Combava (Citrus Hystrix), The Lemon With Subtle Zest

Combava or Citrus hystrix

This species of Citrus, which is native to an Indonesian island formerly called Sumbawa from which it takes its name, forms a small tree of 3 m maximum height with thorny branches. It is quite cold and will not tolerate that the temperature drops permanently below -5° C.

Its evergreen leaves are doubly winged and have a very pretty green characteristic of lemon trees. Its small flowers appear in April, then in July, of pinkish white color. They will give small round fruits and green all cracked, with a diameter of 5 to 6 cm.

If the greenish pulp is acidic, rather hard and juicy, on the other hand, the leaves like the zest are much sought after by the great chefs: the leaves flavor the sauces and the meats simmered, while the zest, with the very subtle perfume getting closer mandarin and lemongrass, offers a very interesting aroma for desserts in particular.

  • Family: Rutaceae
  • Type: perennial
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Color: pinkish white flower
  • Sowing: yes
  • Cutting: no
  • Planting: spring
  • Harvest: October and November
  • Height: 3 m maximum

Soil and ideal exposure to plant a combava in the garden

The kaffir lime needs a rich and well-drained soil, with a sunny and warm exposure, sheltered from the wind.

Date of sowing, grafting and planting combava

In the spring, you can arm yourself with patience and sow combava seeds in a greenhouse heated to about 25° C. Then you will transplant the plants in small pots.

The other way to multiply the kaffir lime is the grafting on another species of citrus.

Planting is done in the spring when the cold has disappeared.

Board of maintenance and culture combava

During the summer, regular watering is necessary so that the soil is never desiccated. Be careful not to leave water in the saucer if you grow it in pots.

Better to have a combava in pot or tray: in the fall you have to enter a cold room, ideally not higher than 10° C so that the plant winters and offers a beautiful flowering later.

If you are on the Côte d'Azur and have planted your kava in the ground, straw your foot in the fall, and if necessary, put a wintering veil.

Harvesting, conservation and use of combava

The fruits are harvested when they are dark green in October and November. They are preserved like all other citrus, quite easily in the fridge, and are used in cooking, as noted above.

Diseases, pests and parasites of combava

Whiteflies, mealybugs, aphids, red spiders are to be feared especially in the greenhouse during the rest period.

Location and favorable association of combava

It is a plant that is grown in isolation, either in pot or in the ground, in the south of France.

The Citrus hystrix is the only botanical species proposed.

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