Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens


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Hey All – I wanted to share this article with you about Kumquats.  After visiting Florida and seeing these citrus trees up close, Pat McGivern, a View co-editor, shared the below article in our January edition.  A fun (and informative article) just in time citrus season – I just saw kumquats in the grocery store yesterday!

If you do not receive our monthly e-newsletter, the View, you can sign up at http://www.cedarvalleyarboretum.org/newsletter.asp.

See you in the gardens,



Kumquat is the common name of a group of small fruit bearing trees in the flowering plant family Rutaceae.  They are native to south Asia and the Asia Pacific region.  They were introduced to Europe in 1846 by Robert Fortune, and shortly thereafter to North America.  Kumquats are commonly classified as the genus Fortunella (in honor of Robert Fortune), but some authorities believe they should be included in the Citrus genus.  The leaves are dark glossy green, and the flowers white, as are other citrus flowers. They need hot summers, but are hardier to cold temperatures than oranges. The edible fruit, also called a kumquat, looks similar to an orange, but is smaller and more oval.

I was introduced to kumquats on a recent trip to Central Florida when a friend pulled a handful off a neighbor’s tree.  The fruit is considered ripe when it has reached yellowish orange and shed the last tinge of green.  The rind is sweet and the juicy center is sour.  Kumquats are often eaten raw, either whole to savor the contrast, or only the rind is used.  I loved to cut in half, remove the few large seeds, and eat whole.  The flavor  is described as citrusy, spicy, woody.  I can testify that ripe off the tree is wonderful, and plan to check out the citrus shelves of local stores.

To say these fruits are plentiful in Central Florida is an understatement.  Owners are urged (tongue in cheek), to pick grocery bags full to hang on neighbor’s doorknobs as a gift and run.  Apparently their excess is the equivalent of Midwest zucchini.  However, they are rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.  In addition to enjoying them raw, or sliced and added to salads, they are commonly used for preserves, marmalade, and jelly.  They can be added to muffins, or used as a martini garnish.

Looking at our Iowa snow, I can only dream of having a fresh bag of tree ripened kumquats left on my door….


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

February 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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