Most lime trees will have thorns including the West Indian lime, Finger limes, Makrut (Kaffir) lime and Key limes. Tahitian limes (Persian lime) will have no or very minimal thorns. This is the best choice if you want to avoid lime thorns in your yard.
This article will explore all you need to know about lime trees with and without thorns. Find out which lime trees have thorns and the best lime tree for your yard
Lime trees with and without thorns
Limes without thorns (almost)
- Tahitian Lime (Persian Lime)
Limes with thorns
- West Indian Limes
- Finger Limes (native to Australia)
- Makrut (Kaffir) lime
- Key limes
Tahitian Limes – No thorns
Tahitian Limes are one the most popular lime trees because they have large, delicious fruit and they are (almost) thornless. These lime trees are perfect for your yard and rarely grow thorns. My Tahitian lime is around 5 years old and has no thorns at all.
West Indian Limes – Have thorns
West Indian limes have small thorns all the way down their stems. The thorns are small but are still sharp and can cause injury. Keep these out of areas that are accessible to pets and kids.
These lime trees still grow delicious limes that are sharp in flavor and perfect for Indian dishes. The limes are smaller but still full of juice.
Australian Finger Lime – Have thorns
The Australian Finger Lime is a fascinating plant that has thorns all the way down the stems. They grow finger shaped limes in bunches that are filled with small, juice filled balls. They look like lime colored caviar and even come in a pink color.
These are fantastically fascinating plants but can grow as high as 30 feet so choose carefully where you plant them. They can be kept to a smaller size however if you trim the tops and outer branches.
Makrut (Kaffir) lime – Have thorns
Kaffir lime trees have long thorns that grow down their stem and trunk. These can be sharp so take care when harvesting from this tree. This lime tree is grown for its leaves, they grow as double leaves which can be dried. These leaves can be added fresh or dried to cooking to add a citrus flavor to dishes.
Key lime tree – Have thorns
Key limes are popular and delicious and have short thorns that can be difficult to see. These grow up the stems and be quite tricky to avoid. Wear garden gloves when picking from this lime tree to avoid injury.
Lime suckers – Have thorns
For grafted lime trees any stems that grow below the graft are likely to have thorns. Lime trees will be grown on a hardy, fast growing root stock that can have thorns on their stems.
Why has my lime tree got thorns?
Lime trees grow thorns as a way to protect themselves from predators. New lime leaves can make a tasty treat for passing birds and creatures and limes will use spines on their stems to protect themselves.
Younger lime trees tend to have more spines as they are generally more vulnerable to attack. Older lime trees or Tahitian limes can have less thorns which makes them a perfect choice for a home garden.
Are lime tree thorns poisonous?
Lime tree thorns are not poisonous and contain no toxins which can cause harm. They are sharp however and it will hurt if you get poked by a lime thorn. Garden gloves and long sleeves are essential protection when pruning or picking limes.
To protect your hands from lime thorns when pruning or picking limes, wear long garden gloves made from sturdy material. Garden gloves combined with long sleeves will also help to protect \your hands and arms when you go to pick your delicious limes.
Can I stop my lime tree from growing thorns?
Choosing a lime tree variety that has been bred to be thornless or have low numbers of thorns is the best option. Tahitian limes are the best choice if you are looking to avoid the thorns on a lime tree.
Make sure you prune any stems that grow below the graft to make sure that there are no thorny stems coming from the root stock. These stems can grow incredibly long thorns as these root stocks are chosen for their vigor.
Allowing the lime tree time to grow can usually result in less thorns as it gets older. The oldest branches of these lime trees generally will have less or no thorns as they won’t be defending their new, delicate growth.
Trimming the lower branches of lime trees can help to lift the canopy to keep the thorns of the upper branches out of reach. Limes generally form smaller trees than other citrus but removing the lower branches can help to lift the tree and reduce the number of spines lower down.
Does a lime tree have thorns? | Summary
Most lime trees will have thorns but the Tahitian lime is the best choice for those looking for a lime tree with no or very few thorns. Lime trees will grow fruit most of the year and will add lots of new leaf growth in Spring continuing into Summer.
The Tahitian lime is the best choice for a easy to grow tree with tons of fruit that looks great as a feature.
I have been growing lime trees at home for years. I had great success with a tree grafted with a lemon and lime branch to the same root stock. This tree gave me both types of fruit on the same tree. If you choose a lemon-lime tree you will need to cut back the lemon side of the tree more regularly.
I found that the lemon side would grow vigorously while the lime would grow at half the rate. Trimming back the lemon side was the easy solution.
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I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.