Spanish Lime (Melicoccus bijugatus). This fruit has many other names, depending on the country in which it grows: chenet, genip, ginep, ginnip, gnep, guaya, quenepa, guinep, kenèp, limoncillo, mamón, mamoncillo and skinnip. It is not a citrus, but a fruit tree in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is native to a wide area of the American tropics including the Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela and Surinam. The fruit is similar to its cousin, the lychee. The seeds can be roasted and eaten. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Sweet Lime or Limetta (Citrus limetta). This fruit, native to Eurasia and North Africa, is also cultivated in the Mediterranean region. It goes by many names, including Mediterranean sweet lemon, sweet lemon, and sweet lime and sweet limetta. In India, it is known as mosambi, mousambi or musamb. The fruit is edible, and contains essential oils; the tree is used for ornamental purposes. Sweet limes are thought to be a cross between Mexican limes and sweet lemons. They are extremely sweet when ripe. As a sweet variety, they lack citric acid. They are very aromatic and juicy.
Sweet Lime. Photo courtesy of
Sweet limes look very similar to regular limes, but are more yellowish-green in color. They make a wonderfully, edible garnish on iced tea, soft drinks and cocktails (in fact, they make a sweet limeade); and are added to to relishes, sauces and breads. The citrus in the sweet lime highlights the rich, deep flavors of meat and poultry.
Tahitian Lime (Citrus x latifolia), also known as the Persian lime and the Bearss lime after T.J. Bearss of Porterville, California, who created one of the principal cultivars in 1895. The Persian/Tahitian is one of the principal commercial limes grown in the U.S. It is the basic supermarket lime, large and thick-skinned. See the detailed history.
Wild Lime (Adelia ricinella). The wild lime is not a citrus, but a flowering shrub. While called “wild,” it is cultivated outdoors as well indoors, as a houseplant.
Nutrition and Factoids
Limes are low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium, and high in dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and copper.
Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C (29 mg per 100 grams), but they have even more calcium (33 mg). They also provide 8 mg of folate and 10 mg of vitamin A.
A tablespoon of lime juice has 25 calories; a whole, peeled lime has about 40 calories (depending on size).
Limes have antioxidant properties: they contain flavonoids called flavanol glycosides, including many kaempferol-related molecules. These flavonoids have been shown to stop cell division in many types of cancer cell lines, and also to have antibiotic effects.
In the late 18th century, a Scottish naval surgeon, Sir James Lind, discovered that citrus fruits were the remedy to scurvy, a fatal disease we now know is caused by a lack of Vitamin C. Scurvy had killed more British sailors than any enemy. Along with their daily ration of rum, British sailors were required to consume a daily ration of lime juice, which is how they became known as limeys. Why not lemons? Since Britain was often at war with Mediterranean countries who exported lemons, limes imported cheaply from the British colony of Jamaica became the better choice.
Limes are picked and sold green, yet they will turn yellow if left on the tree to ripen naturally.