Buddha Hand Fruit (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis)

Buddha Hand Fruit

  • One of the First Cultivated Citrus in the World
  • Sure-Fire Conversation Starter
  • Amazingly Strong Citrus Scent
  • Great in Containers
  • Delightfully Sporadic White Flowers
  • Typically Ripens November-January
  • Bring Inside for Winter Months
  • Use as Zest or Cocktail Garnishes

Growing a Buddha’s Hand Fruit (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) gives you a conversation starter as well as a bona fide piece of history. Talk about unique!

Ancient records show that this is one of the oldest varieties of citrus fruit ever recorded. And not being your typical round citrus, when the fruit is mature it looks like a human hand with fingers reaching out.

First cultivated in China and Northern India, these fruit are also known as Fingered Citron. They are sometimes described as “lemons with fingers”. This odd little citrus is treasured for its sweet floral fragrance and mild zest.

Inside the fruit there is little to no flesh or even any real juice to speak of – it’s all pith and rind. Because there’s nothing like regular citrus fruit inside, it isn’t really an ‘eating’ fruit, although you can candy the rind and use the zest in baking and drink infusions.

What the fruit is often used for is table or floral displays and scenting your home. Just slice one of the ‘fingers’ off and it will perfume your whole room with a mouth-watering citrusy scent.

These mid-season citrus typically ripen up between November and January and deliver plenty of the wonderfully weird fruit.

How to Use Buddha Hand Fruit in the Landscape

Hardy in zones 10 and 11, most of us will be enjoying Buddha’s Hand as a patio tree to be moved inside during the winter months. This means you can use as an outdoor decoration in the summer months and an indoor delight during the winter!

Periodically, you’ll find white flowers budding atop the lush green foliage as many citrus varieties do.

The fruit resembles a lemon with finger-like segments and, when places prominently, is sure to kick off plenty of conversations with your guests and neighbors.

Sure, there aren’t many recipes that call for the fleshy part of the fruit due to its mostly rindy nature but that doesn’t mean there’s no use for it in the kitchen!

Snag a buddha hand citron and zest it into salad dressing or your favorite savory dishes–it tastes like lemon zest. You can also elevate cocktail night with a lemony garnish.

If you have any leftovers after all that, try your own hand at candying your fruity hand. The pith (or the white part inside the rind) isn’t bitter and therefore doesn’t require the timely steps of soaking and pre-boiling.

Tips for Care

This symbol of happiness longevity and good fortune is self-pollinating, so no need for a second partner to reap the benefits of these fun fruit.

To keep Buddah’s Hand happy, plant in well-drained soils in full sun. If you don’t live in zones 10 or 11, we suggest planting in a pot with good drainage and place it in your sunniest window for best results.

Like other citrus, Buddha’s Hand HATES soggy soil so the well-drained part of this care plan is key.

While flowering can be pretty sporadic, the fruit typically ripens between November and January. When indoors, try to add a bit of humidity to its spot, it’ll appreciate it endlessly.

Lemons and limes are great but why not take a ride on the wild side with Buddha Hand Fruit!

Buddha Hand Fruit (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) Details

Common name Buddha Hand Fruit
Botanical name Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis
Plant type Broad-Leaved Evergreen
Hardiness zone 10-11 (Indoors 4-11)
Growth rate Medium
Height 8 - 12 ft.
Width 6 - 12 ft.
Sunlight Full Sun
Moisture Medium
Soil condition Well Drained
Pollinator-friendly Yes
Flower color White