When you think of a lime, you see a large green fruit that looks like an orange or a lemon. While there are variants of limes that are small, most of the commercially available options are much larger.
Because the lime is a citrus fruit, you would think that they always have seeds like the other fruits in the citrus family. However, keep in mind that there are variations of limes, and these variations differ on several fronts.
So, do limes have seeds? In general, yes, they do. However, most of the limes available to people for consumption are Persian limes. Persian limes don’t have any seeds in them.
So, it is understandable that you might think a lime never has any seeds because of the ones you’ve been exposed to.
Now, let’s take a look at the lime variations, their seed compositions, and what makes them so distinct when it comes to seeds.
The Persian Limes: Most Famous Limes You’ll See
As stated earlier, the vast majority of limes sold for consumption and other applications are Persian limes (Citrus latifolia). These limes are thought to be a separate species, but sources have revealed that they are actually a “natural hybrid of citron and true lime.”
Also known as Bearss limes or Tahiti limes, the Persian limes are parthenocarpic. Essentially, they are produced without any form of fertilization. Thus, they are entirely seedless.
On the flip side, the true limes (Citrus aurantifolia) have seeds. These limes are also known as West Indian limes and Mexican limes. They are much smaller than Persian limes, and they have thinner skin. They are also less resistant to diseases than Persian limes, so they have shorter shelf lives.
The Distinction of Persian Limes
So, where do the Persian limes come from?
Normally, fruit begins to develop when pollen fertilizes the flower’s egg. In contrast, parthenocarpic fruits like the Persian limes develop without any fertilization involved. Fruit can be parthenocarpic for several reasons, including problems with the sperm or egg, issues with pollination, or imbalances in chromosomes.
Persian limes come with three sets of chromosomes instead of two. So, while a lot of parthenocarpic fruits are naturally-occurring, Persian limes are unable to reproduce due to this anomaly in chromosomes. To work around this shortage, most farmers turn to the process of grafting.
In the grafting process, farmers take part of a seedless tree out and put it in a separate tree.
The grafting process essentially allows farmers to clone the original tree so that more seedless limes can be produced. Farmers have also been known to use grafting to fix trees that have been damaged. However, on the production side, grafting is the key that allows farmers to produce and sell seedless limes on a more commercial scale.
So, this is the most significant reason why most limes you see in markets have no seeds. Interestingly, several other members of the citrus family don’t have seeds too. For instance, some lemons are seedless as well. It is possible to find an occasional seed in a “seedless” lemon due to cross-pollination, but many lemons come with no seeds.
Still, lemons without seeds are rarer than those with seed – the exact opposite of limes.
Famous Types of Limes: Do They Have Seeds?
We already know about the Persian limes and the Mexican limes regarding their seed compositions. However, there are several other types of limes available. Here is a quick rundown of some of them:
The Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix) is a type of lime that is particularly famous on the Asian continent. It has a lime-green color and noticeably bumpy skin. Like many types of limes, these ones turn somewhat yellow as they start to ripen. However, the limes are generally tart, and their juice has an overly acidic taste. So, cooking isn’t much of an option with kaffir limes.
Kaffir limes also have small amounts of juice, especially compared to the Persian or Mexican limes. These limes have seeds, which are used to grow more of them.
The Philippine limes (Citrus macrocarpa) is a hybrid type of lime. The flesh is colored orange, and as its name suggests, this type of lime grows particularly in the Philippines and other parts of Southern Asia. In some countries, the Philippine lime is called the calamondin.
Philippine limes are used in some local dishes since they have considerable juice. Along with their food value, some of these limes also help to decorate dishes. The Philippine limes also have seeds, with each fruit coming with eight to twelve individual seeds.
The finger lime (Microcitrus australasica) is perhaps the most unusual type of lime. Also known as the caviar lime or Australian finger lime, the fruit takes on a much different shape than other types of limes. It is cylindrical in shape, with a long frame and a bumpy, rough sin. It also has an apex at one end.
The flesh of a finger lime looks like small pearls of caviar instead of the usual oblong fruit juice sac that most citrus fruits have. The juice is sour, although it has a refreshing aftertaste.
Note that the finger lime is seedless. While it comes in different color varieties, it is entirely seedless.
The blood lime is an amalgam of the red finger and the “Ellendale Mandarin” (itself a cross of the orange and the mandarin fruit. It is also an unusual type of lime, thanks in part to its sweet taste and red color.
Compared to the many traditional types of limes, blood limes are relatively small. However, unlike most traditional limes, you can eat the blood lime’s skin along with its flesh.
The blood lime has seeds as well.
Rangpur limes (Citrus jambhiri Lush) are a cross between the mandarin orange and another citron fruit. In some texts, you might see it as a class of the Indian Mandarin lime. While the Rangpur lime looks like a tiny orange, it has an acidic taste that looks close to that of a traditional lime.
The Rangpur limes are primarily used to make marmalade. The limes have seeds as well.
Can You Eat Lime Seeds?
As many of us know, limes are some of the most versatile ingredients when you’re in the kitchen. You can make some lovely lemonade, add some lemons to water or iced tea, or even use a lime as part of an entrée.
Limes are excellent citrus fruits, so they are an ideal source of vitamin C. They also provide strong healing and antioxidant properties.
Now, because lime seeds are small, it can be challenging to avoid swallowing one or two from time to time. Fruits like cherries, apples, and nectarines have fruits that can be pretty poisonous if you consume them in large enough quantities. For instance, apple seeds contain cyanide – a substance that is lethal to humans. So, what about limes?
To allay any fears, you won’t have any effects when you eat lime seeds. They are not in the same family as the fruits named above, so their seeds aren’t considered dangerous. However, note that digesting lime seeds might be problematic for people with digestive disorders like diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Lime seeds are also not poisonous or dangerous for pets, although like humans, your pet could show some reactions if it has a digestive issue.
- There are variations of limes that have seeds.
- The Persian limes are by far the most commercially available. These limes don’t have seeds because they are made without fertilization.
- Lime seeds aren’t dangerous for consumption, although they can cause some issues for people with digestive disorders.