Buddha’s hand (Citrus medica) is an amazing citrus tree whose fruit looks like a bright yellow hand, made up of between 5 and 20 fingers (carpels) hanging from a small distorted lemon. It is also known by the name of finger cider.
This tree is native to northwest India and in addition to bearing highly aromatic fruit, these small trees can enhance the look of any landscape and are sure to draw attention to your garden thanks to their showy flowers and distinctive fruit.
Although the Buddha’s hand fruit does not contain pulp or juice, it has many wonderful uses. Unlike most citrus fruits, Buddha’s hand is not bitter , which means the peel is perfect for grating, candiing, and baking along with other foods for flavor.
In addition to its unique appearance and flavor-enhancing qualities, the Buddha’s hand tree can be used indoors next to a window as a beautiful ornamental plant, it will also serve as an air freshener due to its fragrant aroma.
Characteristics of the Buddha’s hand tree
Buddha’s hand trees are grown like any other citrus . They typically grow to between 2 and 3 meters and are often grown in containers as bonsai specimens . It has flowers that vary in color from white to lavender. The fruit is also initially purple but gradually changes to green and then bright yellow at maturity.
The branches have long spines at the point where the leaves meet the stems. It is an evergreen tree, bright and deep green, with a strong lemon scent. Leaves are often large and ridged at the edges and 7-18 centimeters long.
These trees are self-fertile , so fruits are obtained with a single plant, the seeds are very scarce, that is why the most used method of propagation is cuttings. For best growth, choose a spot with well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight, around 6-8 hours per day. They do not tolerate frost.
The Buddha’s hand fertilization must be well balanced and contain all the necessary micronutrients. For best results start in February and provide fertilizer once every 4 to 6 weeks through September.
Buddha’s hand should be watered regularly during its first year once a week and more frequently during the hot season and periods of prolonged drought. Dead or damaged branches should be pruned back in early spring after the threat of frost has passed.
Fruit production occurs 1 or 2 years after planting and has a yield of more than 20 fruits. It is a medium-growing and very resistant plant that needs only basic care to thrive.
Like lemon trees , Buddha’s hand citron is vulnerable to the same diseases. Fruit rot, aphids, mites or mealybugs are some of the many diseases and parasites that these trees can suffer from.
Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.