The Blood Oranges
“The blood oranges, in general, are characterized by a somewhat distinctive flavor that is much appreciated by connoisseurs and causes certain varieties to be regarded as among the most delicious of oranges. The coloration of the blood oranges is associated with the development of anthocyanin pigments.”
Anthocyanins are a natural chemical compound found in many plants and produce pigmentation typically of red, purple and blue in fruit and flowers. It is this property that makes the pigmented or “blood oranges” produce red flesh and red color in the peel. Although anthocyanins are common in most plant species, they are lacking in the Pummelo and the Mandarin. The orange, now established as a hybrid of the Pummelo and the Mandarin, also lacks this natural color property for the most part and the ‘bloods’ are a result of a mutation that was able to propagate in certain regions of the world. A study led by Eugenio Butelli on the subject and printed in The Plant Cell, (Vol. 24: 1242–1255, March 2012) reports, “Our results indicate that all commercial blood orange varieties have a common origin. Anthocyanin pigmentation of fruit must have originated once either in a Mediterranean sweet orange or in a Chinese sweet orange, which has since been lost. Citrus breeders have derived all the diversity in modern blood orange varieties from this original event.”
The UC Riverside collection contains the following types of Blood Oranges:
Boukhobza blood orange
Bream Tarocco blood orange
Source: Received as budwood from Robert Bream of Lindsay, Ca, 1994.
Parentage/origins: Apparently a bud mutation from a mature Tarocco blood orange tree of the VI 384 budline originally purchased from Willets and Newcomb Nursery.
Notes and observations- JB: In October of 1994 Dave Gumpf and I were at Lindcove for work and a meeting. After the meeting Bob Bream approached Dave and mentioned that he had a Tarocco blood orange tree at his home that produced large well colored fruit and which might be an improvement over our old VI 384 budline of Tarocco. After we finished our work at the station we stopped by the Bream home and met with Bob Bream there. Mr. Bream offered to give us cuttings from his tree to enter into the program to compare the fruit quality with the existing CCPP Tarocco, and if it was an improvement, to make it available to growers through CCPP. OJB: Bream Tarocco is a medium-large to large blood orange variety with few to no seeds. Tarocco blood orange if one of the major blood orange varieties of the world. The distinctive color is a natural mutation and is due to the presence of anthocyanin, the same plant compound that is responsible for the color of pomegranates. The distinctive color requires a chilly winter to develop properly.
Burris blood Valencia orange
Delfino blood orange
Doblafina blood orange (CRC 3152)
Doblafina blood orange (CRC 4000)
Entrefina blood orange
Grosse Ronde blood orange
Malta blood orange
Source: Received as budwood from Patterson Ranch, Redlands, Calif.
Parentage/origins: Parents unknown.
Notes and observations: Portugaise is the name employed in Algeria where this variety is commercially most important, but in Tunisia it is the old and highly reputed Maltaise Sanguine variety…In Tunisian usage, Portugaise is considered to be somewhat more upright in growth habit and with fruit of a slightly more pronounced oval form. There is a close resemblance between Maltaise Sanguine and the Sanguinella Moscata variety of Italy. There is general agreement as to the excellent eating quality and fragrance of this variety. However, it is highly variable and uncertain with respect to blood coloration development. Frequently external red pigmentation is not accompanied by internal coloration and in some growing areas both are lacking. The origin of this undoubtedly very old variety is unknown, but possibly it may have been the island of Malta. The Maltese Blood variety introduced into Florida from the Mediterranean many years ago seems likely to be a clone of this variety as does the Bloodred Malta of West Pakistan and Punjab, India. The Egyptian variety Beladi Blood, which is said to have been imported from Malta about 1830, almost certainly is Maltaise Sanguine.
Moro blood orange (CRC 3811)
Moro blood orange (CRC 3830)
Source: Received as budwood from USDCS, Indio, CA, via CCPP, 1975.
Parentage/origins: Parents unknown.
Description: “Moro blood orange is the most common of the pigmented oranges marketed in the United States. It is of relatively recent origin and is believed to be of Sicilian ancestry…Orange-colored at maturity with light pink blush or red streaks at advanced maturity. Flesh deeply pigmented (almost violet-red); juicy; flavor pleasant. Very early in maturity (earliest of the commercial blood oranges), but holds well on the tree and stores and ships well. A distinctive aroma develops with advanced maturity, but flavor deteriorates if held too long in storage and becomes objectionable to some. Moro is distinctive in that pigmentation develops early and strongly in the flesh, ranging from medium to intense, whereas rind pigmentation may be lacking or at best only moderately developed. This variety undoubtedly belongs to the deep blood group. Of comparatively recent Sicilian origin and thought to have developed from the Sanguinello Moscato variety, Moro did not attain the popularity of Tarocco for several decades. More recently, it has been planted to a considerable extent in Sicily, where it now enjoys equal favor.”
Rio Farms Vaniglia acidless sweet orange
Ruby blood orange
Sanguinelli blood orange
Sanguinello a Pignu blood orange
Smith Red blood orange
Tarocco #7 blood orange
Source: Received as budwood from a seedling from CRC #2796, produced at CRC, 1967.
Parentage/origins: Tarocco blood orange was introduced from an unknown Mediterranean country to Florida about 1880 and brought to California soon after.
Notes and observations- OJB: Tarocco #7 is a medium-large to large blood orange variety with few to no seeds. Tarocco blood orange if one of the major blood orange varieties of the world. The distinctive color is a natural mutation and is due to the presence of anthocyanin, the same plant compound that is responsible for the color of pomegranates. The distinctive color requires a chilly winter to develop properly. Tarocco #7 is one of the most delicious blood orange varieties in the Citrus Variety Collection, although the rind of this blood orange gets very little to no coloration at all. The tree is vigorous, but only moderately productive. Tarocco’s season is similar to the Moro, maturing in January here in Riverside.
Thermal Tarocco blood orange
Vaccaro blood orange (CRC 3242)
Vaccaro blood orange (CRC 3627)
Vaniglia Sanguigno acidless sweet orange
Washington Sanguine blood orange