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 Citrus maxima subsp. var.  Pummelo
Citrus grandis - Honey White.jpg
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Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: sun
Water: moderate
Features: edible, fruit
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Rutaceae > Citrus maxima var. , Merr.

The pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis) is a citrus fruit native to South East Asia. It is usually pale green to yellow when ripe, with sweet white (or, more rarely, pink or red) flesh and very thick pudgy rind. It is the largest citrus fruit, 15–25 cm in diameter,[1] and usually weighing 1–2 kg. Other spellings for pomelo include pummelo, and pommelo, and other names include Chinese grapefruit, jabong, lusho fruit, pompelmous,[2] Papanas, and shaddock.[3]

The pomelo tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit, though the typical pomelo is much larger in size than the grapefruit. It has very little, or none, of the common grapefruit's bitterness, but the enveloping membranous material around the segments is bitter, considered inedible, and thus usually discarded.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Pummelo (possibly contraction of Dutch pompelmoes). A generic term including most of the varieties of Citrus grandis.

The pummelo long grown in the West Indies and the United States comprise a group of very juicy- subglo- bose (not pear-shaped) thin-skinned varieties differing widely from the common pummelos of the East Indies which are usually more or less pear-shaped, thick- skinned, and have a firm pulp. These latter are called shaddocks in the West Indies and United States. These two extremes are well separated in the character of the fruit and also show differences in the leaves and twigs, the pummelos having more or less hairy twigs, leaves downy on the under surface and very broadly winged petioles, while the grapefruits have nearly smooth, slender twigs, leaves smooth on the under surface, and narrower petioles.

In the Orient, however, there are a multitude of forms of pummelos. among which occur all the intermediates between me two extreme types noted above. Under these circumstances it seems advisable to retain the word pummelo in its usual East Indian sense, i. e., to include all varieties of Citrus grandis with the exception of the grapefruit group which is sufficiently distinct to merit a separate name. The attempt was made some years ago to apply the name pomelo to the grapefruit in this country but this name never attained any currency among growers, shippers, dealers, and consumers and was largely restricted to books and bulletins on descriptive horticulture. Pomelo is really a variant of pummelo, also written pummelow, pum- meloe, pummalo, pumelo, pomello, and so on. In view of this confusing perplexity of similar names, it seems inadvisable to attempt to distinguish by the name pomelo the grapefruit of America from the pummelo of the East Indies.

As a result of a trip to Japan, China, and the Philippine Islands made by the writer in 1915, it was found that some varieties of pummelos were very resistant to citrus canker (caused by Pseudomonas citri), unlike the grapefruit which is very susceptible to this disease. Unless citrus canker can be wholly eradicated from the southeastern United States it will be necessary to hybridize the grapefruit with the most canker-resistant sorts of citrous fruits in the hope of securing new varieties combining the juiciness and high flavor of the grapefruit with the canker-resistance of the other parent. In this work the canker-resistant varieties of the pummelo, some of them of excellent quality, promise to be of capital importance.

In view of this unforeseen importance of the pummelo, the following sketch of the more promising known varieties is given:

Malayan varieties.—Banda navel, from Plo-ay, Banda Islands, Malaysia. Fruits very large, nearly round but bumpy, growing in clusters of five or six; peel an inch thick; pulp white, juicier and sweeter than the common pummelo, nearly or quite seedless; the fruits sometimes show an included navel, a smaller fruit the size of a peeled orange being formed near the top of the larger fruit. Navel fruits are very rare in seedlings grown in Amboyna from seed brought from Banda. This very interesting variety described by Rumphius about 200 years ago does not seem to have been noticed since.—Cassomba. Rumphius describes this as a depressed globose variety as large as a man's head, commonly grown on the island of Amboyna. It has red vinous pulp as sweet as currants when ripe, often seedless.—Labuan, or Bali (?). A seedless pummelo of very superior quality is said to have been introduced by Sir Hugh Low from the island of Bali to Labuan Island off the coast of Borneo, from whence it was sent some fifteen years ago to the West Indies. The tree is said be thornless.

Indian varieties.—Bombay Red. Fruit subglobose, 7 inches diameter; skin 1/4-1/2 inch thick; pulp very juicy, deep red (color of raw beef), pleasantly subacid, with a characteristic flavor. This is said by E. E. Bonavia to be "by far the finest variety of pummelo" he had seen. He describes a number of other sorts varying in shape, size, color, and juiciness. The leaves and twigs of some varieties are smooth; of others downy or hairy. In 1904 a collection of thirteen sorts of Indian pummelos was received by the Department of Agriculture from the Botanic Garden at Calcutta. A number of these have fruited both in California and Florida. One of these Indian pummelos (shown in Fig. 3256) was grown at Eustis, Florida, in 1915, and has pink flesh.

Siamese varieties.—The Siamese seedless pummelos, grown in the Nakon chaisri district, have long been famous and have recently been studied there by H. H. Boyle (Phil. Ag. Rev. 7:65-9, pls. 3, 4, Feb., 1914. Journ. Heredity, 5:440-7, pls. 1-3, Oct., 1914). Oval Nakon chaisri. The best variety is slightly oval, 4 1/2 inches diameter, 4 inches high: skin pale yellow; flesh white, juicy, aromatic, not bitter; seeds few or none. Boyle considers this variety superior to any other pummelo and to any grapefruit and says it is a good fruit for market purposes.—Flat Nakon chaisri. A very flat fruit, 4 7/8 inches diameter, 3 1/4 inches high; skin bright yellow; flesh white, juicy, aromatic; seeds few or none. Boyle considers this an excellent fruit for market purposes. Two other seedless varieties, but of somewhat inferior quality, were found by Boyle.

Japanese varieties.—In Japan many varieties of pummelos, there called Buntan, Uchimurasaki or Jabon are known, variously estimated from 75 to 200. The following are among some of the more promising studied by T.Tanaka in the course of a survey of the citrous fruits of Japan: Hirado. Large, depressed globose, about 4-5 inches in diameter and 3-4 inches high, with grapefruit-like smooth skin of lemon-yellow color; pulp juicy, rind thin, segments regular, core rather small, very good flavor; seeds small but numerous. This variety originated at Hirado near Nagasaki, Japan, some seventyfive years ago as a seedling of a pummelo brought from Java. The writer saw bearing trees of this variety at the Nagasaki agricultural experiment station in 1915 and found the fruits to be juicy and of excellent quality and noted that the tree remained almost entirely exempt from citrus canker (caused by Pseudomonas cilri) which was attacking seriously Washington navel orange trees grown only a few yards distant. On account of its superior quality and high degree of canker-resistance, hybrids were made in June, 1915, between it and American grapefuit by means of pollen shipped from Florida to Nagasaki in vacuum tubes (Science N.S. 42:375-377. Sept., 1915). It is hoped to secure in this way canker-resistant hybrids equal to the grapefruit in quality. Seedlings of the Hirado pummelo are now being grown by the Department of Agriculture.—Ogami, vicinity of Kagoshima; rare; very large, very flat; rind smooth; thin, pinkish; core large, segments numerous, some-times twenty-five, pulp pinkish, fine-grained, juicy, very good quality; seeds numerous.—Hata-jirushi, experiment farm of Count Tachibana, Yanagawa, Fukuoka-ken. A very large flat pummelo like the Ogami, very much like the latter in general characters but rind much thicker and pulp vesicles coarser, good-flavored; seeds numerous.—Yoko-jirushi, experiment farm of Count Tachibana, Yanagawa, Fukuoka-ken. A large round variety with rough skin; oil-glands remarkably large and prominent, not much rag, segments regular, pulp slightly pinkish, good quality, vesicles long and parallel; seeds numerous.—Take-jirushi, experiment farm of Count Tachibana. Long-oval in shape, with salmon-colored flesh, segments large and rather irregular, very sweet and of good quality; seeds few.—Tamura. Shinkai-mura, Kochi-ken; a round, smooth-skinned variety, with pale pink flesh, segments irregular, large, pulp coarsegrained and good quality; seeds very few.

Formosan varieties.—Mato. Matao, Ensuiko-cho, Formosa. Common; fruit small, conical; rough-skinned, rind very thin; core small, pulp similar to the Ogami, very high quality; practically seedless; very early ripening. Besides the Mato pummelo, red (To yu) and white (Pei yu) pummelos of fairly good quality are commonly grown in Formosa.

Chinese varieties. Canton varieties.—There are at least half a dozen varieties grown about Canton. The Sung-ma is one of the best for export. The sorts commonly exported are pear-shaped, with a very fragrant thick peel and a very firm greenish yellow pulp of aromatic flavor. These pummelos are exported to all parts of the world where Cantonese Chinese live.—Amoy, a very large slightly pear-shaped pomelo with a thick skin and very firm white flesh, is produced near Amoy. In spite of its reputation it is of mediocre quality.

California seedlings.—There are many pummelo trees in northern California grown from seeds planted years ago by the Cantonese Chinese immigrants. Until a few years ago Canton pummelos were regularly imported by Chinese merchants in San Francisco. G. P. Rixford has located two score or more seedling trees in California which show considerable variation in the size, color, shape, and quality of the fruit. Some are of fairly good quality. These seedlings are mostly old bearing trees and furnish excellent opportunity for crossing with grapefruit in the hope of securing canker-resistant hybrids.

Florida shaddocks.—In Florida, pummelos have been grown for a long time under the West Indian name shaddock. The grapefruit is so much better, however, that shaddocks have almost disappeared. H. H. Hume lists only two varieties, the Mammoth, oblate, 5-6 inches diameter, flesh firm, white, sweetish, bitter; and the Pink, oblate-pyriform, 6x6 5/8 inches, flesh rough, pink, bitterish, subacid. Other forms are occasionally found but almost all are of very poor quality.

Hybrids.—Natural hybrids of the pummelo are common in Japan. They are mostly between the pummelo and the Mandarin types of oranges. Some are of great promise, however, being large, juicy, and very good-flavored. The common Natsu mikan, a very flat fruit 4-5 inches diameter, 2 1/2-3 inches high, ripening very late in the season, is probably one of these hybrids. This group of hybrids is very similar to the tangelo, obtained by crossing the grapefruit with oranges of the Mandarin type. In India there seem to be natural hybrids between pummelos and lemons or citrons; possibly the group of citrous fruits called Amilbed by Bonavia is of this nature. After discovering that some varieties of pummelos are very resistant to citrus canker, the author inaugurated in 1915 in Japan a series of experiments in hybridizing the Florida grapefruit with different varieties of Japanese pummelos in the hope of securing canker-resistent grapefruit-like hybrids, as was noted above under Hirado pummelo.

Sour pummelos.—In India and other eastern countries very large acid-fleshed pummelos occur which are said to yield up to a quart of juice. One such sour pummelo grown near Eustis, Florida, has been used in breeding new types of acid fruits by hybridizing.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


The Chandler is a Californian variety of pomelo, with a smoother skin than many other varieties. An individual Chandler fruit can reach the weight of one kilogram.

The tangelo is a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine. It has a thicker skin than a tangerine and is less sweet. It has been suggested that the orange is also a hybrid of the two fruits.


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