Are Citrus Leaves Edible?

johnorangeJuly 12, 2013

Once in a while I bruise some young leaves of my Ponderosa lemons and I understand why some of the worms and other pests like citrus leaves. They smell really good! There are really only two pests I have in my area that eat the leaves, leaf miners, and swallowtail butterfly larvae. My trees are big enough now so I could harvest a few leaves now and then or use leaves off pruned branches. Are there ways we humans can also enjoy the leaves or should we remain focused on protecting the leaves from being eaten as most sane folks here are doing?

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

John, the Kaffir lime is specfically grown only for its leaves. It is a main ingredient in many Thai dishes. Yes, you can use the tender leaves of many citrus trees in dishes. I think if you Google "cooking with citrus leaves", you might come up with a few hits.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 7:39PM
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Patty, I have a lime bush that isn't producing limes. Maybe I'll get a crop of leaves then :>)

My soil is terrible for citrus, mostly clay and poorly drained. It gets rock hard during the droughts of summer, like now, and it stays gummy wet during the winter. A kumquat has done great, the satsuma oranges are doing tolerably well, the lime made a few fruit that didn't fill out the year after I planted it, and the Ponderosa lemons I planted from seed have fourished. Oh, the calamondin has also done pretty well.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 6:21PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

John, believe it or not, clay soil can actually be a great thing to grow citrus in, as long as you have set yourself up for the areas to drain well. It is usually recommended to plant citrus on a mound in clay soil, so it drains well, and the citrus roots don't sit in water. Clay is very rich soil, full of minerals, and citrus can thrive in clay, as long as it drains well enough. So, as you put more citrus in, just be sure they're on a mound or slope, and careful with your watering, and you should enjoy some very lovely citrus trees.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 7:04PM
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A lot of people make lemon tea with the leaves. I have made a tea with Meyer lemon leaves, Meyer lemon flowers, lemon grass and Basil that turned out to be amazing with a little honey.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 8:51PM
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Patty, thanks for the good words on planting in clay soil. Maybe there is still hope for some of the less-successful trees I have. Johnmerr, I'll have to try the lemon leaf tea, maybe even blend with fresh mint.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 11:37PM
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