(Citrus maxima ‘Tahitian’)
Tahitian pummelo tree overview:
The Tahitian pummelo tree produces humongous sized delicious fruit.
Tahitian pummelo fruit appearance:
- This is one huge citrus fruit.
- The scientific name gives its size away (Citrus maxima). Pomelo’s (as a group) are the largest of all citrus, in this case the Tahitian pummelo’s that I have grown are about 2-3x larger than a grapefruit.
- The fruit skin of the Tahitian pummelo is deep-green when it is young and as it ripens the skin turns yellow.
- The fruit peels rather easily and the individual segments are easily skinned. After you get past all of the fibrous segmentation you will find the surprisingly pale-green and juicy flesh.
- There are many seeds, but they are all clustered at the apex of the large segmentations. In this exposed location, the seeds are easily removed.
Tahitian pummelo taste:
- Oh my; the Tahitian pummelo is truly a delicious fruit.
- Some have called it luscious, and I can’t argue with that.
- The Tahitian pummelo is perfectly sweet with flavors that are distinctively citrus with a tasty mild melon flavor to it as well. If you concentrate, you will find tiny hint of that signature grapefruit flavor, but it is rather subtle.
- Overall the Tahitian pummelo almost tastes like a sugar sweetened grapefruit, only much better and lighter.
- It is really hard to stop eating it.
Tahitian pummelo fruit season:
- I haven’t been able to find much information about when to pick the fruit, so I just waited…
- I didn’t want to pick this prize too early so I was patient… The fruit got bigger, all of the green faded to yellow and I waited some more… and then I kind-of forgot about it for a while.
- Then one day I noticed that one of the fruits just fell off the tree on its own. As it turns out this fruit that I picked up and then devoured was delicious. So I concluded that the tree would let me know when it was ready by letting go of the fruit.
- This year, about 5 large fruits fell off my young tree from April to June.
- However, I have read that in Florida, the fruits ripen from November to February. This dramatic difference in season seems odd to me as I would expect the Florida and California seasons to be closer aligned. Perhaps I will have another fruiting season this Winter-Fall to match Florida.
- This second crop may not be too far out of the realm of possibilities as the trees may flower up to 4x a year in tropical Asia and produce 4 crops a year there.
- The tree has some distinctive character with with a crooked/bent trunk and branches.
- The leaves are quite a bit larger than most other citrus trees.
- The flowers are large to match the size of the fruit. The flowers are also highly aromatic, so much so that in North Vietnam they are made into perfume.
- From what I can tell, in California the Tahitian pummelo grows to be a smallish tree/large shrub.
- I have read that some people just plant citrus in the ground without much fanfare. However, I have not had any previous luck with this Laissez-faire method of fruit tree planting.
- Therefore, I did what has worked for me in the past; I aggressively augmented the soil with grow mulch/compost, and inoculated with Micorriza. Click here for the planting method that I have used with great success.
- I also added in some peat moss to the soil because I figured that this may help to mimic the plants native-tropical soil. I don’t know if this peat moss is necessary or even helpful, but the plant is doing very well at them moment.
- I water most of my other citrus around 2-3x a week in the summer.
- However, because of the trees tropical heritage, I have been erring on the side of wet.
- I have planted a few ferns around the tree as a kind-of “canary in the coal mine” in hopes that the ferns will wilt and inform me of the need to water before the Tahitian pummelo gets too stressed.
- I also planted the tree right next to a water fountain in a wind protected location thinking that there might be a tiny bit of localized increased humidity as a result. Am I crazy? Perhaps, but for whatever reason the tree looks very happy.
- Regardless of your method, don’t let this tree dry out.
- Covering the ground around the base of the tree with a good layer of wood mulch will help to retain moisture.
- The Tahitian pummelo seems to prefer full sun.
- However, I have read that in Asia, palm trees are planted to shade the young citrus trees but are removed at the end of 3-5y to allow full sun exposure.
- That being said, I planted the Tahitian pummelo that I have in full sun from the start even though the tree was likely younger than 3y when I planted it. The tree has been doing very well in full (coastal influenced) California sun from the beginning.
- I haven’t found much information about fertilizing the Tahitian pummelo.
- Ok, that is not entirely true; in Asia “night soil” is commonly used as a fertilizer.
- What is “night soil” you ask? Well I didn’t know either until I looked it up. As it turns out, “night soil” is people poo. Since crapping on my plants is not an option for me I had to look elsewhere.
- In Asia, the burnt husks of rice plants are also spread around the base of the plants to allow it to seep into the soil. Since I don’t have access to rice husks I was kind-of on my own.
- Therefore, I have been fertilizing the Tahitian pummelo the same way I do the rest of my citrus and go figure… it seems happy.
- I have also read that Pummelo trees may need nutritional sprays to correct zinc, manganese or boron deficiencies. Because, I have not had a lot of personal success with nutritional sprays I have been adding these micro-nutrients directly into the soil in the form of citrus specific fertilizer.
- This is a tropical plant. Therefore, I suspect it is rather frost sensitive, although I don’t know that for sure. To be safe, keep the tree out of low areas in your yard where cool air can collect.
- 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?”
- The major pest for all of my citrus is the Citrus Leafminer. Click here to see my post about the diagnosis and treatment of Citrus Leafminer.
- However, I recently also discovered a mealybug infestation on a few branches of this Tahitian Pummelo. I quickly cured the tree of these sap suckers with a thorough blast of water, followed by horticulture oil spray and then Tanglefoot around the trunk (see Tanglefoot discussion below).
- I also suspect that the Tahitian pummelo is venerable to the rest of the usual citrus attacking suspects (aphids, scale etc).
- One of the most important things to do is to keep the ants out of the tree which often bring aphids, scale and mealybugs with them. A great way to do this is to use Tanglefoot. However, don’t apply Tanglefoot directly to the bark because the thin bark of citrus can be easily damaged this way. Create a skirt of masking tape around the trunk of the tree (with the sticky-side out) or buy the Tanglefoot guard paper wrap. Then add the Tanglefoot on that skirt/paper.
- Phytophthora root rot seems to be a big issue in Asia.
- Update (7/29/13): I noticed a grasshoppers munching on a leaf of this tree a few days ago. I tried to usher it elsewhere, however, this brave (or dumb) little guy don’t seem to care much if I poked him. Eventually he hopped just where I didn’t want him to go; deep in the tree. The funny thing is that when I came back the next day, he was in the exact same spot as when I first saw him. He crawled back to the exact same leaf he was munching on before. It seems that when they find a spot they like they come back to it. Anyhow, I easily caught the bugger today (with a glass container) and sent him on his way.
- It is hard to imagine what else you would do with a Tahitian pummelo other than eat it fresh right out of your hand.
- Although the fruit is huge, I find myself completely devouring it before I can even think of other options for it.
- I am sure that Tahitian pummelo fruit would be good in salads or just about anything you would use other citrus for… but why bother.
- In Asia, the fruit is made into preserves, the juice is made into beverages and the peel is candied.
- The pummelo is the principal ancestor of the grapefruit. However, in my strong opinion, grapefruits are not an improvement on this parent tree.
- The pummelo is native to southeastern Asia and all of Malaysia. It was introduced into China around 100 B.C.
- Flowers, leaves and sap from the tree are used in many folk remedies throughout Asia to treat illnesses ranging from epilepsy to ulcers.
- Pummelo AKA: Pomelo, Sarawak pomelo, Pamplemousse Tahiti, Pamplemousse Sarawak, limau abong, limau betawi, limau bali, limau besar, limau bol, limau jambua, Bali lemon, Tahitian grapefruit.