A taste of the outback – CSIRO lime varieties

By July 29th, 2015

Blood limes

‘Australian Blood’ (also known as ‘Australian Red Centre’) is from a cross between an acid mandarin and a native finger lime. It has blood-red rind, flesh and juice.

CSIRO selected and crossed Australian native limes to produce new citrus varieties with their own unique taste.

Australia has several native citrus species, offering unique textures, flavours and colours from plants adapted to our dry and varied climate.

The Australian native foods industry are very interested in these species but has found yields from wild harvested trees inconsistent and fruit small.

To address these issues, CSIRO citrus breeder Dr Steve Sykes took on the challenge of selecting and crossing native citrus with modern cultivars. The result is three high-yielding citrus varieties with larger than normal fruit, consistent yields and the unique flavour and texture of Australian native limes.

The varieties have proved suitable for plantation production using standard horticultural practices and are now available for domestic gardeners.

The limes

Australian Sunrise limes

The Australian Outback Lime

The Australian Outback Lime was cultivated at the Merbein, Victoria site of CSIRO Plant Industry by Dr Steve Sykes. Photographer : Carl Davies

The three varieties produce red, yellow or green fruit:

  • ‘Australian Blood’ (also known as ‘Australian Red Centre’) is from a cross between an acid mandarin and a native finger lime. It has blood-red rind, flesh and juice.
  • ‘Australian Sunrise’ produces a pear-shaped, orange fruit that makes an excellent marmalade.  It is a hybrid selection from a cross between a calamondin (mandarin crossed with cumquat) and a native finger lime.
  • ‘Australian Outback’ (also known as ‘Australian Desert’) is a variety selected and developed from a collection of different native desert lime trees. It produces small green, juicy fruits which ripen at Christmas time. Its fruits can be used for preparing sauces.

Each of the different limes has its own unique taste. They are all relatively acidic, like a lemon, and are excellent when used in sauces. They can also be used as an ingredient for preserves, condiments and beverages, or fresh as an attractive garnish.

Where to buy

Please find below the contact details for nurseries in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland who have recently finalised contracts with CSIRO Plant Industry to propagate and distribute trees from native lime varieties.

Western Australia:

John Sargiovani
Citrees Nursery
(08) 9248 6003
Address: 8 Lakefarm Retreat, Ballajura, WA 6066

New South Wales:
Gary Eyles- A.T. Eyles & Sons Pty Ltd
Phone: (02) 9654 9227
Address: 207 Pitt Town Road, Kenthurst NSW 2156
Fax: 61+ 02 9654 9601

Greg Flemming
Murray Valley Nurseries
Phone: (03) 5030 5325

Cedar Creek Nursery


Phone: (07) 5447 0101