Buddha's Hand, Buddha's Hand citron, or Fingered citron (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylus) is a fragrant citrus fruit. It grows on a shrub or small tree with long, irregular branches covered in thorns. Its large, oblong leaves are pale green and grow about four to six inches. Its flowers are white or purplish and grow in fragrant clusters.
The fruit itself is a type of citron and is often described as lemon-like or lemon-esque. The fruit is segmented into finger-like sections. It has a thick peel and a small amount of acidic flesh and is seedless and juiceless. It is very fragrant and is used predominantly by the Chinese and Japanese for perfuming rooms and personal items, such as clothing.
The peel of the fruit can be candied into succade. In Western cooking, it is often used for its zest. The inner white pith is not bitter as is usually the case with citrus, so the fingers may be cut off and then longitudinally sliced, peel pith and all, and used in salads or scattered over cooked foods such as fish.
The fruit may be given as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. According to tradition, Buddha prefers the "fingers" of the fruit to be in a position where they resemble a closed rather than open hand, as closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer.
The tree itself is sensitive to frost, as well as intense heat and drought. It grows best in temperate conditions. Areas such as the coast of Southern California as well as inland valleys are considered ideal for its planting. Trees can be grown from cuttings taken from branches two to four years old. One must bury the cuttings (replete with foliage) deep in the soil.
It is thought that in some areas it is given the name goblin fingers due to the frightening aspect of the "open" position.