503 Fortunella sppCommon Names: kumquat, nagami kumquat, meiwa kumquat Family: Rutaceae (citrus Family)
Kumquats are rounded, densely branched little trees rarely exceeding 8-10 ft (2.4-3.1 m) in height. The evergreen leaves are glossy, 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) long and half as wide. The fragrant flowers appear in late spring, and are followed by showy bright orange sweet/sour fruits in fall. The fruits of nagami kumquats are oblong, about 2 in (5.1 cm) long, with sweet rinds and sour interiors. Meiwa kumquats have round fruit, about 1.5 in (3.8 cm) in diameter with sour rinds and sweet pulp. Two other species of kumquats with smaller fruits are rarely seen in the US.
Both Fortunella margarita and F. crassifolia Kumquats are native to China and have been cultivated in Europe and the US since the 1800's.
CultureLike most citrus varieties, kumquats can be started from seed, but are usually grafted onto special rootstocks in order to confer particular characteristics such as disease resistance, increased cold hardiness, or faster maturation. Unless you live where winter temperatures never fall below 10-15ºF (-12.2 - -9.4ºC), you should plant kumquats and other citrus varieties where they will be convenient to protect, preferably on the south side of a heated building. If a hard freeze is predicted, simply cover the tree with a blanket and burn a light bulb inside the "tent." Kumquats do best in full sun, but they will produce under a large oak or pine, where they get additional freeze protection. Kumquats are among the easiest fruit trees to maintain. Once established, they shouldn't need supplemental watering and they won't need spraying. Even the squirrels don't seem to bother them! Light: Does best in full sun, but does pretty well in partial sun. Moisture: Provide average moisture. Water during dry periods while in bloom or fruit is developing. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 10. They are among the most cold-hardy of the edible citrus varieties being hardy to 10ºF (-12.2ºC), and can be grown throughout the Gulf Coast in USDA zone 9 and lower zone 8, needing protection on only the coldest nights. Propagation: Grafting onto hardy rootstock.
Little kumquat trees with their shiny green foliage and bright orange fruits are delightful in the landscape, and they do well in containers too. The fruits remain on the tree, fresh and juicy, from October to March. Throughout the winter, you can get a dose of vitamin C every time you pass by this ornamental citrus!
Kumquats are excellent eating right off the tree. Eat the whole thing and spit out the seeds. Or, make marmalade:
Use good and ripe kumquats, either Nagami or Meiwa, and one lemon for each 2 quarts of kumquats. You?ll need a knife, cutting board, colander and bowl. Take a comfortable seat. Place the colander in the bowl. Slice each kumquat in half and squeeze the seeds into the colander, then put the rest of the fruit in the bowl. Do the same with the lemons. Discard the seeds. Cut the fruit into thin slices. (I run it through a food processor.) Cover the fruit with water and let stand overnight in a cool place. Next day, bring the fruit and water to a boil and simmer gently until the fruit is tender, about 2 hours. Measure the mixture and add an equal amount of sugar, and continue cooking until the jellying point is reached. This should take 10-30 minutes of slow boiling after the sugar was added. Ladle the hot marmalade into sterilized canning jars and seal. (My marmalade doesn't always jell like it should, but it gets thicker afterwards and who doesn't like kumquat syrup?)
This could make you famous!
Steve Christman 06/07/98; updated 12/5/99, 11/24/03, 12/14/04, 1/26/05, 11/13/08