Kumquats (/ˈkʌmkwɒt/ KUM-kwot),[1] or cumquats in Australian English, are a group of small, angiosperm, fruit-bearing trees in the family Rutaceae. Their taxonomy is disputed. They were previously classified as forming the now-historical genus Fortunella or placed within Citrus, sensu lato. Different classifications have alternatively assigned them to anywhere from a single species, C. japonica, to numerous species representing each cultivar. Recent genomic analysis defines three pure species, Citrus hindsii, C. margarita and C. crassifolia, with C. x japonica being a hybrid of the last two.

Scientific classification
C. japonica
Binomial name
Citrus japonica
"Kumquat" in Chinese characters
Chinese name
Literal meaning"golden orange"
Vietnamese name
Vietnamesekim quất
Thai name
Korean name
Japanese name
Nepali name
Nepaliमुन्तला (muntala)

The edible fruit closely resembles the orange (Citrus sinensis) in color, texture, and anatomy, but is much smaller, being approximately the size of a large olive. The kumquat is a fairly cold-hardy citrus.

Etymology edit

The English word kumquat is a borrowing of the Cantonese gām gwāt (IPA: [kɐ́m kʷɐ́t̚]; Chinese: 金橘), from gām "golden" + gwāt "orange".[2]

Origin edit

The kumquat plant is native to Southern China.[3][4] The historical reference to kumquats appears in literature of China from at least the 12th century.[5] They have been cultivated for centuries in other parts of East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.[6] They were introduced into Europe in 1846 by Robert Fortune, collector for the London Horticultural Society,[7] and are now found across the world.[6]

Description edit

Illustration by Walter Hood Fitch

Kumquat plants have thornless branches and extremely glossy leaves. They bear dainty white flowers that occur in clusters or individually inside the leaf axils. The plants can reach a height from 2.5 to 4.5 metres (8.2 to 14.8 ft), with dense branches, sometimes bearing small thorns.[5] They bear yellowish-orange fruits that are oval or round in shape. The fruits can be 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) in diameter and have a sweet, pulpy skin and slightly acidic inner pulp. The fruit is often eaten whole by humans, and has a taste which is sweet, tart and also somewhat sour.[6] Kumquat trees are self-pollinating. Kumquats can tolerate both frigid and hot temperatures.[citation needed]

Nutrition edit

Kumquats, raw
Fortunella spp.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy296 kJ (71 kcal)
15.9 g
Sugars9.36 g
Dietary fiber6.5 g
0.86 g
1.88 g
Vitamin A equiv.
15 μg
129 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.037 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.09 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.429 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.208 mg
Vitamin B6
0.036 mg
Folate (B9)
17 μg
8.4 mg
Vitamin C
43.9 mg
Vitamin E
0.15 mg
62 mg
0.86 mg
20 mg
0.135 mg
19 mg
186 mg
10 mg
0.17 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water82 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

A raw kumquat is 81% water, 16% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and 1% fat (table). In a reference amount of 100 grams (3.5 oz), raw kumquat supplies 71 calories and is a rich source of vitamin C (53% of the Daily Value), with no other micronutrients in significant content (table).

Varieties edit

Citrus taxonomy is complicated and controversial. Different systems place various types of kumquats in different species or unite them into as few as two species. Botanically, many of the varieties of kumquats are classified as their own species, rather than a cultivar.[citation needed] Historically they were viewed as falling within the genus Citrus, but the Swingle system of citrus taxonomy elevated them to their own genus, Fortunella. Recent phylogenetic analysis suggests they do fall within Citrus. Swingle divided the kumquats into two subgenera, the Protocitrus, containing the primitive Hong Kong kumquat, and Eufortunella, comprising the round, oval kumquat, Meiwa kumquats,[8] to which Tanaka added two others, the Malayan kumquat and the Jiangsu kumquat. Chromosomal analysis suggested that Swingle's Eufortunella represent a single 'true' species, while Tanaka's additional species were revealed to be likely hybrids of Fortunella with other Citrus, so-called xCitrofortunella.[9]

One recent genomic analysis concluded there was only one true species of kumquat, but the analysis did not include the Hong Kong variety seen as a distinct species in all earlier analyses.[10] A 2020 review concluded that genomic data were insufficient to reach a definitive conclusion on which kumquat cultivars represented distinct species.[11] In 2022, a genome-level analysis of cultivated and wild varieties drew several conclusions. The authors found support for the division of kumquats into subgenera: Protocitrus, for the wild Hong Kong variety, and Eufortunella for the cultivated varieties, with a divergence predating the end of the Quaternary glaciation, perhaps between two ancestral populations isolated south and north, respectively, of the Nanling mountain range. Within the latter group, the oval, round and Meiwa kumquat each showed a level of divergence greater than between other recognized citrus species, such as between pomelo and citron, and hence each merits species-level classification. Though Swingle had speculated that the Meiwa kumquat was a hybrid of oval and round kumquats, the genomic analysis suggested instead that the round kumquat was an oval/Meiwa hybrid.[12]

Hong Kong kumquat edit

Hong Kong kumquat

The Hong Kong kumquat (Citrus hindsii or Fortunella hindsii) produces only pea-sized bitter and acidic fruit with very little pulp and large seeds. It is primarily grown as an ornamental plant, though it is also found in southern China growing in the wild.[13][14] Not only is it the most primitive of the kumquats, but with kumquats being the most primitive citrus, Swingle described it as the closest to the ancestral species from which all citrus evolved.[8] While the wild Hong Kong kumquat is tetraploid, there is a commercial diploid variety, the Golden Bean kumquat, with slightly larger fruit.[14]

Meiwa kumquat edit

The Meiwa kumquat (Citrus crassifolia or Fortunella crassifolia) was brought to Japan from China at the end of the 19th century. It is a hybrid of Nagami and Marumi. It has seedy oval fruits and thick leaves and was characterized as a different species by Swingle.[8] Its fruit is typically eaten skin and all. [15]

Oval kumquat edit

The oval kumquat or Nagami kumquat (Citrus margarita or Fortunella margarita if dividing Eufortunella kumquats into separate species) is ovoid in shape and typically eaten whole, skin and all.[3] The inside is still quite sour, but the skin has a very sweet flavour, so when eaten together an unusual tart-sweet, refreshing flavour is produced. The fruit ripens mid- to late winter and always crops very heavily, creating a spectacular display against the dark green foliage. The tree tends to be much smaller and dwarf in nature, making it ideal for pots and occasionally bonsai cultivation.[16]

'Centennial Variegated' kumquat

The 'Centennial Variegated' kumquat cultivar arose spontaneously from the oval kumquat. It produces a greater proportion of fruit to peel than the oval kumquat, and the fruit are rounder and sometimes necked. Fruit are distinguishable by their variegation in color, exhibiting bright green and yellow stripes,[3] and by its lack of thorns.[citation needed]

Round kumquat edit

The round kumquat, Marumi kumquat, or Morgani kumquat (retaining the name Citrus japonica or Fortunella japonica when kumquats are divided into multiple species) is an evergreen tree that produces edible golden-yellow fruit.[3] The fruit is small and usually spherical but can be oval-shaped. The peel has a sweet flavor, but the fruit has a distinctly sour center. The fruit can be eaten cooked but is mainly used to make marmalades, jellies, and other spreads. The tree can be used in bonsai cultivation. The plant symbolizes good luck in China, where it is often kept as a houseplant and given as a gift during the Lunar New Year in China. Round kumquats are more commonly cultivated than other species due to their high cold tolerance.[3]

Jiangsu kumquat edit

The Jiangsu kumquat or Fukushu kumquat (Citrus obovata or Fortunella obovata) bears edible fruit that can be eaten raw, as well as made into jelly and marmalade. The fruit can be round or bell-shaped and is bright orange when fully ripe. The plant can be distinguished from other kumquats by its distinctly round leaves. It is typically grown for its edible fruit and as an ornamental plant; it cannot withstand frost, however, unlike the round kumquat which has a high cold tolerance. These kumquats are often seen near the Yuvraj section of the Nayak Province. Chromosomal analysis showed this variety to be a likely hybrid.[9]

Malayan kumquat edit

The Malayan kumquat (Fortunella polyandra or Tanaka's Fortunella swinglei - in Citrus it would be C. x swinglei), from the Malay Peninsula where it is known as the "hedge lime" (limau pagar), is another hybrid, perhaps a limequat.[9][17] It has a thin peel on larger fruit compared to other kumquats.[17]

Cultivation edit

Kumquats are much hardier than citrus plants such as oranges. Sowing seed in the spring is most ideal because the temperature is pleasant with more chances of rain and sunshine. This also gives the tree enough time to become well established before winter. Early spring is the best time to transplant a sapling. They do best in direct sunlight (needing 6–7 hours a day) and planted directly in the ground. Kumquats do well in USDA hardy zones 9 and 10 and can survive in temperatures as low as 18 degrees F (-7 degrees C). On trees mature enough, kumquats will form in about 90 days.

In cultivation in the UK, Citrus japonica has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit[18] (confirmed 2017).[19]

Propagation and pollination edit

Kumquats do not grow well from seeds and so are vegetatively propagated by using rootstock of another citrus fruit,[3] air layering, or cuttings.[3]

Composition edit

The essential oil of the kumquat peel contains much of the aroma of the fruit, and is composed principally of limonene, which makes up around 93% of the total.[20] Besides limonene and alpha-pinene (0.34%), both of which are considered monoterpenes, the oil is unusually rich (0.38% total) in sesquiterpenes such as α-bergamotene (0.021%), caryophyllene (0.18%), α-humulene (0.07%) and α-muurolene (0.06%), and these contribute to the spicy and woody flavor of the fruit. Carbonyl compounds make up much of the remainder, and these are responsible for much of the distinctive flavor. These compounds include esters such as isopropyl propanoate (1.8%) and terpinyl acetate (1.26%); ketones such as carvone (0.175%); and a range of aldehydes such as citronellal (0.6%) and 2-methylundecanal. Other oxygenated compounds include nerol (0.22%) and Trans-lialool oxide (0.15%).[20]

Hybrids edit

Hybrid forms of the kumquat include the following:

Gallery edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Kumquat". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Kumquat". Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper. 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Julia F Morton (1987). "Kumquat, Fortunella sp. Swingle; In: Fruits of Warm Climates, Miami, FL". NewCROP, New Crop Resource Online Program, Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Purdue University. pp. 182–185. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Citrus japonica". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.
  5. ^ a b "Kumquat (Citrus japonica)" (PDF). Florida Gulf Coast University. Florida. 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Experts from Dole Food Company; Experts from The Mayo Clinic; Experts from UCLA Center for H (2002). Encyclopedia of Foods: A Guide to Healthy Nutrition. Elsevier. p. 182. ISBN 9780080530871.
  7. ^ "Robert Fortune". The Royal Parks. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  8. ^ a b c Swingle, Walter T. (1915). "A new genus, Fortunella, comprising four species of kumquat oranges". Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 5 (5): 165–176. JSTOR 24520657.
  9. ^ a b c Yasuda, Kiichi; Yahata, Masaki; Kunitake, Hisato (2015). "Phylogeny and Classification of Kumquats (Fortunella spp.) Inferred from CMA Karyotype Composition". The Horticultural Journal. 85 (2): 115–121. doi:10.2503/hortj.MI-078.
  10. ^ Wu, Guohong Albert; Terol, Javier; Ibanez, Victoria; López-García, Antonio; Pérez-Román, Estela; Borredá, Carles; Domingo, Concha; Tadeo, Francisco R; Carbonell-Caballero, Jose; Alonso, Roberto; Curk, Franck; Du, Dongliang; Ollitrault, Patrick; Roose, Mikeal L. Roose; Dopazo, Joaquin; Gmitter Jr, Frederick G.; Rokhsar, Daniel; Talon, Manuel (2018). "Genomics of the origin and evolution of Citrus". Nature. 554 (7692): 311–316. Bibcode:2018Natur.554..311W. doi:10.1038/nature25447. PMID 29414943.
  11. ^ Ollitrault, Patrick; Curk, Franck; Krueger, Robert (2020). "Citrus taxonomy". In Talon, Manuel; Caruso, Marco; Gmitter, Fred G Jr. (eds.). The Citrus Genus. Elsevier. pp. 57–81. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-812163-4.00004-8. ISBN 9780128121634. S2CID 242819146.
  12. ^ Zhu, Chenqiao; et al. (2022). "New insights into the phylogeny and speciation of kumquat (Fortunella ssp.) based on chloroplast SNP, nuclear SSR and whole-genome sequencing". Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering. 9 (4): 627. doi:10.15302/J-FASE-2021436. S2CID 247640336.
  13. ^ "Varieties of kumquats, hybrids". Los Angeles Times. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Hong Kong,Fortunella hindsii, Champ. ex Benth". U.C. Riverside Citrus Variety Collection. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  15. ^ Hesser, Amanda. "The Way We Eat: Skin Deep". The New York Times Magazine. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
  16. ^ Dillon, Floyd C. (September 1961). "Dwarf Citrus in Tubs". Plants & Gardens. New Series. Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 17 (2): 59.
  17. ^ a b "Fortunella polyandra Malayan". U.C. Riverside Citrus Variety Collection. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  18. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Citrus japonica". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  19. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 16. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  20. ^ a b Koyasako, A.; Bernhard, R.A. (1983). "Volatile Constituents of the Essential Oil of Kumquat". Journal of Food Science. Wiley & Sons. 48 (6): 1807–1812. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.1983.tb05090.x.
  21. ^ Citrofortunella microcarpa". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 1 June 2014.

Further reading edit

External links edit