(Citrus grandis or Citrus maxima) is the largest of the Citrus genus and considered one of the three true Citrus types. It has been called by several names including ‘shaddock’ or ‘pompelmus and is often spelled pomelo. The fruit is very popular in China, Southeast Asia and Malaysia and unusually eaten as a dessert while certain varieties are used for room fragrance. The peel is very popular to be used in marmalades, jams and dipped in chocolate.
Origin and History of the Pummelo
In a 1986 article written by two well-known Botanists, RW Scora and DH Nicholson, they discuss the history of the fruit, “ [It] most probably originated in Thailand, spread early and was mentioned in Yu Kung (Tribute of Yu) in 2201 B.C. It seems to have been introduced into Europe in the wake of the Arabian conquest and was grown in Spain in the first half of the 12th century ...seedlings produced fruits of differing quality and its cultivation was abandoned. It was again introduced into Europe from the Dutch East Indies and, in 1646… several cultivars of the pummelo or "Adam's Apple,"… must have been in Italy at that time. The pummelo was also introduced to the West Indies from the East Indies… [also] its occurrence [is noted] in Jamaica”.
In the 1917 “Standard Cylopedia of Horticulture” LH Bailey writes, “Pomelos have been grown for many years in California but, although they succeed admirably, they have not been produced in a commercial way…the product is only a small fraction of that of the orange and the lemon.” Almost one hundred years later, not much has changed for the production and consumption of Pummelos in the USA and the fruit can be found mostly in farmers market in citrus growing areas. However, the demand for the fruit continues to gain popularity in other areas of the world especially Malaysia. The Tahitian pummelo is grown in Hawaii; and the Mato Buntan pummelo has been planted to a limited extent in Kagoshima Prefecture Japan.
Importance of the Fruit
The true importance of the Pummelo rests in the now accepted fact it is considered one of three genus of Citrus. The importance of understanding how Citrus varieties evolved in the past, is critical for the researchers to assist the citrus growers now and into the future. The UC Riverside Citrus Variety Collection has over 60 types of Pummelos growing at the Research center. Included are several Chinese varieties that were received by the center in the early 1900’s. The Pummelo, when crossed with other types of citrus varieties produce very interesting pieces of fruit.
Mix and Match?
What do you t get if a certain type of Pummelo is crossed with certain types of Mandarins? - the most popular citrus in the world - the orange!
What do you t get if a certain type of Pummelo is crossed with a certain type of a sour orange? - the grapefruit!