Where Do Citrus Fruits Come From?

I always wondered where these things grow wild, but it turns out that most of the cultivated varieties except one are hybrids. Some are ancient hybrids and others are more modern hybrids.

Questions:

Where do oranges, mandarin oranges, limes, grapefruits, tangerines and lemons ultimately come from for the most part (not including the modern hybrids)?

Which one of these – orange, mandarin orange, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, lemon – is actually a wild growing plant (and is actually one of the origin plants for the cultivated varieties)?

Name the four wild plants that all of the cultivated varieties derive from (hard question).

Name the two types of cultivated limes. Which is an ancient plant and which is a modern hybrid?

Which two are modern modern hybrids: orange, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin orange, or tangerine?

3 Comments

Filed under Agricutlure, Regional

3 responses to “Where Do Citrus Fruits Come From?

  1. I think that the small and tart Key Lime are indigenous to south Florida.

  2. Noneofmany

    Actually, no one can really tell for certain which ancestral plants are responsible any given cultivar we know today except for very recent ones.

    There are several American citrus plants like clementine that started showing up in Texas and the panhandle in the last century for instance whose origin is still debaters.

    That said the mandarin orange is likely the only really wild citrus fruit we eat today that hasn’t been totally altered beyond recognition. Although I do see pomelo flavored stuff here and there.

    Citron and papeda are the other two ancestral species.

    All oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines are essentially a cross between a mandarin orange (wild) and a pomelo, except many of them were perfected via cross breeding back along there own lines.

    Lemons and limes are the other side of the family. You can tell there ancestry lies with the citron and papedas.

    That said I’m not even really sure anyone knows when or exactly where the the first lemons/limes were bred as this event significantly predates the genesis of oranges and has virtually no known documentation or verbal history associated with it. Most likely it happened in south east Asia.

    It bears mentioning that kumquats are not considered to be in the same family as other citrus. In fact many botanists deny that they are actually a citrus and not just a tiny family of plants that are very closely related. They were not made edible through hybridization just selective breeding. Nevertheless they have now been crossed with mandarins.
    Wild types can still be found with edible berries. There not very tasty though as there mostly seed and pulp.

    All citrus plants, like so many other plants used by man, are from a fairly primitive lineage of flowering plants. Like roses and magnolias.

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