Calamondin Orange Tree: A Citrus Gem

By: Larry Hodgson  | 
A ripe calamondin orange fruit rests on a tree.
The calamondin orange has beautiful, fragrant flowers and small, but bitter, fruit.
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The calamondin orange tree, a lesser-known yet remarkable member of the citrus family, stands as a unique blend of ornamental beauty and practical utility. Originating in China and the Philippines, this tree has gained popularity across the world for its versatility and ease of care.

In this article, we explore the many facets of the calamondin orange tree, shedding light on its characteristics, uses, and cultivation. Read on to discover how you can maintain and benefit from these acid loving citrus plants.


Calamondin Orange Trees in Profile

The calamondin tree is a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a kumquat. It's a small, bushy tree, often reaching up to 3-6 feet in height, making it suitable for container gardening. The leaves are small, glossy, and evergreen, adding to its aesthetic appeal.

Calamondin trees produce fragrant, white flowers, followed by small, round oranges. These tree fruits are sour and slightly sweet, resembling a tarter version of traditional oranges.


The Culinary Appeal of Calamondin Oranges

Calamondin oranges are also sometimes called miniature oranges. Its yellow orange fruit is as decorative as real oranges. Although it's an edible fruit, it's hardly a delicious fruit on its own.

Despite its sour taste, the calamondin orange is a culinary delight. It's widely used in marmalades, jams, and as a flavor enhancer in beverages and desserts. In Southeast Asian cuisine, it's a common condiment, adding zest to dishes.


A close relative of the true orange, which can also be grown indoors, the calamondin orange is a dwarf shrub with shiny, green, leathery leaves. It bears fragrant, white flowers and tiny, one-inch oranges, often both at the same time. They can remain on the shrub for many months.

Medicinal Uses

Medicinally, the fruit is revered for its high vitamin C content. This vital nutrient is well-known for its health benefits, especially in boosting the immune system. One of the most common applications is in the treatment of respiratory ailments such as coughs and phlegm. The fruit's juice, when consumed, can help in loosening and expelling phlegm, making it easier to clear congested airways.

The fruit's juice also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, which can be helpful in reducing inflammation in various parts of the body. This aspect is particularly beneficial in the treatment of sore throats, where the juice's soothing effect can provide significant relief.


Digestive and Topical Applications

Beyond these uses, the calamondin orange is also employed in traditional remedies for its digestive benefits. The fruit's acidity can aid in digestion and help alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating and indigestion. Its mild laxative effect can also be beneficial in regulating bowel movements.

In some traditional practices, the peel of the calamondin orange is also utilized for its medicinal properties. The peel contains essential oils and other compounds that can contribute to overall health, often used in aromatherapy or as an ingredient in topical applications for skin health.


Ornamental Value

As an ornamental plant, the calamondin orange tree is a popular choice for patios and gardens. Its compact size and attractive foliage make it ideal for small spaces.

Homeowners who are seeking indoor trees would be rewarded by these low-maintenance options. The tree blooms and bears fruit intermittently throughout the year, providing a continuous display of color and fragrance.


Symbolism and Cultural Significance

In various cultures, the calamondin orange tree symbolizes good fortune and prosperity. It's often used in festive decorations, especially during the Chinese New Year. The tree also represents resilience and adaptability, thriving in varied environments and conditions.


Growing Calamondin Orange Trees

The calamondin orange tree is an excellent choice for gardeners looking for a low-maintenance yet rewarding horticultural experience. This tree thrives exceptionally well in warm climates, showcasing its love for the sun and heat. However, its remarkable hardiness sets it apart from its citrus counterparts; it can withstand cooler temperatures that would typically be challenging for other citrus trees.

Use Well Draining Potting Soil and Lots of Light

In terms of potting soil requirements, the calamondin orange tree favors well-drained soil. This preference ensures that the roots remain healthy and free from water-logging, which can lead to root rot – a common issue in citrus trees. There should be enough moisture present to nourish the plant while allowing excess water to drain away efficiently.


Sunlight plays a crucial role in the health and fruit production of these fruit trees. It requires full sun exposure for optimal growth. This means planting the tree in a location where it can receive at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Such exposure ensures vigorous growth and a bountiful harvest of the slightly sour fruits.

Easy Watering, Fertilizing, and Pruning

Regular deep watering is vital to maintain the tree's health, particularly during its flowering and fruiting stages. However, over-watering can be as detrimental as under-watering, so monitoring the soil's moisture level is key. During dryer seasons or in especially hot climates, increasing the frequency of watering may be necessary to compensate for the quicker evaporation of moisture from the soil.

Fertilization is another aspect of care that can significantly influence the growth of the calamondin orange tree. Using a citrus-specific fertilizer is advisable as it is formulated to provide the right balance of nutrients needed for citrus trees. Using citrus fertilizer occasionally, especially during the growing season, can encourage healthier growth and better fruit yield.

Pruning, while seldom necessary, can be done to maintain the tree's shape and remove any dead or diseased branches. This occasional pruning helps in maintaining the aesthetic appeal of the tree and ensures that the plant's energy can produce fruit and healthy foliage.


A Versatile Citrus Wonder

Whether it's enhancing the flavor of culinary creations, adorning gardens with its ornamental beauty, or being utilized in traditional remedies, this tree is truly a testament to nature's bounty.

Easy to grow and care for, it's an ideal choice for both seasoned gardeners and beginners alike. The calamondin tree not only enriches our gardens but also our lives, offering a touch of nature's magic in our daily routine. Embracing this citrus gem means welcoming a piece of cultural heritage, health, and beauty into our homes.


This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

Calamondin Orange Quick Facts

Scientific Name: X Citrofortunella mitis (Citrus mitis)

Common Names: Calamondin Orange, Miniature Orange


Light Requirement for Calamondin Orange: Full Sun to Bright Light

Water Requirement for Calamondin Orange: Drench, Let Dry

Humidity for Calamondin Orange: High

Temperature for Calamondin Orange: House to Cool

Fertilizer for Calamondin Orange: High Phosphorus

Potting Mix for Calamondin Orange: All-Purpose

Propagation of Calamondin Orange: Seed, Stem Cuttings

Decorative Use for Calamondin Orange: Floor, Table

Care Rating for Calamondin Orange: Demanding