I Think I Shall Name Him… Kal!


I’ve been on a mission as of late.  I’ve been scouring Asian markets, inquiring over the phone to my grandmother, and tip-toeing through my mom’s garden. I’ve been looking for a tree, a tree that is abundant in the Philippines yet elusive, at least to me, here in SoCal.  I’ve been searching high and low for a Kalamansi tree.

The fruit of the Kalamansi tree resembles a tiny, miniature orange, yet produces a sour juice similar to that of a lime.  A squeeze, a squirt, or a spritz of its nectar brightens up any dish – from pancit, to miki, to fish.  I needed these mini spheres of sourness in my kitchen.

After my initial searches turned up fruitless (Ha!), I did the next logical thing, I Googled it.  Google, I love you so!  I found out that I could either order a Kalamansi tree online and have it delivered to me, or I could check out the nursery of my local hardware store.  Now while the logistics of having a tree shipped to my doorstep intrigued me, I figured I would visit my hardware store first just to be sure.

I had very low expectations when I ventured out to the hardware store; I was fairly certain a Kalamansi tree had no business being there.  A citrus tree indigenous to the Philippines sharing a nursery with ficus, ferns, and garden gnomes in a common hardware store?!! Pinoy, please!

Although I did see many a ficus, fern, and garden gnome, I was surprised to see a “citrus” section in the hardware nursery.  A glimmer of hope.

There seemed to be endless rows of blood oranges and limes.  But no Kalamansi. I was beginning to feel defeated, and then…

“Pssst!” I heard him say to me as I walked past.

“Pssssssst!” I heard the familiar call again.

“Pssssssssssst! Hoy!”

And there he was, a lone Filipino hidden behind Meyer Lemons and Valencia Oranges. I had found the one and only Kalamansi tree in the nursery.  Woohoo!

He was a little guy, and had no orange globes hanging from his limbs yet.  But I quickly swiped him up, you know, in case there were other schizophrenic Filipinos there besides myself.


I took him home and gave him some water.  That’s me and him in the picture above (You are entranced by my legs and crotch! Obey me!).

I promptly named him Kal. Kaladocious Kalamansi IV.  Yes, he is my first Kalamansi tree, but
he’s a dwarf, so I had to help his already self-defeating disposition
by giving him an important-sounding name.  Hopefully he’ll get over his
dwarf issues and start producing me some fruit.  If he doesn’t, I’ll
point and laugh at him and call him Webster.


The countdown begins!  You’re on the clock Kal, so start crankin out the Kalamansi!

  • Chad Rowdy April 2, 2007, 3:10 pm

    The tree is almost as pretty as your legs and crotch. Almost.

  • Burnt Lumpia April 2, 2007, 8:53 pm

    Once again, thank you Chad. While I appreciate the compliment, Kal is a bit saddened.

  • elmomonster April 4, 2007, 8:52 am

    WOW! You know my mom uses this for a lot of Indonesian dishes. I knew of Calamansi in that Filipino drink, but never realized that it was the same fruit I’ve been enjoying in Indonesian Sambal and Kankung Pecel all my life.
    Kudos for finding it at a hardware store!

  • elmomonster April 4, 2007, 8:53 am

    Okay, that comment went through. I guess it was plain ol’ user error the last time! 😉

  • Burnt Lumpia April 5, 2007, 6:37 am

    Thanks Elmo. I’m hoping it’s not long until it starts bearing fruit.

  • Katrina April 17, 2007, 12:36 am

    Hi, I found your blog through Dessert Comes First. I can relate to your voyage of discovery of Pinoy food. Like your brother, I myself used to think I wasn’t a fan — and I live in the Philippines! But reading about it in food blogs like Market Manila has enlivened my interest and appreciation of the food I grew up with.
    This post just made me realize that I don’t think I’ve ever seen orange kalamansi before; only green. I suppose it turns that color when ripe, and I’ve only ever seen it unripe? Have you tasted it once it’s orange, is it sweeter?
    By the way, you’re hilarious! I’ll be coming back for sure…that is, unless you get sick of my frequent comments and block me. 😉

  • Burnt Lumpia April 17, 2007, 8:24 am

    Thanks Katrina. I’m glad someone is laughing out there. And I’ve wondered about green Kalamansi as well. In all my pinoy cookbooks and in all my online searches, they seem to be always green, but here in the U.S. I’ve always had it orange. It’s still very sour when it is orange, but as soon as Kal bears some fruit I will experiment with both.

  • Penang Nyonya April 17, 2007, 7:39 pm

    Where did you buy the Kalamansi tree from? I’ve been looking for one too but have not been successful. I’m also in SoCal.

  • Burnt Lumpia April 17, 2007, 8:06 pm

    Penang, I found the Kalamansi tree at Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH). The company that distributes them is fourwindsgrowers.com. You can also mail order from fourwinds. Good luck in your search.

  • raissa September 14, 2007, 11:10 am

    Oh better make sure you got the real kind because my aunt thought she got a kalamansi tree only to find out later it was some hybrid thing. I think after some time you have to take it out of the pot. My uncle was able to successfully grow a kalamansi tree even under the Vegas heat and we get our supply from him LOL
    nothing is better than kalamansi for that beef steak marinade. Lemon just doesnt cut it.

  • joy September 14, 2007, 10:33 pm

    im glad that Kalamansi tree can be found in the USA.
    i used to work for a promotions agency, and it was our task to promote philippine products aboard.
    one of the banner products is Kalamansi. so happy that slowly Philippine products in gaining recognition thru people like you.

  • Burnt Lumpia September 16, 2007, 10:31 pm

    hi raissa, i’m pretty sure I’ve got the real thing, but I am having some trouble growing my kalamansi.
    hi joy, I’m glad I could do my part to promote products from the Philippines.

  • raissa September 17, 2007, 11:03 am

    I will ask my uncle how he did it or my grandma. We need more kalamansi here in SoCal.

  • oc_chick12 November 12, 2007, 8:17 pm

    Dude! I was looking for a Kalamansi tree and I googled it online and I came across your website. I live right by a OSH… I’m so gonna check it out tomorrow.

  • wren February 26, 2008, 10:32 am

    Your writing style is great.. Really funny.. I used to raid my neighbors tree on Guam.. Now I want my own

  • lalaine December 1, 2008, 4:51 pm

    You actually do have nice legs. Not overly hairy and scary.

  • Dario R Gaspar March 27, 2009, 1:02 am

    I have lots of kalamansi in ourplace but it is in bataan…we are growers..my father inlaw has a skil in budding and markotting…I have lots of photos of kalamansi small plan and grown one.

  • Omon Maravilla April 5, 2009, 1:01 am

    make sure you use scissors to cut stem from plant, Kalamansi is extremey sensitve when it comes to puling off friut from plant, or else it withers away from pain.

  • Denise Sakaki July 30, 2009, 1:01 pm

    Oh lordy, the tree is lovely and the blog has me laughing at my desk at work. A Superman and Webster reference all in one post? Genius. By the way, I love the blog as a whole — I had to add it to my blogroll!


Leave a Comment