“The little gems of the Citrus family”
- Origin and Distribution
- Food Uses
- Pests and Diseases
Kumquat is a small citrus fruit that grows in climates too cool for other citrus plants. The kumquat tree is slow-growing, trees reach heights of 1 to 2.5 m and have a vase-like or rounded canopy. the branches light-green and angled when young, thornless or with a few spines. The apparently simple leaves are alternate, lanceolate, (3.25-8.6 cm) long, finely toothed from the apex to the middle, dark-green, glossy above, lighter beneath. In spring trees have fragrant white flowers are borne singly or 1 to 4 together in the leaf axils, sweetly fragrant, 5-parted, the trees are self-fertile. The fruit is oval-oblong or round, (1.6-4 cm) wide; peel is golden-yellow to reddish-orange, with large, conspicuous oil glands, fleshy, thick, tightly clinging, edible, the outer layer spicy, the inner layer sweet; the pulp is scant, in 3 to 6 segments, not very juicy, acid to subacid; contains small, pointed seeds or sometimes none.
Origin and Distribution:
Kumquats are evergreen trees and are native to China, south Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, the earliest historical reference to kumquats appears in literature of China in the 12th century. They have long been cultivated in India, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and southeast Asia. Kumquats are believed native to China. They were described in Chinese literature in 1178 A.D. In 1712, kumquats were included in a list of plants cultivated in Japan.
They have been grown in Europe, North Africa and North America since the mid-19th Century, mainly as ornamental dooryard trees and as potted specimens in patios and greenhouses.
Kumquat trees tolerate any pH and most soil types as long as the soil is well-drained, also, need full sun.
Kumquat required a hot summer, ranging from 26 º- 37º C, but could withstand 10 to 15 degrees of frost without injury. It grows in the regions where the climate is too cold for other citrus fruits, even the Satsuma mandarin, they also tolerate seaside conditions. Kumquat trees grow better and produce larger and sweeter fruits in warmer regions.
The trees differ also from other Citrus species in that they enter into a period of winter dormancy so profound that they will remain through several weeks of subsequent warm weather without putting out new shoots or blossoms.
Kumquats are rarely grown from seed as they do not do well on their own roots, for that Kumquats grafted onto Rough lemon or trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata), also, Sour orange and grapefruit are suitable rootstocks for warm regions.
1- Round kumquat Fortunella japonica (or Citrus japonica).
2- Oval kumquat Fortunella margarita (or Citrus margrita).
The following varieties are those most utilized for food:
1- Hong Kong, or Hong Kong Wild (F. Hindsii Swing.)
2- Marumi, or Round Kumquat (F. japonica Swing., syn. Citrus maduremis Lour.)
3- Meiwa, or Large Round Kumquat (F. crassifolia Swing.),
4- Nagami, or Oval, Kumquat (F. margarita Swing.)
In orchard plantings, kumquats on trifoliate orange can be set (2.4-3.5 m) apart, or they may be spaced at (1.5 m) in hedged rows (3.5 m) apart.
For pot culture, they must be dwarfed; must not be allowed to become pot-bound, and need faithful watering to avoid dehydration and also need regular feeding. The tree is smaller growing and dwarf in nature, making it ideal for pots and has even been used in bonsai.
Fruit ripens mid to late winter and always crops very heavily, for the fresh fruit market, it has been customary to clip the fruits individually with 2 or 3 leaves attached to the stem.
For decorating gift packs of other citrus fruits, or for use as table decorations, leafy branches bearing several fruits are clipped.
Because of the thick peel, the kumquat has good keeping quality and stands handling and shipment well.
The fruit is small and usually round or oval shaped. Fresh kumquats can be eaten fresh, whole the peel is the sweetest part of the fruit and has a sweet flavor but the fruit has a sour center when eaten together it produces an unusual refreshing flavor and fruit often used to make candies.
For preserving, they should be left until they lose some of their moisture and acquire richer flavor. The fruits are easily preserved whole in sugar syrup.
Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion (raw)*
|Vitamin A||2,530 I.U.|
|Ascorbic Acid||151 mg|
*According to analyses published by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Pests and Diseases:
Potted kumquats are subject to mealy bug infestations. Dooryard and orchard trees may be attacked by most of the common citrus pests. They are highly resistant or even immune to citrus canker, sometimes Aphids and Scale insects attack the trees.
Kumquat trees are susceptible to root rot diseases avoid excess moisture and need well-drained soil.
Dr. Waleed Abobatta