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What is a Kumquat Tree?

what-is-a-kumquat-tree?

This is a close look at the Kumquat Tree, its many characteristics, where it usually grows, the many types of Kumquat trees, and their differences.

Citrus Japonica/ Fortunella Japonica

I’ll never forget the first time that I saw a kumquat tree in person. Walking down a quiet neighborhood in New Orleans, and spotting these gorgeous little fruit trees that seemed to be very popular choices for the locals’ front gardens and reaching over a short white picket fence to pluck a small orange fruit, only to find that it was a kumquat!

Biting into the fruit was a revelation of flavor. I had never before tasted a fruit where the rind was sweeter than the flesh, and it created an incredible symphony of flavor. It seemed like such a wonderful gift to have these incredible fruit trees right outside your front door.

Kumquat trees are part of the Rutaceae family, and they produce edible fruits that are somewhat similar to that of the orange (citrus Sinensis) though much smaller and let’s face it, slightly more interestingly flavored.

The word kumquat is derived from the Cantonese word kamkwat, which loosely translates to “golden mandarin orange”. Though part of the citrus family, they are far more cold-hardy than almost any other citrus fruit.

There isn’t much that you wouldn’t want to do with a kumquat. One could make candied kumquats, kumquat juice, kumquat marmalade, kumquat pie, simply sliced kumquats as a beautiful salad garnish, or you could just pluck it and eat it fresh as I did in New Orleans.

Once you’ve finished learning about citrus japonica, head on over to 101 Types of Trees. This is a wonderful article that we’ve compiled to inspire curiosity about trees. We guarantee you’ll learn something new, and you’ll be loaded with cool tree facts that you can unload whenever you’re faced with an awkward silence in conversation.

Table of Contents

What do Kumquat Trees Look Like?

Root System

Kumquat trees prefer to grow in areas that are very saturated by humidity in the air and moisture in the soil, and so they come equipped with a root system that represents that type of growing condition.

Trees that grow in moist situations have the luxury of keeping their roots closer to the top soil, because roots don’t need to go searching deeper and deeper in the earth for moisture reserves.

This also means that some trees who have shallow root systems can interfere with infrastructure or other plant life, but in the case of the kumquat tree, their roots are very noninvasive and rarely cause these types of issues.

Dimensions

This plant can be considered as either a small tree or a large shrub. They will usually only grow to be between 2 and 5 meters in height, with a thin (but capable) trunk diameter.

Growth Pattern

Kumquat trees have very densely growing branches that create a very rounded crown shape – kind of like a little pom pom! Branches are covered with small thorns, which is one of the easier ways to identify the tree, if the tree isn’t in fruiting season.

Bark

Kumquat tree bark is either a light brown/gray color or light brown/red color. The bark is covered with very small and discreet vertical ridges and fissures, but overall, has a rather smooth appearance.

Foliage

The kumquat is an evergreen tree, meaning that foliage will remain green and persist all year long, regardless of the season or climate.

Leaves are a very dark green, glossy color. A leaf is between 1 and 3 inches long, and is a simple oval shape with pointed tips at either end. Leaves are alternately arranged on a twig in a spiral pattern.

How do Kumquat Trees Reproduce?

Flowers

Kumquat trees have “perfect” flowers, meaning that a single flower will possess both male sexual characteristics and female sexual characteristics. This means that trees are self pollinating, and that you do not need more than one tree in order for a flower to become fertilized.

Flowers are borne in clusters, very similar to other citrus flowers. Flowers are very small and white, with 5 thin petals and several yellow stamens. They emerge in the late spring.

Sexual Maturity

Kumquat trees have an average life expectancy of only about 50 years. Young trees will start to produce fruit within the first 2-5 years of their life, and will continue to have productive fruit crops every year for their entire lives.

Fruit

Once a flower is fertilized, it will produce a citrus fruit in the form of a kumquat. Depending on the type of kumquat fruit, it will vary in shape, size, and overall flavor. We will expand upon the different types of kumquat citrus varieties directly below.

What are the Types of Kumquats?

Round Kumquat (Citrus Marumi/ Cirtus Morgani)

Round kumquats are a golden yellow color and are a very spherical shape. Their peel is very sweet, and their flesh is a much more sour flavor. The round kumquat is used to make marmalades, spreads, and jellies mostly.

The tree itself is a very popular bonsai cultivar, and is a common houseplant. These trees are a symbol of good luck in China, and are often given as gifts during the Lunar New Year.

Oval Kumquat (Citrus Margarita/ Fortunella Margarita)

Oval kumquats are a much more ovular shape than most, as indicated by its name. These trees are a dwarf citrus tree by nature, and make an ideal bonsai tree. The tree crops very heavily.

The fruit itself has a very sweet skin and a very sour flesh, and these oval kumquats will most commonly be eaten as fresh fruit and whole. The skin itself is slightly different by having distinct green and yellow stripes.

Meiwa Kumquat (Citrus Crassifolia/ Fortunella Crassifolia)

The Meiwa kumquat is one of the lesser edible kumquat varities. The fruit is filled with seeds, it has a very thick skin and much less flesh than other types of kumquats.

Hong Kong Kumquat (Citrus Hindsii/ Fortunella Hindsii)

The Hong Kong kumquat is also not the best choice for eating. These fruits are very small and very acidic with large seeds, little flesh, and thick skin.

These trees are mostly grown as ornamental plants, otherwise they are found growing in the wild. They are one of the more primitive types of kumquat trees.

Nagami Kumquat (Citrus Obovata/ Fortunella Obovata)

The Nagami kumquat tree is a delectable kumquat variety. This tree bears fruits that are either rounded or bell shaped, with a very bright orange skin.

The fruit itself is very sweet, and is commonly made its jellies and marmalades, or simply eaten raw. This tree is a common ornamental tree, and it has an exceptional tolerance for cold!

Malayan Kumquat (Citrus Polyandra/ Fortunella Polyandra)

The Malayan kumquat is a kumquat hybrid. This is a key lime hybridized with a kumquat, creating a “limequat”. These fruits are more of a green/ yellow color, and have larger fruits with thinner peels.

Where do Kumquat Trees Grow?

The kumquat tree is native to China. The earliest historical reference of the cultivation of these tree actually dates back to the 12th century! This tree has been cultivated all over Asia for centuries, in places likes Japan, Taiwan, India, and the Philippines.

These trees were introduced to Europe in the mid 1800’s, and shortly thereafter, seedlings were brought to North America. Kumquat trees can grow is USDA growing zone 9 and 10, and are the most cold hardy of all the citrus trees out there!

What are the Growing Conditions of Kumquat Trees?

Soil

Kumquat trees prefer to grow in soil that is moist and well drained. They can grow in moist soil types, with an pH level, as long as that soil is never soggy or waterlogged.

Sun Exposure

These trees prefer full sun exposure, and are not shade tolerant, though they can handle partial shade at certain times of year. Keep this in mind if planting a tree in your yard.

Water Level

Like most other citrus trees, kumquat trees prefer tropical climates that have plenty of humidity in the air, and plenty of annual precipitation as well.

Temperature

Kumquat trees are the most cold hardy of the citrus fruit trees. They can survive an unexpected frost, and can survive winter temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. That being said, they do prefer to exist in temperatures averaging between 77 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

FAQs

How are kumquat trees used?

Kumquat trees are commonly used as either an ornamental tree, thanks to their attractive evergreen foliage, fragrant flowers, and of course wonderfully tasting fruit.

Otherwise, the kumquat plant is grown commercially for its fruit, that will go into making jellies, jams, and spreads, as well as desserts and baked goods.

Do kumquat trees have thorns?

One of the easiest ways to identify a kumquat tree when they are not in fruiting season, is by the small thorns that grow on their branches.

Can I grow a kumquat tree in a pot?

This citrus tree is one of the most ideal contenders for bonsai, as they respond remarkably well to living in pots.

Can you grow a kumquat tree from seed?

Growing kumquat tree from seed is known as being exceptionally difficult,, and so it is best to find a kumquat tree seedling from a nursery or a grafted plant. Only experts would be able to grow a kumquat tree from seed.

How should you prune a kumquat tree?

Kumquat trees will naturally grow in an attractive shape, and really don’t require much pruning. It is best to reserve pruning for suckers, which deplete the energy of the tree.

Otherwise, it is wise to prune a kumquat tree after harvesting its seasonal fruit, and before the new flowers bloom in the spring.

How do you care for a kumquat tree?

Growing kumquats isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and the most important things to remember about kumquat tree care is the following:

– This citrus plant does not tolerate being root bound. They will need an extra large pot to help their roots establish themselves, so keep this in mind when repotting.

– The pot should also have extra drainage holes, as these trees are susceptible to root rot. Proper drainage and proper air circulation are essential to a happy and healthy tree.

– These trees also prefer to exist in full sun conditions, so if it is living indoors, place it directly in front of a south facing window.

– Watering kumquat trees should happen often, but not so often that the soil becomes waterlogged.

– Mulch is a great addition to the top soil to prevent the soil from drying out, and to prevent weeds from forming.

– Use liquid fertilizer when the tree is about 4 months old, and apply directly in the early spring before fruiting begins.

How much water do kumquat trees need?

Like most other citrus trees, kumquat trees prefer tropical climates that have plenty of humidity in the air, and plenty of annual precipitation as well.

What type of soil do kumquat trees prefer?

Kumquat trees prefer to grow in soil that is moist and well drained. They can grow in moist soil types, with an pH level, as long as that soil is never soggy or waterlogged.

How deep do the roots of a kumquat tree grow?

Kumquat trees prefer to grow in areas that are very saturated by humidity in the air and moisture in the soil, and so they come equipped with a root system that represents that type of growing condition.

Trees that grow in moist situations have the luxury of keeping their roots closer to the top soil, because roots don’t need to go searching deeper and deeper in the earth for moisture reserves.

This also means that some trees who have shallow root systems can interfere with infrastructure or other plant life, but in the case of the kumquat tree, their roots are very noninvasive and rarely cause these types of issues.

What is the average life expectancy of a kumquat tree?

Kumquat trees have an average life expectancy of only about 50 years. Young trees will start to produce fruit within the first 2-5 years of their life, and will continue to have productive fruit crops every year for their entire lives.

How fast do kumquat trees grow?

The kumquat tree is a rather slow growing trees, and will only grow between 6 and 12 inches per year, though they will start to begin producing fruit at a very young age.

How tall do kumquat trees get

This plant can be considered as either a small tree or a large shrub. They will usually only grow to be between 2 and 5 meters in height, with a thin (but capable) trunk diameter.

How many types of kumquat trees are there?

There are 4 different kumquat varieties; the Marumi kumquat, the Meiwa kumquat, and the Nagami kumquat.

Are there dwarf kumquat trees?

It is possible to cultivate a dwarfed kumquat tree, though the oval kumquat tree is knowing for being a natural dwarf tree.

Why are my kumquat tree leaves turning yellow?

Yellow leaves on a plant can mean a number of different things. It could be that the soil does not have enough iron, or nitrogen, or the tree may not being receiving enough sunlight, or the soil is waterlogged and the tree is experiencing root rot.

What does the word kumquat mean?

The word kumquat is derived from the Cantonese word kamkwat, which loosely translates to “golden mandarin orange”. Though part of the citrus family, they are far more cold hardy than almost any other citrus fruit.

What type of climate can kumquat trees grow in?

Kumquat trees prefer to grow in more tropical climates, with lots of annual precipitation, high humidity, and lots of warmth. This is very common in citrus trees. That being said, the kumquat tree is one of the most cold hardy citrus plants and it can withstand winter temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do you know when a kumquat is ripe?

The easiest way to tell when a kumquat is ripe is by the color of its skin. A ripe kumquat will be a very deep and bright orange color, whereas unripe kumquats will still hold a little bit of green or yellow in its rind.

Are kumquats high in sugar?

Kumquats are actually remarkably low in sugar content, and there are only 63 calories in an average sized kumquat. These fruits are also high in vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as fiber and antioxidants as well.

Do kumquats ripen after being picked?

Kumquats do not continue to ripen after they are picked, and so it is crucial to allow them to reach full ripeness while they are on the tree. Unfortunately, this can sometimes take several months to happen.

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