Thanks to its pollination compatibility, we have several Citrus sps. with a varied range of sourness, color, and shapes. Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix) has its origin in Tropical Southeast Asia and is the most commonly grown backyard plant in Thailand, signifying its common usage. The leaves are of economic value used in food items for their distinctive taste and smell.

Leaves and fruits of Kaffir lime

The double-leaved, bumpy surfaced Kaffir lemon 

Plant description

The plant grows up to a height of 2 to 11 meters, with a sturdy stem; the tender branches of the plant are thorny. Opposite the petiole, two leaves emerge, giving a mirror-like appearance, and the leaves are distinctly double shaped. The fruits are green with an uneven surface (bumpy) width of 2-4 cm.

Nutritional Value

With various advertisement campaigns around us, we are very sure of the abundance of Vitamin C in lime families. 

  • A common deficiency symptom of Vit C is Scurvy–Bleeding gums–the leaves rich in it, can be rubbed directly on gums to improve oral health. The essence from the leaves is used in toothpaste preparation. 
  • The Kaffir lime is also used in shampoos that add a great smell and strengthen the hair follicles. Asians of Thailand apply this as prescribed by the handbooks of the grandparents (shared DIY hair care solution for growth and tackling dandruff).
  • The oil extracts from the lime are good skincare products. It prevents bacterial growth that stands as the aggravating reason for acne.
  • The antioxidant-rich kaffir lime checks the digestive issues and boosts immunity.
  • Consumption helps reduce blood pressure and the vaporized oil inhalation calms your stressed nerves.


The leaves contain limonene and citronella that have flavor and fragrance and are used in various Thai dishes. Its sourness adds a unique taste to soups, flavored curd, and sweets(marmalade). The leaves can be stored for a long time when defreezed. The fruit’s rind is thick, but sometimes, its peel is also used for culinary purposes.

Kaffir leaves packed airtight are ready for sale

Kaffir leaves are available at nearby stores

How different is it from a lemon?

  • The first difference is visually–The fruit surface of Kaffir lime is convoluted with bumps. In contrast, a typical lemon surface/rind is smooth. 
  • Taste–The sourness of Kaffir lime is extensive with bitterness, whereas lemon has pleasant tangy sourness.
  • The leaves are the most used/consumed part of Kaffir lime–that is used in soups, flavoring dishes compared to lemon, where fruits are preferred.

Controversies with name

The word ‘Kaffir’ means infidelity. The Arabians already used this word in South Africa against the African slaves. The extended usage by the white South Africans triggered a racial dispute. An alternate name, ‘Makrut lime’ was coined to discourage the active usage of the offensive word.

Anusha Velamuri

15- Feb-2022

Tags: Fruits


  1. Sindhu

    I didn’t heard about such kind of fruit .Good Information.

  2. Anusha Velamuri

    More than the fruits its leaves being used while cooking came out as a surprise for me

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