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Valentine pummelo: A tasty new citrus

Valentine pummelo

(Citrus maxima hybrid) 

 

Valentine pummelo overview:

This is a relatively new and delicious fruit that ripens during the coldest part of the year.

 

Valentine pummelo

Valentine pummelo cut in half to show its heart shape

Fruit appearance:

  • Yellow skin and red pulp.
  • The size of a grapefruit (about 8 inches in diameter).
  • The shape is a cross between a sphere and a teardrop.
  • The fruit in the pictures is a from a 4ft high tree I planted earlier this year.  This is a really big fruit for such a small tree.

 

Valentine pummelo

The Valentine pummelo is a handful

Fruit taste:

  • Extremely sweet and delicious fruit. Somewhat floral.
  • Unlike a typical grapefruit, the valentine has low acidity but is slightly tart. The fruit is moderately seedy.
  • I don’t know this guy in the video (see link), but I am adding it because it demonstrates the enjoyment of eating this fruit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6olhouYp5w

 

Main fruit season:

Oddly enough, the main fruiting season is sometime around Valentines day.  January to March.

 

Landscaping use:

  • Plant anywhere you would put other citrus. Long range focal point.
  • Use the evergreen foliage to hide/screen undesirable areas.
  • Prune in winter.
  • (It is a relatively new citrus release from the University of California Riverside, and is now available in a few specialty nurseries.  I was lucky enough to have a generous neighbor pick it up for me on one of her plant expeditions).

 

Soil:

  • A lot of sources say that you just put a citrus in the ground and it will be fine. But I live in Southern California where the native soil is terrible.  Therefore, I dig a hole at least 2x the size of the pot it came in and aggressively augment the soil.  I have planted a lot of citrus in the last few years; when you don’t provide a lot of rich soil the trees get really upset.
  • Besides, the extra organic material will not only feed your citrus, it will also cut down on your water bill in the long run.
  • I also inoculate the roots with micorriza.
  • Click here to see my 6/9/13 post on the best planting technique to avoid transplantation shock. 

 

Water:

Deep watering 1-to-2x/week in the summer. Infrequent deep heavy watering is much better than frequent light watering.   You can cut way back on the watering in the winter after tree is established.  Mulching always helps with moisture retention. Most citrus don’t like standing water.

 

Sun:

Full

 

Fertilization:

Give a balanced fertilizer in the growing season 4x/y.  Citrus also need micronutrients which I give at the beginning of growing the season. Throwing in a random assortment of organic fertilizer whenever you have it is always appreciated (compost, worm castings etc).

 

Temp:

  • Typical citrus temps; citrus don’t like frost. Mediterranean climate seems ideal.
  • For more information about the lowest temperatures that you can expect in your area, check out my article “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?”

 

Pests:

  • No major pests on this tree so far.  However, it is still new.
  • That being said, some kind-of rodent girdled one of my other citrus trees by eating the bark at the base of the trunk. I think it was a squirrel or rabbit but I don’t have direct proof. I now put a wire cage around the bottom of all my citrus and I have not had any problems since.
  • Citrus leafminer is a big problem for all citrus in Southern California; but there are ways to effectively deal with them.For more information, please see my 6/20/13 post for diagnosis and treatment of the Citrus Leafminer. 
  • Citrus greening, (aka: Huanglongbing or yellow dragon disease) is destroying the Florida citrus industry.   This serious disease is a major concern in California, but quarantine efforts seem to be working so far.  You can read more about this disease via the links below.

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/citrus_greening/index.shtml

This link now seems to be broken but when it was working had additional info: http://www.saveourcitrus.org/index.php/citrus-greening

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/04/the-green-death.html

http://www.crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/greening/index.shtml
Food use:

Eat out of hand (see video link above).  Add to salad or just about anything fresh.   Easy to peel rind.

 

Valentine pummelo cut

Easy to peal rind of the Valentine pummelo

Misc:

  • The red color of the flesh/juice is due to the presence of anthocyanins (antioxidant) which is a family of pigments.
  • This wonderful fruit is a cross of a ‘Siamese Sweet’ pummelo x (‘Dancy’ mandarin x ‘Ruby’ blood orange) and was developed at University of California Riverside.
  • A research associate for the UCR Citrus Variety Collection (Ottillia ‘Toots’ Bier), nicknamed it “valentine” because it ripens around Valentine’s Day and when cut length-wise, the fruit resemble a red heart.

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.

18 comments

  1. Hi,
    Do you know where I can purchase one? I am in Orange County, California.
    Thanks,
    Catherine

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Good question Catherine.

      My neighbor got me the Valentine Pummelo tree for me.
      However, she said that she bought it at Durling’s Nursery.

      I haven’t been to that nursery myself, but google says that it is located at:
      40401 De Luz Rd Fallbrook, CA 92028‎ (760) 728-9572 (See link below).
      https://plus.google.com/111631277725863085531/about?gl=us&hl=en

      I guess it is worth a call to see if they have any in stock, or could ship a plant.
      Good luck.
      Tom

      • Thanks Tom.

        Have you tried New Zealand lemonade? I ran into an article about it and just wonder if anyone plants it.
        New Zealand Lemonade
        Originally from New Zealand, this cultivar has been popular there since the 1980’s and just recently promoted locally. This is thought to be a hybrid between an orange and the Meyer lemon (itself a hybrid between lemon and mandarin). When ripe the fruit is pale green and is juicy and sweet with a lemon flavor. It is fairly easy to peel and has few seeds. It is usually eaten fresh or juiced. In New Zealand the crop ripens in early spring with a second crop in summer.

        Catherine

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Catherine
          Thanks for the info.
          I have not tried the New Zealand Lemonade fruit, but it sounds wonderful.
          Please let us know if you have any luck finding it around So Cal.
          Thanks,
          Tom

      • Hi Mr. Osborne,
        I am an fruit plant hobiist from East Java – Indonesia. I have been try to get this pummelo for a year but none of nursery have it for shipping to my country. is there any change that we can trade the budwood/scion. i think it would be easily send. or i will pay for those budwood and shipping cost if you dont intrested for any indonesian fruitplant.

        Regards,
        Ahut

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Ahut
          Thank you very much for the offer.
          However, I don’t know enough about the agricultural laws and restrictions around importing plant material into Indonesia.
          Perhaps another reader can help you.
          Best,
          Tom

  2. Tom,

    Thanks for your article of the Valentine pummelo. Just had a taste of it at Gene Lester’s place this Saturday during our Monterey Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers meeting and tour. It is very tasty. Did not see this plant offer in the San Francisco Bay area. Will try to grow from seeds.

    Thanks.

    Irene

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      No problem Irene
      Thank you for the positive feedback!

      • I’m sorry, but no pomelo set true to type – that means the seed will never be identical to the parent.

        • It’s not a pomelo. It’s a hybrid and should grow true to type from seed.

          Polyembryonic

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Thanks Andrew.

            I totally agree, its definitely a hybrid.
            (I gave the specifics on the parentage at the end of the article in the “Misc” section).

            Since the term Polyembryonic might be new to some… I thought it might be nice to add some additional info.

            Polyembryonic:
            When you are talking about plant seeds, polyembryonic means that there is more than one embryo inside the seed.
            At least one of these embryos will be identical to the mother tree. Wikipedia gives a nice short but somewhat technical outline of this nucellar embryony.

            For some seeds (like mango’s) you will actually see multiple plants sprouting up from a single seed. There is some controversy as to how you actually determine which one of those mango sprouts is the one identical to the mother plant and which one will be the non identical ones.

            Sometimes, the dominant sprout will kill off the other embryos in the seed via a process called apoptosis (aka; programmed cell death). This type of thing sometimes happens with polyembryonic citrus seeds… but not always. Sometimes one citrus seed can also result in multiple seedlings. I dont personally know how you would figure which seedlings coming up from one seed would be the ones identical to the parent when you get multiple sprouts.

            So how do you tell if a citrus seed is polyembryonic? Well, there is a long list of which citrus varieties are and are not polyembryonic. But from what I have read, another way is to peel off the outer and inner seed coat. It the seed is polyembryonic, you can see all of the various embryos convoluted upon each other. I got that seed appearance info from this article CITRUS PROPAGATION AND ROOTSTOCKS BY DR. MARTIN L. PRICE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.

  3. I often think the best alternative to citrus is mango, since they are more drought tolerant, have more varieties ranging from coconut, lemon and fruit punch flavor and have no diseases in drier areas than FL. Valentine is still my favorite citrus due to its large fruit and nice color.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Ok, thanks Nate.
      This is just what I have heard and read… but I have not tried to grow from seed myself yet.

      • How do you prevent flowers/fruit from dropping? I know it’s normal, but none of them survived.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Nate.
          Good question.
          As you mentioned, not all flowers will survive to produce fruit… If they did it would likely overwhelm the tree with fruit.
          My secret is pretty simple. I just try to give the plants everything they need to be happy.. Which is basically the care instructions outlined in the article.

          Best,
          Tom

  4. Hi, Tom! Nice post. I just want to mention that pommelos have a lot of thick peel. Instead of discarding or composting it, it can be used in making marmalade or candied peel for fruitcake. The thin top layer of the peels is somewhat bitter but the thick white part is mild. Warning, the marmalade is really addictive!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      That sounds wonderful Betty
      If you would like to share your recipes, I will post in the article and credit your name.
      Thanks,
      Tom

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