Buddha hand fruit tree

Have you ever heard of Buddha’s Hand? It may sound like a religious object but it’s actually a fruit. Once you see a Buddha’s Hand, you’ll never forget it. It looks like a cross between a sea creature and a gnarly witch’s hand. It certainly doesn’t look like any other fruit you’ve ever seen. However, it does taste like fruit that is probably quite familiar to you. Let’s learn all about Buddha’s Hand along with 5 great ways to use it (and they are not all about eating it).

Contents

What Is It?

Charles Haynes/Flickr

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Buddha’s Hand is a form of the citron, one of the four original citrus fruits from which most other citrus types are thought to have developed from. Technically known as Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis, Buddha’s Hand is also sometimes called “the fingered citron.” It is also closely related to the lemon.

It is segmented into finger-like sections so that it looks like a human hand. The “fingers” of the fruit run along a gradient from open hands where the segments are spread out to closed types where the segments are close together. According to tradition, Buddha prefers the closed hand because it symbolizes the act of prayer.

Where Does It Come From?

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Seth Vidal/Flickr

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The fruit is native to China and the lower Himalayas. Some scholars believe Buddhist monks carried the fruit from India to China around the 4th century A.D. while others believe it naturally developed in the Yangtze Valley from another type of citron. In China, where it is called “fo-shou” and in Japan, where it is called “bushukan,” this fruit is served around the New Year and is offered at temples as gifts because it is believed to symbolize happiness, good fortune and longevity. The scent, which is similar to lavender, made the plant popular for ornamental purposes as well as a source of perfume for clothing and the home.

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In the 1980s, Buddha’s Hand was first grown in California. Buddha’s Hand is in season between September and February. It grows on a tree that can range from 6 to 12 feet high and is quite a sight. The tree is often used in gardens and on patios and terraces for decoration.

What Does It Taste Like?

Buddha’s Hand smells sweet, a bit lemony and similar to lavender. It has no juice, seeds or pulp. The oily pith, unlike in other fruits where it can be bitter, is sweet. The fruit can be used whole or can be zested.

Where Do I Find It?

You can find Buddha’s Hand at farmers’ markets, Asian groceries and other specialty produce markets. It runs from $5 to $24 per lb.

How Do I Select and Store It?

Choose Buddha’s Hands that are bright, firm and have a sweet aroma. Avoid blemishes, moldy spots or shriveled fingers. Store at room temperature or in a cool place for up to two weeks. It can last up to a month if refrigerated.

What Can I Do With It?

1. Use the Zest and Peel

Basically, you can use Buddha’s Hand wherever you would have used lemon zest or thinly sliced peel. Add it to desserts, dressings, marinades, salads or atop vegetables. For instance, my Citrus Cilanto Dressing is a combination of sweet and tangy. Just substitute Buddha’s Hand zest for the lemon zest. Blend together 2 Tbs. orange juice, 1 Tbs. lime juice, 1 tsp. Buddha’s Hand zest, 1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro, 1 Tbs. chopped fresh chives, 2 tsp. red wine or apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. I like to use this dressing atop creamy green avocado, sweet yellow mango, spicy arugula, and red bell pepper and red onion slices for a refreshing and fun dish with color and flavor.

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Other recipes where Buddha’s Hand zest can be used include Creamy Lemon Herb Dressing, Lemon Coconut Vanilla Tart, Delicious and Mostly Raw Lemon Cream Pie, Almond Biscotti Re-Imagined, Gluten-Free Lemon Swiss Chard Pasta, Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes and Lemony Chickpea Salad.

2. Make Beautiful Edible Gifts

You can make your own gifts of specialty oils, sugars and salts. Infuse olive oil with Buddha’s Hand zest to make your own specialty oil. Read How to Infuse Your Own Olive Oil with Herbs and Spices for the simple instructions. To make Buddha’s Hand Sugar: Zest the Buddha’s hand and finely chop the zest. You want a few tablespoons worth of zest. Let it dry overnight or place the zest in a very low oven for about 20 minutes. In a bowl, mix 1 cup of sugar with the zest. Transfer to a sealed container and let it sit for about a week for the flavors to intensify.

You can also make your own specialty salts. Use any coarse salt such as kosher salt, sea salt, fleur de sel, or Pink Himalayan salt. Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, mix in 1 tsp. of Buddha’s Hand zest for every ¼ cup of salt. Store the flavored salt into an airtight container and let it sit for 24 hours before using. Present the oils, sugars and salts in pretty labeled jars tied with ribbon for impressive and thoughtful gifts. You might even try infusing bottles of vodka or other liquors with the peel of the fruit.

3. Make Candy

The Buddha’s Hand can be used to make candied citrus peel just like people do with lemons. In fact, Candied Buddha’s Hand has been made for centuries. All you have to do is chop a Buddha’s Hand into cubes and blanch them for about half an hour or until they are translucent. Drain the cubes and then put them in a pot with 1 ½ cups of sugar and 1 cup of water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves to make a syrup. Use a candy thermometer and when the mixture reaches 230 degrees, turn off the heat. Let the mixture rest for an hour. Drain the syrup and reserve in the refrigerator for other uses such as cocktails. Lay the Buddha’s Hand pieces out to dry overnight and then store in an airtight container.

4. Household Uses

Since Buddha’s Hand smells so good, it can be used for the household just like lemon. In fact, people in ancient China and Japan used it to wash their clothes so why not use it in your laundry. Adding the peel of Buddha’s Hand to vinegar can make a disinfecting citrus spray that can make your home clean and smell good. Mix the peel with herbs and spices to make your own potpourri. Check out 10 Easy, Money-Saving Ways to Clean Your House with Fruits and Vegetables for more ideas.

5. Decorative Conversation Starter

Place Buddha’s Hand on your kitchen counter, dining room table or living room coffee table and wait for the questions to start flying at you. Not only is it a decorative and unique centerpiece but it will make the room smell fragrant and lovely.

It’s always fun to learn about new foods. Buddha’s Hand may look strange but with all it’s delicious and fragrant uses, it’s sure to become a new favorite.

Lead Image Source: Buddha’s Hand/Flickr

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It’s Not a Mutant Lemon! Demystifying Buddha’s Hand

Janelle Jones

What is this gnarly fruit? Buddha’s Hand is an extremely fragrant type of citron that’s divided into finger-like sections and only consists of rind — there’s no pulp, juice, or seeds. Also known as fingered citron, Buddha’s Hand is believed to have originated in India and been brought to China by Buddhist monks. The fruit has long been prized in East Asia because it symbolizes happiness and longevity, and it’s often given as an offering in temples and served during Lunar New Year.

Buddha’s Hand wasn’t commercially grown in the U.S. until the 1980s, and according to Sunkist director of communications Joan Wickham, it’s still a “pretty special, niche program. We don’t even market Buddha’s Hand because the quantity grown is so small.” Even so, the curious-looking fruit seems to be popping up in more and more farmers’ markets and grocery stores across the country.

THE BASICS

Similar to other citrus, Buddha’s Hand trees take five to six years to come into production and are relatively low-maintenance. The fruit itself, however, is a different story. According to Wickham, before Buddha’s Hand makes it to a vendor, the fruits have to be hand-cleaned with a brush, a process that takes 15 to 20 minutes each, because cleaning the peel with water would cause them to spoil. The labor involved, plus the rarity of the fruit, means that Buddha’s Hand can get a little pricey once it hits stores — we’ve seen it run anywhere between $8 and $20 per pound. But the good news is that a little goes a long way!

BUYING AND STORING

Buddha’s Hand peaks in the winter months. When it first comes into season, the hand is closed, and the fingers look like the tentacles of an anemone. As the fruit matures, the hand spirals out like an octopus. No matter when you encounter them, always choose fruits with bright, fresh-looking skin and avoid any that have soft spots or weathered bits, which can be a sign that they’ve been on the shelf for a while. Buddha’s Hand can be stored on the counter for up to two weeks and should only be washed just before use.

TO USE AND COOK

The fruit works well in pretty much anything you would use lemon zest for, from pastas and salad dressings to alcohol infusions and cocktails (a Buddha’s Hand twist would elevate a Manhattan, Sazerac, French Martini, you name it!). Or try candying the fruit– the intense flavor will blow you away. Buddha’s Hand can also be used outside of the kitchen — it would make a dramatic addition to a fruit bowl or even a floral arrangement, and as a bonus benefit, perfume the whole house!

What Is Buddha’s Hand Fruit & How Do You Eat It?

It wouldn’t bode well for marketing, but “Medusa’s head” would be just as fitting of a name for this ball of freakish tentacles.

Despite the out of this world appearance, it’s a totally natural and non-GMO fruit that offers creative uses for culinary, and perhaps some health benefits to boot.

What is Buddha’s hand?

Buddha’s hand is natural variation of the regular citron (Citrus medica). Historians believe the fingered variety was brought to China by way of India thanks to traveling Buddhists and hence, the origin of its name. Also known as fingered citron, this yellow fruit splits in segments that look like fingers.

The scientific name for it is Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis. It’s a small tree, ranging from 8 to 15 feet in height, while the dwarf variety is just 5 feet. With a USDA hardiness zone requirement of 10 to 11 to grow successfully, the Buddha’s hand tree is not frost tolerant. Temperatures can’t drop below 40°F (4.4°C).

Its exact history is a bit murky, though evidence points to it making its way to the Far East sometime after the 4th century AD. Following the collapse of the famous Tang dynasty, historical records from the empire of Min (909 to 945 AD) confirm it was in existence and considered to be an important fruit.

There are yellow and green citron fruits of different shapes, with this being the most exotic.

In Traditional Chinese medicine and folklore, it is believed to symbolize happiness, longevity, and wealth. Giving a potted Buddha’s hand tree as a gift for Chinese New Year is believed to bring good fortune to the recipient. It was and still is used as a sacrificial offering at their temples.

In fact, it is such a prized object there, the plant gets depicted in jade, ivory, and wood carvings.

The Japanese Buddhist monk, Myoan Eisai, is believed to be responsible for bringing the tea plant from China to his homeland, where the art of how to make matcha would be born. No one knows who brought the citron Buddha hand to Japan, but it has also been held in high esteem there for centuries. They call it bushukan and it’s popular for their New Years, too.

Sources: Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry (1) (2)

What does it taste like?

Buddha’s hand fruit is edible. The best way to describe its flavor is that of a lemon peel, but without any sourness or bitterness. There is a hint of sweetness, though it’s subtle. With no flesh, pulp, or seeds inside, the fingered citron is practically all rind. There’s no juice or moisture as you experience with most fruits.

Even though the taste is pleasant, the texture is not. It’s like chewing raw eggplant, minus the bitterness. That’s why it’s usually used in recipes rather than eaten as a raw, whole fruit.

What does it smell like?

The smell of fresh Buddha’s hand is lemony and floral. Everyone seems to love it, men included. Setting a whole fruit on the kitchen counter or as a decorative ornament in a room will keep that area smelling like lemon and lavender for up to two weeks’ time.

Many uses of the fruit are based on its pleasant fragrance.

One of which is using it as a table centerpiece, preferably with a few leaves still attached. It serves as both a decorative ornament and an air freshener.

A way to enjoy the fragrance without the fruit is to use Buddha’s hand essential oil. It can be made by steam distilling fruit and extracting the volatile oils. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy this from Doterra, Plant Therapy and the like. It’s not made commercially by those brands nor others.

The next best thing will be oils and fragrances made using citron fruit. After all, both are the same Citrus medica species, albeit different strains.

There is an excellent smelling body lotion from Crabtree & Evelyn that’s scented with citron, honey, and coriander. You can get it on Amazon.

Nutrition facts

As with many rare fruits and vegetables, you won’t find an entry for it among the 225,000 foods in the USDA National Nutrient Database.

Whether it’s scientific literature or that of major suppliers like Frieda’s, no one has published the complete nutritional information for Buddha’s hand. Nor is a company like Frieda’s obligated to do so, because there’s a reporting loophole for produce.

Since the facts haven’t been published for Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis, the best nutritional guidance comes from Citrus medica (regular citron fruit). It doesn’t have fingers but it’s makeup is comparable.

Based on that, these would be the expected nutrition facts for Buddha’s hand citron.

Whether it’s fingered citron or a more regular-looking variety, since they’re basically thick rinds without flesh, the calorie count and grams of sugar will be low, while their fiber content is high.

The 29 calories for a 3.5 oz. fruit will come with around 9g of carbs but very little sugar (fructose).

Because not even citrons are in the USDA database, these facts have to be sourced from other sources. (3) (4)

Health benefits

In Traditional Chinese medicine, dried Buddha’s hand is called Fo Shou or its full pharmaceutical name, Fructus Citri Sarcodactylis.

According to their beliefs, it helps regulate Qi (vital energy) and does so in the liver, lungs, stomach, and spleen. They say it helps to dissolve phlegm and relieve coughing. Fo Shou tea and tinctures are the way it’s typically used in TCM. (5)

In western medicine and science, very little has been published on this plant. It’s not proven to work for anything. These are the health benefits of Buddha hand which have some preliminary research on them:

Nerve regeneration

Scientists in Taiwan have found that when cultured cells were exposed to a water-based Buddha’s hand extract, there was higher expression in fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2). This promoted the growth of Schwann cells, which make the sheath surrounding neuronal axons. The more extract used, the higher the FGF-2 production they saw. (6)

Lower blood sugar

This has never been studied in humans, but researchers have reported that the essential oils in Buddha’s hand appeared to have beneficial effects on blood glucose levels in rats. The main chemical constituents inside the essential oil are:

  • 24% d-limonene
  • 71% gamma-terpenene
  • 40% alpha-pinene
  • 88% beta-pinene

While none of these are unique compounds, the profiles of common essential oils don’t have them in these same percentages. (7)

Anti-inflammatory

South Koreans report that the fruit’s essential oil suppressed inflammation through several mechanisms.

When cultured cells were treated with it, the expression of several enzymatic reactions that cause inflammation were favorably influenced:

  • prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)
  • cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2)
  • tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a)
  • interleukin (IL)-1ß
  • IL-6
  • NF-KB
  • JNK
  • ERK

Some of these anti-inflammatory effects are shared with the capsaicin content in hot sauce. (8)

The Chinese report that the stem and bark extracts also reduce inflammation in lab tests. (9)

Alleviating lump in throat

Globus pharyngis is the medical term for the constant feeling of having a lump in your throat. It’s the feeling you get from a pill or phlegm that’s stuck there. Often times though, nothing is stuck at all, as it’s really just the nerves there giving a false signal.

At Yangzhou University in China, 46 patients were treated with the TCM remedy Fo Shou made from the fruit. The dosage was taken 3 times per day and found to be more effective at alleviating this side effect versus the sore-throat treatment it was pitted against. (10)

How to eat Buddha’s hand

The easiest way to eat Buddha’s hand is to cut it in half as you would a lemon. The thick yellow skin is very nutritious, though eating high amounts may give you a stomach ache. That’s why if you’re eating it raw, you only want small amounts of the skin remaining given how fibrous it is.

Cutting it in very thin slices, like an onion, is a good way to not be overwhelmed by the dull and chewy texture. It also minimizes the amount of yellow rind you are consuming per serving.

If you want to remove the yellow rind entirely, then cutting it into chunks like you would butternut squash is the best way to accomplish that. You can’t skin it like a cucumber or carrot given it’s odd shape.

Even though the flavor of fingered citron is enjoyable – like a lemon without sourness – it’s not a fruit you will want to eat a bowl of. The best use for it is as a presentation piece when you want to wow the people you are serving.

Rather than cutting lengthwise, slicing it like starfruit so you can see the shape will preserve some of its exotic appearance.

The entire fruit of Buddha’s hand can be grated, much like carrots. These shavings can be used to garnish desserts and as a substitute for any recipe that incorporates lemon zest.

Storing the fruit

How to store Buddha’s hand is the same as lemons. If you haven’t cut them yet, then they can be stored at room temperature as long as they are kept away from sources of heat, such as your furnace vent and stove. Don’t store on top of the fridge, because that surface gets hot too.

Refrigerating the fruit will prolong its freshness, however the cold may change the flavor slightly, especially if it’s stored for several days or longer. Remember this tree normally grows in a climate that never drops below 40°F and your refrigerator is a couple degrees cooler than that.

Once it has been cut, refrigeration will be required to avoid the growth of bacteria. Keep it in a closed container to avoid it drying out.

Unlike iceberg lettuce or apples, there is limited water content to begin with, which means that freezing Buddha’s hand is an option for storage. Rather than freeze the whole fruit, your best bet is to first slice, dice, or grate it into the pieces you want and then put those in Ziploc freezer bags.

What to do with Buddha’s hand

1. Use as an edible novelty for parties

Because it’s so expensive, it’s kind of wasteful to use it in a manner that hides its unique appearance. If that’s happening, using plain citron fruit will be cheaper and similar for taste, smell, and the nutrition facts.

This is why however you choose to use it, you will want to showcase its appearance in the process.

Looking like a gnarled hand naturally lends itself to Halloween parties. Or a fun birthday bash. Keep one of them intact, with another sliced into small pieces on the same platter. Preferably sliced like a starfruit, so the novel shape is reiterated.

2. Cook with vegetables

Cooking with Buddha’s hand fruit works best in savory dishes. It adds a lemony zest flavor and the sautéing will make the texture much more palatable, similar to the transformation of eggplant when it’s cooked. Though unlike eggplant, there’s no prep work needed to remove bitterness.

Adding fingered citron to steamed tofu, rice, fish, and pasta are all possibilities. Get creative because any recipe that you think will work with lemon zest will work with Buddha’s hand.

3. Make an herbal tea

With so little liquid inside, you can’t juice it. Buddha hand fruit tea is the only viable way to drink it. The recipe calls for boiling the fruit in water for 10-20 minutes and then screening out the parts so you are left with just the lemon flavored water.

The tea is particularly useful for the odds and ends pieces you have leftover from something else. It’s a way to not waste any of this expensive fruit.

4. Boil for jam and marmalade

It’s a lot of work, but if you’re into making homemade jams and fruit preserves, this is an excellent choice – either by itself or mixed with other fruits.

Before you experiment with a Buddha’s hand recipe for marmalade, it would probably be a good idea to know what it tastes like. After all, since this fruit costs around $10 (or more) a piece, you may be spending $100 just on this one ingredient to make a couple jars!

No one sells marmalade that uses it but to get an idea for what it would taste like, buy some citron marmalade. We have yet to see it for sale at stores in the United States or Canada, though you can pick up a jar on Amazon.

5. Infusion for vodka and cocktails

Absolut Citron has been one of the brand’s bestsellers since its introduction in the 80’s. The official description says “citrus flavor” so who knows if there’s even citron fruit inside. It may be just lemons.

No one sells it but you could make some Buddha’s hand vodka yourself. Dice up the fruit and put it in a sealed Fido jar with an unflavored vodka of your choosing. Store it in the fridge for 7 days and then strain the solids. The recipe is that simple.

Cocktails can be made with it too. Rather than a wedge of a lemon or lime, a piece of fingered citron will certainly be the conversation starter.

6. Candied fruit

What is candied Buddha’s hand? It may be the most popular way this fruit is eaten.

  1. Cut one large fruit into small chunks or strips.
  2. In a medium pot, combine with ½ cup of sugar and 1 cup of water.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain excess liquid and lay pieces on parchment paper to dry.
  5. For best presentation, roll in powdered sugar prior to serving.

If you’re using sugar of any kind, you can’t kid yourself and say that candied Buddha’s hand is healthy. Though aeast it packs a fair amount of fiber. It’s certainly not any worse for you than most other varieties of dried fruit. Dried cranberries and cherries you buy at the store always have added sugar, unfortunately.

If you want to make a fingered citron candy that’s actually healthy, instead of using sugar in the recipe try monk fruit.

7. Air freshener

Who says you have to eat it on day one? Before embarking on the edible uses for Buddha’s hand, enjoy its natural perfume.

In China, a Buddha’s hand flower arrangement makes use of it for both aesthetics and scent. In your house, it could be something as simple as having a place in your fruit bowl.

Where to buy

It’s one of the hardest fruits to find for sale, at least in societies dominated by Western culture, such as the US and UK. In both of these countries, you may be able to find Buddha’s hand at a Chinese supermarket which carries exotic fruits.

In the US you really only encounter these markets in places like Southern California (e.g. 99 Ranch Market) and New York City (H Mart). There are others though, including in mid-sized cities that have a significant Chinese or Japanese population.

In London, try Loon Fung supermarket.

Whole Foods has been known to carry finger citron, though we have yet to see it at their Los Angeles locations.

Surprisingly when in-season, it’s sold at Ralph’s, which is the California arm of Kroger.

When is Buddha’s hand in season? Assuming it’s being grown in the northern hemisphere, the season will be October through January. Availability outside of those months will be limited to greenhouse growers and exports from the southern hemisphere, like Australia and New Zealand.

The cost to buy a Buddha’s hand fruit in the US, UK, and even China is quite expensive relative to common fruits and vegetables. At the Ralph’s in Manhattan Beach, CA the price is $10 per fruit, though most places sell by the pound. If by quantity, buy the biggest on the shelf!

Before you go driving around town on a wild goose chase to find them, we recommend calling the store ahead of time that you think might have it.

The PLU for Buddha’s hand is 4391. That’s for conventionally grown.

Frieda’s seems to be the biggest supplier in the US. With the exception of an independent grower at a local farmer’s market, no one is selling organic.

Dried Buddha hand should be available at TCM shops under the name Fo Shou (佛手).

How to grow

Since the fresh fruit is so hard to find for sale, perhaps you would prefer a tree in your backyard!

Growing requires zone 10 to 11, with the latter really being the more accurate representation. Even for zone 10 you are limited to Hawaii and the southernmost parts of California, Texas, and Florida.

That’s one of the reason you never see Buddha’s hand fruit seeds for sale at your local nursery. Another reason is that this strain of citron has been bred to produce virtually seedless fruit.

It’s a myth to say the seeds don’t exist at all, but they’re hard to obtain from the fresh fruit itself. This is why cuttings are better and ideally, a seedling is best.

Where to buy Buddha’s hand tree? Mail-order may be your only option.

One Green World sells a dwarf tree that begins bearing fruit 1-2 years after planting and its mature height is just 3-5 feet. They even market it for zone 9 growing. The bad news is they say “We can’t ship citrus to California, Arizona, and Florida” due to the laws.

Whether dwarf or regular, if you get your hands on one of these fingered citron strains, make sure you plant the tree or seed in full sunlight and water it regularly, as you would a lemon tree.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Young girl had a ‘fully grown’ dandelion inside her EAR and had to have it surgically removed by doctors in China

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  • LeBron James reveals ‘Mamba 4 Life’ tattoo in tribute to late teammate Kobe Bryant after the basketball legend’s tragic helicopter crash
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  • Laura Dern and Joaquin Phoenix look stylish as they lead the stars at the Academy Nominees Reception in London ahead of The Oscars 2020
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  • Bella Hadid cuts a casual figure as she shows her love for animals and playfully pets a dog while out with pals in NYC
  • Priyanka Chopra looks incredible as she flaunts her cleavage in a plunging patterned dress at Super Bowl event in Miami Wow
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  • Michelle Heaton COLLAPSES from ‘severe dehydration’ after suffering from ‘Bali belly’ following a swanky £150 sushi meal
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Weed-infested flower beds replaced with 300 plants, grown by hand with zero budget, by one champion volunteer

A year ago this month, Ventnor resident, Lesley Brown – aka the Ventnor Flower Fairy – approached Ventnor Winter Gardens to ask whether she could take on their three weed-infested and neglected raised beds.

Lesley set about transforming the flower beds and 12 months later they are a sight to behold. Bursting with flowers, colour and most importantly for Lesley, a feast for the town’s pollinators.

Zero budget but beds now boasting 300+ plants
With a little help to clear the three foot high weeds (with thanks to her partner Graham Middleton and Shamus) through her passion for bees, the community and her love of growing flowers, Lesley has gone on to volunteer her time to create what you see today.

She’s had zero budget but has managed to plant over 300 plants in these three beds. This was done by growing everything from cuttings, hand collected seeds and division of some plants in her own garden.

All grown at home
Lesley says,

“The vast majority are pollinators, drought resistant and perennial. Despite the hot, dry weather recently, I have only watered these beds three times this year so far.”

The plants were all grown at home in her own garden, then carried down to the Winter Gardens tray by tray on foot, as she doesn’t drive.

The bees, and anyone sitting outside the Winter Gardens can enjoy the wonderful mix of wild flowers and garden flowers.

Bees don’t care what colour goes with another
Lesley went on to add,

“The beds are still very young, most plants less than a year old. Over this next year they will fill out properly and self seed.

“There is no colour coordinated theme because bees don’t really care what colour goes with another. Neither do flowers for that matter.”

Lesley finished by saying,

“I’ve had enormous fun doing this and have enjoyed the challenge. I do hope you enjoy the results, as you walk past or sit outside having a drink.”

Inspiration for others
Lesley is hoping that what she’ done at the Winter Gardens demonstrates that planting community areas does not need to be expensive or need masses of watering, can hugely benefit the environment and whilst making the town look beautiful and attractive to visitors (which all our businesses thrive on).

Next project
Lesley has approached BT, whose building on the High Street/Victoria Street junction is in need of brightening up.

The building sits next to our much-loved Ventnor Giant, created as part of the Lift the Lid Project, and has a strip in front of the building that Lesley has asked if she can plant up.

She’s still waiting to hear back from BT, but hopefully when they see what she’s achieved at the Winter Gardens they’ll give permission (and perhaps even some cash towards it).

Outside the BT building Outside the BT building

We’ll let you know what they say.

Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree

Exotic, Flavorful Citrus That’s Easy-Growing

Why Buddha’s Hand Citron Trees?

It’s a distinctive tree with incredible-looking fruit, flavor-enhancing abilities and a wonderful fragrance that freshens the air indoors. A sturdy, upright citrus tree with deep green leaves, the Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree is an exotic favorite.

Long, fingerlike structures curl outward from each fruit, forming what looks like bright yellow hands throughout your tree. And although the Buddha’s Hand fruit contains no pulp or juice, there are still plenty of wonderful uses for it.

Unlike most citrus, the Buddha’s Hand is not bitter, which means the zest is perfect for shaving into salads, creating candied citrus peel or accompany baked goods for extra flavor. Perhaps the most popular use of this fruit is in creating the most delectable cocktails imaginable. In fact, you can even infuse vodka to create your own ‘Buddhacellos.’

Why Fast-Growing-Trees.com is Better

Aside from its flavor-enhancing qualities and unique look, the Buddha’s Hand fruit can be used indoors as an air freshener because of its fragrant aroma. So, it’s versatile and one-of-a-kind.

But the best part is its strong, healthy growth from day one. We’ve planted, grown and nurtured our Buddha’s Hand Citron Trees for easy, carefree results – that means that your Buddha’s Hand will arrive at your door with a healthier root system and more developed branching.

With all the possibilities this incredible citrus has to offer and the charm the tree will add to your garden, the Buddha’s Hand is exceptional. Get your own today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: For the Buddha’s Hand Citron, choose a location with well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight – about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day.

When you’re ready to plant your Citron, select a container that’s about twice the width of the shipped container and one with drainage holes. From there, fill your pot halfway with soil, place your tree, and then backfill the rest with soil, leaving about one or two inches at the top. Finally, water your plant to settle the roots.

2. Watering: Be sure to water your Citron Tree regularly for its first year once each week and more frequently during the hot season and periods of extended drought.

After the first year, the tree’s roots will become a bit more established and you can reduce watering to once every two weeks.

A good rule of thumb? Using your index finger. Stick it into the pot and feel around for moisture – if there is still some present in the soil, hold off on watering. If it feels like it is drying out on the top couple inches, water just enough until you see it escaping the drainage holes and stop.

3. Fertilizing: Container-grown Buddha’s Hand Citron Trees will require a well-balanced fertilizer formula specialized for growing citrus. This formula already contains all of the micronutrients that the tree will need. Feed the trees regularly, but be sure to follow the directions on the fertilizer’s packaging.

The typical time frame for container-grown citrus is to start in February and provide fertilizer once every 4 to 6 weeks until September.

4. Pruning: Remove suckers as they appear by pinching them off of the tree or using a sterilized pair of cutters to remove them. You can easily sterilize your tool(s) by wiping them with a household rubbing alcohol. Prune off any dead or damaged branches in the early spring after the threat of frosts has passed.

5. Pollination: You can pollinate your indoor Buddha’s Hand by hand using a small, dry, fine-tipped paintbrush. Swirl the brush around the center of each bloom and collect the pollen on the brush. Go to the next bloom and repeat the process until every bloom has been treated, and repeat the process daily. Don’t wash the paintbrush until after the blooms have been pollinated. The blooms will fall and the fruit will begin to form.

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Buddha’s Hand Tree: Learn About Buddha’s Hand Fruit

I love citrus and use lemons, limes and oranges in many of my recipes for their fresh, lively flavor and bright aroma. Of late, I’ve discovered a new citron, at least to me, whose aroma rivals all of its other citron relatives, the fruit of Buddha’s hand tree – also known as the fingered citron tree. What is Buddha’s hand fruit? Keep reading to find out all about Buddha’s hand fruit growing.

What is Buddha’s Hand Fruit?

Buddha’s hand fruit (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) is a citron fruit that looks like a ghoulish, lemony hand made up of between 5-20 “fingers” (carpels) dangling from a small distorted lemon. Think lemon colored calamari. Unlike other citron, there is little to no juicy pulp inside the leathery rind. But like other citrus, Buddha’s hand fruit is rife with essential oils responsible for its heavenly lavender-citrus scent.

The Buddha’s hand tree is small, shrubby and has an open habit. The leaves are oblong, slightly rumpled and serrate. Blossoms, as well as new leaves, are tinted with purple, as are the immature fruits. Mature fruit attains a size of between 6-12 inches long and mature in late fall to early winter. The tree is extremely frost sensitive and can only be grown where there is no chance of frost or in a greenhouse.

About Buddha’s Hand Fruit

Buddha’s hand fruit trees are thought to have originated in northeastern India and were then brought to China during the fourth century A.D. by Buddhist monks. The Chinese call the fruit “fo-shou” and it is a symbol of happiness and long life. It is often a sacrificial offering at temple altars. The fruit is commonly depicted on ancient Chinese jade and ivory carvings, lacquered wood panels and prints.

The Japanese also revere the Buddha’s hand and is a symbol of good fortune. The fruit is a popular gift at New Year’s and is called “bushkan.” The fruit is placed on top of special rice cakes or used in the home’s tokonoma, a decorative alcove.

In China, there are a dozen varieties or sub-varieties of Buddha’s hand, each slightly different in size, color and shape. Buddha’s hand citron and “fingered citron” are both referring to Buddha’s hand fruit. The Chinese word for the fruit is often mistranslated in scientific research translations to the English “bergamot,” which while another aromatic citrus, is not Buddha’s hand. Bergamot is a hybrid of sour orange and limetta, while Buddha’s hand is a cross between Yuma ponderosa lemon and citremon.

Unlike other citrus, Buddha’s hand is not bitter, thus makes it the perfect citron to candy. The zest is used to flavor savory dishes or teas, and the entire fruit to make marmalade. The heady aroma makes the fruit an ideal natural air freshener and is also used to perfume cosmetics. The fruit can also be used to infuse your favorite adult beverage; just add sliced Buddha’s fruit to alcohol, cover and let stand for a few weeks, then enjoy over ice or as part of your favorite mixed drink.

Buddha’s Hand Fruit Growing

Buddha’s hand trees are grown much like any other citrus. They will usually grow to between 6-10 feet and are often grown in containers as bonsai specimens. As mentioned, they do not tolerate frost and can only be grown in USDA hardiness zones 10-11 or in containers that can be moved indoors at the risk of frost.

Buddha’s hand makes a gorgeous ornamental plant with its white to lavender blossoms. The fruit is also lovely, initially purple but gradually changing to green and then a bright yellow at maturity.

Pests like the citrus bud mite, citrus rust mite and snow scale also enjoy the Buddha’s hand fruit and need to be watched for.

If you do not live in the appropriate USDA zones to grow Buddha’s fruit, the fruit can be found at many Asian grocers from November through January.

Buddha’s Hand citron

Fingered citron

Citrus medica L.

Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis (Hoola van Nooten) Swingle

CRC 3768

PI 539445

VI 369

Source: Budwood import from Hawaii, via CCPP, 1975. Exocortis removed by shoot tip grafting.

Parentage/origins: Parents unknown.

Rootstocks of accession: Yuma Ponderosa lemon and citremon.

Main season of ripeness at Riverside: November to January. Some yellow fruits appear year-round.

Description and use (OJB and DK): The tree is small and shrubby with an open habit. It is very frost-sensitive. Citron leaves are distinctive in form, being oblong and somewhat rumpled, with serrate margins. The flowers and new leaves are heavily tinged with purple. The very small immature fruits may also be flushed with purple, so that they appear almost brown. The 6- to 12-inch fruits split longitudinally at the end opposite the stem, as the carpels separate into segments that look somewhat like human fingers. The rind is yellow and highly fragrant at maturity, with a characteristic aroma of violets or osmanthus, largely derived from a compound called beta-ionone (Shiota, 1990). The interior of the fruit is solid albedo (the white part of the skin) with no juicy pulp or seeds.Buddha’s Hand citron fruits usually mature in late fall to early winter and hold moderately well on the tree, but not as well as other citron varieties.

In China the Buddha’s Hand citron symbolizes happiness and long life, because its name, “fo-shou”, has those meanings when written with other characters. Chinese like to carry the fruit in their hands, place it on tables in their homes, and present it as a sacrificial offering at temple altars. Though esteemed chiefly for its exquisite form and aroma, the Buddha’s Hand fruit is also eaten in desserts and savory dishes, and the sliced, dried peel of immature fruits is prescribed as a tonic in traditional medicine. The tree is very popular as an ornamental, often in bonsai form, in pots. The Buddha’s Hand was important by the 10th century A.D. in Fujian. Chinese artists classically depicted the fruit in jade and ivory carvings, in prints, and on lacquered wood panels (Simoons, 1991).

In Japan the “bushukan,” as the Buddha’s Hand citron is called, is a popular gift at New Year’s, for it is believed to bestow good fortune on a household. The Japanese buy the fruit at decorative ornament shops, and place it on top of specially pounded rice cakes, or use it in lieu of flowers in the home’s sacred tokonoma alcove (Elizabeth Andoh, pers. comm., 1997).

Taxonomy and nomenclature (DK): Although the Buddha’s Hand tree bears fruits that are different from other citrons in shape, it is otherwise a typical member of the species. It is usually considered as one variety in the United States, but in China there are actually at least a dozen named Buddha’s Hand varieties or subvarieties, differing in fruit shape, color and size, and the tree’s growing habit, etc. These varieties are classed in several types grown for specific purposes, such as fruit production or bonsai tree sales (Guo, 1993; Chen, 2002; Chen, 2003; Zhang, 2007).

In Yunnan a variety called “Muli” or “Xiangyanggo” has fruit characteristics intermediate between the common and the Buddha’s Hand citron (Wang, 1983; Gmitter, 1990). Along the same lines, Hodgson (see below) writes that in one clone “only part of the fruits are fingered and the rest are corrugated, lacking in flesh, and contain seeds hanging free in the locules.” There also exists a variegated form. Clearly the CVC accession (CRC 3768) is a standard Buddha’s Hand (no pulp, no seeds, no variegation), but its particular variety or subvariety has not yet been determined.

“Buddha’s Hand citron” and “Fingered citron” are alternative names for the same variety or group of varieties. In China, where numerous scientific studies of the Buddha’s Hand citron have been published, its Chinese name is often mistranslated into English as “bergamot,” which properly refers to C. bergamia (this true bergamot, another aromatic citrus, is a natural hybrid of sour orange and limetta ).

Cultivation of Buddha’s Hand citrons in China and California (DK): In China, the Buddha’s Hand citron “has long been cultivated in Weishang county, western Yunnan, at elevations up to 1500 m” (Gmitter, 1990). Currently the Chinese grow some 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of Buddha’s Hand citron, mostly in the Jinhua district of Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai (Xiuxin Deng, pers. comm., 2007).

A treatise on citrus from the late 19th century (Lelong, 1888) mentioned that the Buddha’s Hand citron had been introduced to California from Japan, but for about a century thereafter the tree was rarely grown in the state, and only as a curiosity in private gardens. In the early 1980s virtually no commercial plantings of Buddha’s Hand existed in California, but as of 2008 there were at least 10 hectares (25 acres) farmed by specialty citrus growers. The fruit is sold at Asian markets, upscale supermarkets and farmers markets, from California to the East Coast, mostly for its unusual looks and exquisite fragrance. It is also used for flavoring savory dishes, desserts and alcoholic beverages (such as vodka), and for making preserves.

Budwood of this accession is available through the Citrus Clonal Protection Program. Many nurseries sell Buddha’s Hand trees, which are quite popular in home gardens.

The trees are very cold-sensitive, and require an almost completely frost-free location. For commercial growers, packing and postharvest practices are tricky, because the fruits can’t be processed on a standard packing line, need to be cleaned and buffed by hand, and tend to develop mold quickly.

Description by Water T. Swingle and Phillip C. Reese in “The Botany of Citrus and Its Wild Relatives,” in The Citrus Industry, Volume 1, Chapter 3, p. 372:

Type.—Lacking in Linnean Herbarium.

Distribution.—Widely cultivated in China, Japan, Indo-China, and India.

Common name.—Fingered citron.

Like the species except in the fruit, which is split into a number of finger-like sections. Usually pulp is lacking, or if present is very scanty.

The fingered citron is well known and highly esteemed for its fragrance and beauty in China and Japan, where it is called “Buddha’s Hand Citron” (Fo Shou kan in Chinese, Bushu-kan in Japanese). It is used by Chinese and Japanese for perfuming rooms and clothing. It is also grown as a dwarf plant, of which good fruiting specimens are highly prized for ornamental purposes.

Description by R. W. Hodgson in “Horticultural Varieties of Citrus” in The Citrus Industry, Volume 1, Chapter 4, p. 556: A most unusual and interesting citron is the fingered or Buddha’s Hand citron (fig. 4-71) of the Orient (bushukan of Japan), where it has been prized for centuries, especially in Indo-China, China and Japan. As the name indicates, the fruit is apically split into a number of fingerlike sections, somewhat resembling a human hand. There appear to be two clones—one in which all the fruits are deeply fingered and lacking in flesh development and seeds, the other in which only part of the fruits are fingered and the rest are corrugated, lacking in flesh, and contain seeds hanging free in the locules. Both are typical acid citrons in all other respects and would seem to constitute clonal varieties rather than the botanical variety sarcodactylis as they are classified by Swingle (see chap. 3, p. 372).

Availability: Commercially available in California through the Citrus Clonal Protection Program. rder budwood.

USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network page for Buddha’s Hand citron.

Buddha’s Hand citron bibliography (DK):

Bonavia, E. 1888-90. The Cultivated Oranges and Lemons of India and Ceylon. London, W. H. Allen.

Du, Yue-Qiang. 2002. Standardizing production and industrialized development countermeasures of Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis. Journal of Zhejiang Forestry Science and Technology 22(2):68-70 (in Chinese).

Huang, XiaoYu, XiuYin Zhong, Yi Su. 1998. Extraction and identification of volatile oil in fingered citron. Journal of South China Agricultural University 19(3):101-106 (in Chinese).

Lelong, Byron Martin. 1888. A treatise on citrus culture in California. Supt. State Printing, Sacramento, California.

Lin, Zongxue. 2006. Reproductive characters and cultivation techniques of Citrus medica var. Sarcodactylis. Bulletin of Agricultural Science and Technology 3 (in Chinese).

Saunt, James. 2000. Citrus varieties of the world. 2nd ed. Sinclair International, Norwich, UK.

Simoons, Frederick J. 1991. Food in China: a cultural and historical inquiry. CRC, Boca Raton.

Tkatchenko, Boris. 1938. Le cédrat en Cochinchine. Bulletin économique de l’Indo-chine, 41-46:1389-1413.

Tolkowsky, Samuel. 1938. Hesperides: a history of the culture and use of citrus fruits. John Bale, Sons and Curnow, London.

Wang, H. K., Y. X. Ding, S. J. Yang. 1983. Muli citron – a variety of Citrus medica L. Acta Horticulturae Sinica 10(3):181-182 (in Chinese).

Wang, Qiong, Cai-Juan Chen, Xiao Shi, Li-Shan Xu, Xiao-Ling Jin. 2002. Comparative studies on volatile oils in fruits of four varities Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis. China Pharmaceutical magazine (in Chinese).

Wu HaiPo, ZhiJie Huang. 2001. Fingered citron, a valuable medicinal and ornamental citrus species. South China Fruits 30(1):21 (in Chinese).

Zhang, Gui-Fang, Hong-Hua Xu. 2007. Bergamot germplasm resources research overview. Journal of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (in Chinese).

Zhang, Xing-Wang. 2003. The use of fushou and its cultural techniques. South China Fruits 32(2):7-8 (in Chinese).

Zhou, Chun-Li, Wei-Dong Guo. 2005. Current studies on the plasm of Citrus medica L. var. sarcodactylis 3:89-110 (in Chinese).

Citron, of which the Buddha’s hand is a variety, is a citrus that produces very original fruits and blooms in a manner much appreciated by perfume makers.

Key Hand of Buddha facts

Name – Citrus medica
Family – Rutaceae (Rue family)
Type – fruit tree

Height – 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – well-drained

Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – January to December
Hardiness – at least 40°F (5°C)

Here are our tips: advice on planting, pruning and caring to grow nice citron trees.

Planting Buddha’s hand citron tree

The planting of the Buddha’s hand citron tree is very important, because it determines how well the tree will grow, bear flowers and ultimately produce citrons.

The Buddha’s hand citron tree requires well drained and rich soil for it to develop well.

Buddha’s hand citron tree planted directly in the ground

Before you start, you should know that Buddha’s hand does not resist freezing, and will start suffering when temperatures drop below 40°F (5°C).

Only try to plant the Buddha’s hand citron tree directly in the ground in areas where the winter climate is very mild, or in winter gardens.

  • Avoid planting Buddha’s hand citron tree in full summer, when temperatures are high.
  • Choose a sun-bathed area sheltered from heavy wind.
  • Place a drainage layer at the bottom of the hole with gravel or clay marbles.
  • Mix garden soil with citrus-specific planting soil mix, if you haven’t any, with regular planting soil mix.
  • Fill the hole in with this mix and press it down.
  • Water and press down again.
  • Water regularly during the first 2 years after planting without ever flooding the roots.

Buddha’s hand citron tree planted in pots

This is probably the best way to grow Buddha’s hand citron trees in our temperate latitudes, because our climate is too cool.

  • Just as for the potted lemon tree, Buddha’s hand citron will do very well in a pot.
  • You will need to bring it indoors from October to May in a lean-in or a greenhouse that isn’t heated.
  • Perform a repotting after having purchased your plant, and then, repeat this every 2 or 3 years.

Pruning Buddha’s hand citron

Since the size of the Buddha’s hand tree when adult is quite small, about 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters), normally you can avoid any measure of pruning.

However, you can prune a few times to increase growth, help the branches to grow more dense, and get more fruits.

When to prune Buddha’s hand citron

Pruning is best performed in spring, ideally during the months of March, April or May, after the citron harvest.

How to prune your Buddha’s hand tree

Pruning should be restricted to the bare minimum:

Using a properly disinfected hand pruner, cut each new shoot back to more or less half its length, taking great care to cut just above a leaf.

  • Remove suckers that are growing at the wrong place, such as along the trunk of where branches meet.
  • Cut away scraggly branches or inward-growing branches.
  • Remove dead wood regularly and clear the inside branches to let light penetrate to the center again.

Watering a Buddha’s hand tree

The Buddha’s hand citron tree normally doesn’t require any specific watering pattern, except in hotter countries and those countries that suffer from strong droughts in summer.

Never water too much, because the Buddha’s hand citron tree doesn’t cope well with flooded soil.

  • You know if your Buddha’s hand trees need water when their leaves start drooping or bending over.
  • It is best to water with collected rain water, because they are vulnerable to calcium ions in water, and tap water often has many.

Watering Buddha’s hand citron tree planted in pots

The Buddha’s hand citron tree planted in a pot doesn’t have the same water needs as a normal ground-grown tree, because the soil in the pot dries up much faster.

  • Water as soon as the soil is dry without flooding the pot.
  • Best to water with rain water.
  • In winter, water as little as possible (once a fortnight should cover its needs).

Caring for Citron ‘Buddha’s hand’

The ‘Buddha’s hand’ citron, in the end, is a very easy citrus to care for.

When planting was properly performed, and that watering is correctly balanced, this fruit tree should give you much enjoyment and satisfaction.

Just like all other potted plants, adding citrus-specific fertilizer will be needed regularly to compensate the natural loss of nutrients in the soil mix that you’ve provided for it.

Important: The Buddha’s hand citron tree is not an indoor plant and it can’t survive indoors in a heated room all year long, especially not in winter.

  • If you wish to try a citrus plant that copes well with growing indoors, read about calamondin trees.

Diseases that are commonly found on Buddha’s hand citron trees

Similar to lemon trees, the Buddha’s hand citron tree is vulnerable to the same diseases.

Fruit rot, aphids or mealybugs are some of the many diseases and parasites that Buddha’s hand trees can suffer from.

European brown rot – citrons rot while still on the citron tree.
Scale insects – whitish masses colonize leaves.
Aphids – leaves curl up and fall off.

Smart tip about Buddha’s hand citron

Pick the citrons as soon as they easily break off from the citron tree.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Close hand of Buddha on tree by Pixel2013 under license
Open Buddha’s hand by Pixel2013 under license
Ripe Hand of Buddha by Kkristie under license

*Dwarf Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree

*(image is for illustrative purposes only, actual tree may look different)

Buddha’s Hand Citron…also called Hand of Buddha, Fingered Citron, and even ”Bushukan” in Japanese. Even if you can’t decide what to call it, there is no argument as to it’s exotic nature. The Buddha’s Hand Citron is believed to have its origins in southwestern China and northeastern India. This odd, squid looking, citron is not necessarily in demand for its eating characteristics (although many skilled and creative cooks have figured out how to use this unusual citrus fruit) as much as it is prized for it’s fragrant attributes and religious symbolism. Both the Chinese and Japanese use the Buddha Hand’s intense floral and citrus aromas for creating harmonious and pleasing scents inside the home. Indoors or outdoors, this tree is sure to start many a conversation.
PLEASE READ PRIOR TO ORDERING: To allow for a shorter amount of time that your tree will be under the “stress of shipping”, these young trees are shipped directly from our supplier to you. As soon as your tree is shipped, you will receive a tracking number in order to track your tree.
Also…when prepared for shipping, the soil is removed from the tree’s roots and they are carefully packed with moist wood shavings in a plastic bag. So, bare-rooted citrus trees should be planted in a 12-14” container, or in the ground and watered upon arrival.
And finally…due to USDA restrictions, citrus trees cannot be shipped to: Arizona, Texas and Florida.

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