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Main de Bouddha (Citrus medica) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Agnès Iatzoura
Main de Bouddha (Citrus medica) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Agnès Iatzoura

Fingered citron

Despite the distinctive shape of the fruit, which resembles a human hand, and, more specifically, a hand in Buddhist prayer position, which earned it the name Buddha's hand, it is in fact an edible citrus fruit.

Identity Card

Common name
fingered citron, Buddha’s hand citron
Binominal name
Citrus medica L. « Sarcodactylis »



Detailed Informations

Area of origin


Citrus is the Latin word for citrus fruit. Medica is pertaining to the Mèdes People, who are thought to have first brought the plant to the Mediterranean basin. Sarcodactylis comes from Greek "sarkos", fleshy and "dactylos" fingers.

Description and flowering period

Fingered citron is a variety of citron (Citrus medica) which has been cultivated for centuries. This shrub, which reaches between 2 and 5 meters in height, can have slightly to densely thorny branches. It has persistent, oblong to elliptical light green leaves. They are about 10cm long and release a strong citrus scent when bruised. The heavily scented flowers are borne in rounded clusters. They are small and contain 5 white petals (pink on their underside) and about 20 yellow stamens. Despite the fruit’s peculiar shape, reminiscent of a human hand, sometimes in the Buddhist prayer position – hence its common name – fingered citron is definitely a citrus. This cultivar is the result of a citrus tree mutation which induced a division of the fruit into different finger-like sections. The forms are many: from a closed to partially opened and fully opened hand. Once mature, the fruits take a bright yellow or yellow-orange coloration. The fruit’s flesh is white, the skin is thick and the pulp – if present – is barely sour. This citrus tree does not produce any juice nor seeds.


It requires sandy and well-drained soil in full sun. It needs frequent watering and is best suited for temperate climates. It is intolerant to excessive heat, drought and frost.


  • Ornamental.
  • Cultural: The fruits are a common offering in Buddhist temples. They are also used in Japan and China as air fresheners in rooms and closets.
  • Culinary uses: Zest is used as seasoning in salads, chopped up fruit fingers are added to brighten up savoury and sweet dishes as well as alcoholic beverages, zest can also be candied and used to make jams and preserves. 

Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN