Is it safe to consume decorative kumquats?

March 4, 2024 | 08:53 pm PT
I own a decorative kumquat tree that is currently laden with large, ripe fruit. Is it possible for me to cook or consume these fruits? (Thu, 22, Hanoi)


Kumquats are aromatic, nutritious, and offer numerous health benefits. According to oriental medicine, kumquats possess a sweet and slightly spicy flavor with warm attributes, aiding in the dissolution of phlegm and the alleviation of coughs. Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, kumquats bolster the immune system, aid in alcohol metabolism, and provide relief from colds and fevers.

This fruit is consumable by all. Consuming kumquats with rock sugar is beneficial for treating coughs, while marinating them in sugar can help in stimulating the appetite.

Kumquats on the tree. Illustration photo by Freepik

Kumquats on the tree. Illustration photo by Freepik

A kumquat tree laden with fruit is traditionally seen in Vietnamese culture as a symbol of health, peace, longevity, and fortune, promoting harmony. An ornamental kumquat tree is believed to attract prosperity and facilitate smooth endeavors.

However, because of that, it’s common for some growers to apply pesticides or inject chemicals into these trees and use chemical fertilizers to enhance the fruit’s appearance and size, extend the tree’s freshness, or accelerate fruiting. Consuming kumquats from such practices can be harmful to health and may even result in poisoning. Washing or soaking the fruits does not guarantee safety from these chemicals.

For decorative kumquat trees grown at home, with known origins and free from chemical treatments or pesticides, consumption is deemed safe. Nonetheless, these home-grown fruits usually lack the aesthetic appeal found in commercially sold kumquats, being smaller, less spherical, and their skin having a duller color.

Dr. Nguyen Duy Thinh

Institution of Science and Technology, Hanoi University of Science and Technology

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