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Citrus ID


Citrus macroptera




Citrus papuana F.M. Bailey (sec. Swingle and Reece 1967)

Cultivar or taxon


Citrus hystrix DC. (sensu Bayer et al. 2009); Citrus macroptera Montr. (sensu Swingle and Reece 1967; sensu Tanaka sec. Cottin 2002)



Swingle and Reece (1967) noted that: "This species was discovered by Father Montrouzier on the Island of Art, situated a few miles to the northwest of the north end of New Caledonia. What appears to be the same species was described and figured in 1903 by F. M. Bailey from Milne Bay, New Guinea, about 1,200 miles to the northwest. Unfortunately Bailey had no flowers and Montrouzier in his account does not describe the flowers in adequate detail."



Crown compact or dense, not weeping. First-year twig surface glabrous; second- or third-year twig surface striate; thorns straight; prickles absent or not persistent. Petiole glabrous, length very long; wings wide, adjoining the blade. Leaflets one, margin bluntly toothed, shade leaflet blades weakly conduplicate, sun leaflet blades weakly or strongly conduplicate. Scent of crushed leaflets spicy or peppery. Fruit as broad as long or longer than broad; rind green-yellow (6), yellow (7-10), or yellow-orange (11); rind texture slightly rough (4-5); firmness leathery; navel absent; flesh yellow; taste sour.

Swingle and Reece (1967) provided the following additional notes on the species:

"Father Montrouzier's original description in Latin may be translated as follows: "Petioles broadly winged, distinctly articulated; leaves elongate-acuminate, only twice as long as the petiole, subcrenulate, with very numerous [oil] glandlets, 5-6 inches [12-14 cm] long excluding the petiole; twigs subcompressed, with one long spine on young twigs and one short spine on old twigs in the axils of the leaves; peduncles axillary, often extra-axillary, several crowded together, bracteate; calyx with 4-5 small sepals; corolla with 4-5 petals with valvate aestivation; petals elongate, concave; stamens 20; ovary subhemispherical; style thick, round; stigma depressed; fruit with 10-12 segments, pubescent; segments 1-2 seeded, with scanty pulp, depressed, almost without juice, about the size and form of an orange. A tree 15-16 feet [4.2-5 m] high, growing near the houses of the natives on the Island of Art. It flowers in September, and is commonly called don gan."

Bailey's original description of his Citrus papuana, doubtless a synonym of C. macroptera, reads as follows: "Branchlets green, very angular like those of the common orange, all parts more or less covered with amber-coloured lenticular glands; axillary spines straight, erectopatent, about 1/2 in. long. Leaves broadly-lanceolate, 2 to 5 in. long, the winged petiole cuneate 2 to 3 1/2 in. long and from 1 to 2 in. broad at the top; margins with broad shallow crenulations, the lenticular glands very numerous on the midrib, both surfaces punctate; lamina very freely disarticulating from the petiole. (No flowers collected.) Fruit globose, about 2 1/2 in. in diameter, pale yellow, smooth; glands small, slightly concave; ring about 1/2 in. thick; cells 10. In foliage this species somewhat resembles C. hystrix, D.C.""

"This species is characterized by large leaves, sometimes 10 or 12 inches long (including the very large winged petiole) and 2 inches wide; it has subglobose fruits the size and shape of an orange, but with very little juice."



Swingle and Reece (1967) additionally noted that:

"Wichmann (1917, p. 202) told of getting a fresh supply of fruits at a village on the shores of Lake Sentani in northern Dutch New Guinea (now West Irian, Indonesia). Among these were thick-skinned fruits of a Citrus with pulp "so disgustingly bitter that it was hours before one's mouth got free from the taste." This persistent bitter taste is due to the numerous droplets of acrid oil that are found in the pulp-vesicles of all species of the subgenus Papeda and in some of the hybrids of them with species of the subgenus Citrus.

A beautiful Citrus which Swingle saw growing wild in the primeval forest on the lower slopes of Mount Maquiling in southern Luzon, P.I., belongs, he believed, to C. macroptera. It has usually long-pointed leaves with very large, entire, winged petioles, and smooth, subglobose fruits the size of a large orange. The conviction that this Citrus is truly indigenous in the primeval forests on the lowers slopes of Mount Maquiling is substantiated by the observation of D. A. Herbert (1924, p. 195), who reported that this Citrus (which he called C. hystrix) occurs occasionally in the dipterocarp forest, which was the original forest growth on Mount Maquiling up to an altitude of about 600 meters.

This species doubtless grows wild in New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Celebes, southern Luzon, and the southern islands of the Philippines. It has reached New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, Guam, and probably many other of the Polynesian islands, probably being carried by the Polynesians for use in washing. Safford (l.c., pp. 226-27) gave a firsthand account of the use of the fruit pulp of this species in Guam not only for washing the hair, but also as a substitute for soap in washing clothing. He stated further that the macerated leaves form a lather when water is added. Safford whose observations apply also to Samoa, cited F. Reinecke (1898, pp. 642-43) to show that both the pressed-out fruit juice and the macerated leaves form a lather when rubbed and that they are specially useful in washing the hair to free it from the lime which is much used by the natives to bleach the hair. Both Safford and Reinecke noted that after the fruit falls off the tree the peel hardens and becomes like a stony shell in drying. [...]

The plants of C. macroptera that have been grown in Florida from seed obtained from trees found growing wild on Mount Maquiling, Luzon, P.I., were reported by T. Ralph Robinson (Keys, 1923) as being immune to withertip and resistant to canker. This large-fruited, disease-resistant, and vigorous strain is promising for use in breeding new and superior citrus rootstocks."



Bailey, F.M. 1903. Contributions to the flora of British New Guinea. G. A. Vaughan, Gov't Printer, Brisbane. 3 pp.

Bayer, R.J., D.J. Mabberley, C. Morton, C.H. Miller, I.K. Sharma, B.E. Pfeil, S. Rich, R. Hitchcock, and S. Sykes. 2009. A molecular phylogeny of the orange subfamily (Rutaceae: Aurantioideae) using nine cpDNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 96: 668–685.

Cottin, R. 2002. Citrus of the World: A citrus directory. Version 2.0. France: SRA INRA-CIRAD.

Herbert, D.A. 1924. Plant life on Mount Maquiling. Philippine Agriculturist 13: 183–197.

Keys, A. 1923. Report on a mission to Florida. Barbados Botanic Garden, Bridgetown. 8 pp.

Reinecke, F. 1898. Die flora der Samoa-Inseln. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik, Pflanzengeschichte und Pflanzengeographie. 25: 578–708.

Swingle, W.T. and P.C. Reece. 1967. The botany of Citrus and its wild relatives. In: Reuther, W., H.J. Webber, and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry. Ed. 2. Vol. I. University of California, Riverside.

Wichmann, A. 1917. Bericht ueber eine im Jahr 1903 ausgeführte Reise nach Neu-Guinea. Nova Guinea 4: 1–493.



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Citrus ID Edition 2
October, 2011