2010 | 10:49 pm

  12. Manny says:

    MM, I also have a Kaffir lime tree and have plenty of fruits. Kaffir limes grow well in northern part of Florida. Anyway, I use the fruits mainly for their juice and make kaffir limeade. The flavor/taste is very intense and for my taste, much better than lemonade.
    Another use for the fruit is garnish on my favorite adult drink…’gin and tonic’. Very aromatic and it adds more zing on the drink as compared to regular lime.

    Aug 13, 2010 | 12:44 am

  13. alilay says:

    the peach tree in the apt. i manage bore fruit 2 years ago got excited and watered the 2 trees everyday checking on the fruits and then one day i saw them on the ground the fruit bats or squirrels got to it first and i have not taken a picture yet, hmppp but am excited again as our neighbor’s jujube tree is laden with fruits, will take picture on sunday.

    Aug 13, 2010 | 2:03 am

  14. F1foodie says:

    Congratulations MM and Mang J!!! This post definitely deserves the three exclamation points… I know how you feel. :)

    Aug 13, 2010 | 2:20 am

  15. atbnorge says:

    Congratulations for such lovely fruits.
    Hope she’ll give you more fruits next year.

    Aug 13, 2010 | 3:14 am

  16. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Satisfaction…glad you got there. Hope you can make up your mind on how you are going to enjoy. I would have a hard time deciding myself. My calamansi and apple-pear continue to grow, but yet to bear fruit. That’s just as well. We’re facing a recent fruit fly infestation.

    Aug 13, 2010 | 5:15 am

  17. Mike says:

    My lola used to put dayap zest to flavor her oh so yummy leche flan. I wonder if this fruit would be a good substitute.

    Aug 13, 2010 | 7:03 am

  18. Marketman says:

    Mike, if you want to replicate your lola’s leche flan, simply use the zest of KEY LIMES which are nearly identical to dayap. Kaffir or makrut limes have a slightly different fragrance and taste but would also probably work nicely. Getter Dragon1, I have always considered myself to have a black thumb, so I admire plants from at least 2 feet away or they die on me… hahaha. F1foodie, I know, three exclamation points is major! Manny, those uses sound great… over here, the makruts tend to be a little less juicy, and often, only the zest is used… Connie C, a decade more, a decade more… :) sunflowii, no the leaves remain an “8” or double leaf (I can’t think of the scientific description for that), it’s just that the third photo has the kaffir branch smack into a bougainvilla bush as well… rose, the marcoting seems to work pretty well… footloose, these are a pretty normal size, say an inch and a half long, the close-up photo may have been misleading…

    Aug 13, 2010 | 7:49 am

  19. Maricel says:

    Sometimes a little intimidation works too! Our Palawan cherry has been around for ages and refuses to flower. One day my Mom said to it – If you still do not give us flowers, I will have you chopped down. Lo and behold – it finally flowered during the next season.:)

    Aug 13, 2010 | 8:42 am

  20. Tina says:

    i’m jealous :) your patience paid off mm! i want a kaffir plant and a lemon tree :)

    Aug 13, 2010 | 11:21 am

  21. Lemons and Anchovies (Jean) says:

    Congrats! I had a similar experience with my kalamansi tree. I planted it 3-4 years ago, would flower but wouldn’t bear any fruit despite my and the gardener’s TLC. This year, however, I’ve had a couple of mini-harvests and it’s looking healthier than ever!

    Aug 13, 2010 | 11:22 am

  22. jakbkk says:

    Congrats!!!! masarap pang TOM YUM yan…i miss authentic Thai food now….(15++ year Thai veteran)

    Aug 13, 2010 | 2:59 pm

  23. Mel Wood says:

    Good on you MM! I have a two-year-old kaffir lime plant too but it is languishing inside the hothouse. I fear it would be eaten by frost so I planted it in a big plastic garden bag so I could move it in and out during summer and winter. I think it is beginning to outgrow the garden bag now but I don’t know what to do with it. Having successfully grown one yourself, do you think I can plant it on the ground outside of the hothouse now?

    Aug 13, 2010 | 3:51 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    Mel, apparently kaffir/makrut limes are sensitive to frost, so leaving outdoors might lead to its demise…

    Aug 13, 2010 | 4:07 pm

  25. Mimi says:

    MM: was ‘over a decade’ from seed to tree? That means our kaffir ‘bush’ just two years old will bear fruit when my baby becomes a teenager… To enjoy your kaffir zest for a long time mix it with a batch of homemade red curry paste, which then can be savoured as tom yam, satay, and many thai dishes.

    Aug 13, 2010 | 9:09 pm

  26. millet says:

    there is hope for my 8-year old lemon tree, after all!

    maricel, you’re so right. we have two durian trees that just kept growing taller and shedding more leaves, and after more than ten years of waiting, we finally decided to have them cut and replaced with mangosteen trees. we asked a neighbor’s gardener to check out the trees and scheduled the cutting to take place a month later as it was a busy month for us. lo and behold, within two weeks, we saw buds and flowers all over! now our durian trees are super-prolific!

    Aug 13, 2010 | 9:34 pm

  27. Divine G. says:

    I use kaffir leaves when I want to eat chicken and/ or shrimp with coconut milk. In a pan I boil the coconut milk add ginger , red bell pepper, salt and pepper, kaffir leaves, crushed pineapple, shrimp and/or chicken. Cook for a while then serve with white rice. Try it MM it is good and very easy.

    Aug 14, 2010 | 9:17 am

  28. Junb says:

    there you go….I’m sure the feeling when you see those 2 beautiful kaffir limes is like having two beautiful twin babies ;)

    Aug 14, 2010 | 9:52 am

  29. emmanR says:

    congatulations! i just bought my own kaffir plant from market market earlier today. i found out about this plant when i was experimenting with thai cuisine. i was cooking thai green curry chicken and i discovered it. i went to a grocecy store and found out that its 10 pesos per LEAF! thats why i decided to plant my own kaffir tree.

    Aug 15, 2010 | 10:56 pm

  30. Marketfan says:

    MM, you might find this article interesting (in relation to enjoying homegrown fruits)


    Aug 18, 2010 | 12:33 pm

  31. Rona says:

    Hi, we’re really having a hard time looking for a supplier of Kaffir Leaves. We buy this for 8pesos per piece. In a week our consumption is 300pcs. Hope you could help us, can you sell kaffir leaves to us in most affordable price? Our offc is located at Maybunga Pasig City, Hope you could give me a mail. Thanks

    Sep 2, 2010 | 5:42 pm

  32. edgar carrasco says:

    could you pls tell me where i could buy kaffir seedlings as i wish to grow some. pls reach me thru my email or at 09238258458. thanks!

    Sep 20, 2010 | 7:17 pm

  33. ayban says:

    ..nice write up. it encouraged me to continue nurturing my lime tree.

    Feb 21, 2011 | 3:57 pm

  34. juls says:

    i’m tending my 5 pots of seed-grown kaffir lime seedlings… they’re a hardy bunch… slow to grow but hardy…

    May 11, 2011 | 7:30 pm

  35. Edwin says:

    I’ve grown my own Kaffir lime plants from seeds. Now I have three surviving three-and-a-half year old trees. I planted two trees in our garden in the province and gave the other one to my aunt in Metro Manila. Until now I often wonder what more joy could it had been for me had all nine seedlings survived. I really, really cared for them until one day I was shocked to discover that all but three seedlings were destroyed by chicks that were able to pass through the cyclone wire that protected the fragile seedlings.

    Jun 19, 2011 | 11:57 pm

  36. Grace says:

    Hi MM. Ihave Kaffir Lime leaves, anyone who are interested to buy it, just email me or give a call please 0920-6556429. Glad to discover your website.

    Apr 1, 2012 | 8:06 pm

  37. Rachanee Munar says:

    Hi! We have a basket of kaffir fruit from our tree every month and we sell the rind (frozen, but if you want you can buy fresh too at an agreed time) you can contact me at rachaneemunar@gmail.com or text me at 09165607513. cheers!

    Jul 8, 2012 | 7:58 am


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