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Aug 19, 2001 11:53 AM

Are kaffir lime plants illegal in the US? (grow your own lemongrass!)

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I want to grow one in a pot next to my lemongrass

Whenever I've asked Thai grocers or asian florists if they knew where I can get a kaffir lime plant, they say "no", turn their heads and put their hands in the air like a celebrity dodging the papparazzi.

Anyone know the deal?

I can find kaffir lime leaves no problem (though they are rarely as fresh as I'd like). Long shot, but does anyone know if it's possible to propagate a kaffir lime plant from a leaf, as I know one can do with certain plants? (here come the stem cell jokes :)

btw, if you like to cook Thai, grow your own lemongrass. It grows very well with minimal worries and you won't pay $5 for a few stalks every time you need it. Just shove a fresh stalk bought at the grocer in some potting soil, put it near a window in your kitchen and it will keep you happy for a long time. Plus, you can use the tender upper leaves that the grocer trimms off. The aroma and taste of freshly-slaughtered lemongrass is incomparable!!


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  1. You can buy kaffir lime trees at nursery's here in the SF Bay Area and we actually saw some for sale at the Oakland Farmer's market on Friday as well (where we also got huge bunches of lemongrass for $1).

    I have included a link below to Kasma Loha-unchit's website Thai Cooking and Travel - that lists some mail order suppliers of Thai seeds, plants. You might run into regulations/restrictions depending on the state, but it's a start! Good luck!


    1 Reply
    1. re: Celery

      No they are not illegal, just obscure. I have bought two kaffir limes very happily by mail order- from Four Winds Growers, in California. They are on dwarfing rootstock. They have other interesting citrus too. The same grower supplies Shepherd Seeds/White Flower Farms with their kaffir lime plants.

      There is at least one other supplier that I know of -mentioned at the end of a long yuzu thread. Enjoy!


    2. Dave, I suggest you call your county extention office. I ask mine all sorts of things, I pull unfamiliar weeds in my garden and drag them in for ID, even. They should be current on what plants are ok for your area & needed growing conditions and where you can purchase them.

      I also grow lemongrass, not indoors, but in two large clumps in my herb garden.

      Speaking of my garden, I had 20 watermelons! it is paradise. They are small but very sweet. I'm still getting okra and tomatoes every day as well.

      1. I came across an article on kaffir leaves and it mentioned that the term 'kaffir' is offensive in some cultures and the term 'makrut' would be a better choice of word....this may be a reason why some thai grocers arnt helpful in finding kaffir leaves.

        1. Kaffir lime is, as the name implies, a citrus, so it would be propagated like other citrus, probably through grafting. I don't think a leaf cutting will get you very far.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Snackish

            Kaffir lime plants are readily available now through mailorder from quite a number of sources, but linked below is the one I recommend highly for this and other citrus. they grow it on a dwarfing rootstock which means you will get plenty of leaves without winding up with an unmanageable tree. they send very nice plants at a good price.

            Very occasionally Ive seen these plants in thai groceres, but only very occasionally.


          2. This is an old thread but I just wanted to comment on why they seem so mysterious about sources. One dwarf Keifer lime will produce enough leaves and fruits for half a dozen families. The grocers don't want to lose that many customers for a relatively expensive item.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hoodat

              and as a side note, the majority of the Keifer lime leaves you find in US markets are now grown in California.