Calamansi

Calamansi is found everywhere in the Philippines! From neighborhood homes and gardens, to the palengke and large supermarkets.

Calamansi photo by Marco Antonio / Pexels.com.

Calamansi is a hybrid (or result of a cross-pollination) of a kumquat and a mandarin orange 1. Hybridization is how many of the fruits and vegetables we enjoy today came to be 2. Calamansi is actually one of many different kinds of citrus trees now native to the Philippines 3.

Know your roots little Calamansi!
How hand-pollination works to make hybrids like calamansi. The flowers of kumquats, mandarin oranges, and calamansi look almost identical.

Calamansi and all other citrus fruit trees were discovered to be from one specific place: the foothills of the Himalayan mountains 1. Eventually citrus trees found their way around the world thanks to the humans who love them. Calamansi and its citrus cousins eventually found their way to the Philippines.

Where did our calamansi, oranges, and lemons come from? This image shows the origin of citrus plants and their ancient dispersal routes starting around the late Miocene, or at least 5 million years ago 1. Image & data from Genomics of the origin and evolution of Citrus by Guohong Albert Wu, et al, 2018.

Calamansi is used in everything. It is used as a condiment mixed with patis, sili, suka, and/or toyo. It is also used for desserts, marinades for various dishes, and flavoring for different kinds of pansit. Calamansi can be refreshing on a warm day as a cold beverage, or on a cool morning in Baguio or Bukidnon as a hot tea. It is used in juices, jams, concentrates, purees, candies, and more.

People aren’t the only ones who LOVE calamansi. A species of butterfly now common in the Philippines does too: the Lime Swallowtail!

It lays its eggs on the leaves of citrus trees, like calamansi 4. Its young caterpillars then eat the calamansi leaves before they pupate and turn into butterflies! Oddly, the caterpillars look like bird or tuko (house gecko) poo! 4

Learn more about the Lime Swallowtail at Philippine Wildlife Art!

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Sources

  1. G. Wu, et al, 2018. Genomics of the origin and evolution of Citrus. Nature, International journal of science.
  2. T. Lewis, 2018. “Here’s What Fruits And Vegetables Looked Like Before We Domesticated Them.” Sciencealert.com. Last accessed June 12, 2019.
  3. P. Wester, 1915. Citrus fruits in the Philippines. The Philippine Agricultural Review. www.gutenberg.org/files/35816/35816-h/35816-h.htm
  4. A. Talavera et al. Philippine Lepidoptera. https://philippinelepidopt.wixsite.com/butterflies/copy-of-papilionidae-swallowtails (Last accessed June 1, 2019).
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