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Citrus ID


Pummelos (Common)




Citrus aurantium [var.] grandis L.; C. aurantium [var.] decumana L.; C. decumana L.; Aurantium decumana (L.) Mill.; Citrus pamplemos Risso; C. maxima (Burm.) Merr. (sec. Swingle and Reece 1967)

Cultivar or taxon


Citrus maxima (Burm.) Merr. (sec. Mabberley 1997, Bayer et al. 2009; sec. Tanaka sec. Cottin 2002); Citrus grandis (L.) Osbeck (sec. Swingle and Reece 1967)



Hodgson (1967) noted that:

"It seems reasonably certain that the pummelo is indigenous to the Malayan and East Indian archipelagos, whence it early spread to South China and India and thence followed the same path as most of the other citrus fruits to Europe and America. According to Tolkowsky (1938), it was mentioned in Palestine in 1187 A.D. and in Spain about the same time. Ferrari (1646) described and illustrated several kinds in Italy. According to Webber (1943), it was mentioned and described in Jamaica in 1696 under the name shaddock and in 1707 an account of its introduction reported that seed of this fruit had been brought to Barbados by a Captain Shaddock, in command of an East Indian ship (see [Webber et al. 1967], footnote 6). The name, shaddock, has persisted ever since in the West Indies and the United States. Pummelo is the preferred name, however, and appears to have been derived from pompelmoes or pomplemoose, names given to it by the Dutch in the East Indies (Indonesia). In French it is the pamplemousse, in Italian the pompelmo, in Spanish the pampelmus, and in Japanese the buntan or zabon. The large size of the fruit is reflected in the species designations most commonly employed (maxima, grandis)."



Crown compact or dense, not weeping. First-year twig surface pubescent; second- or third-year twig surface striate; thorns absent or not persistent or straight; prickles absent or not persistent. Petiole glabrous or pubescent, length short, medium, long or very long; wings absent, if present, narrow, medium or wide, adjoining the blade or tucking beneath blade. Leaflets one, margin entire, crenate/crenulate or bluntly toothed, shade leaflet blades flat or weakly conduplicate, sun leaflet blades flat, weakly or strongly conduplicate. Scent of crushed leaflets sweetly orange-like, spicy or peppery, freshly lemon-like, somewhat to strongly malodorous or not scented. Fruit broader than long, as broad as long, or longer than broad; rind green-yellow (6), yellow (7-10), yellow-orange (11), or orange (12); rind texture smooth (1-3), slightly rough (4-5), or medium rough (6-7); firmness leathery; navel absent; flesh red/purplish-tinged or yellow; taste grapefruit-like or acidic-sweet.

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

"A large, spiny, round-topped tree with angular twigs, often pubescent; leaves large or very large, oval or elliptic-oval, with a blunt point at the tip and a broadly rounded base, often subcordate and even slightly overlapping the winged petiole; midrib and large veins often pubescent; petioles broadly winged, and more or less cordate, usually pubescent; flowers very large, borne singly or in axillary clusters or in subterminal inflorescences; sepals and petals 5; stamens 20-25, with large linear anthers; ovary globose, sharply delimited from the deciduous style, with many segments; fruit large or very large, subglobose, oblate-spheroid or subpyriform; seeds large, thick, wrinkled."

"Citrus grandis is one of the most distinct and most easily recognized species of Citrus. It is separated from the other species of the genus by a number of easily seen characters.

Its thick, often pubescent, angular young twigs, with huge leaves borne on broadly winged, more or less heart-shaped petioles, its very large flowers and giant pale yellow fruits often the size of a child's head, make the species impossible to mistake. The fruit usually has a thick peel and the pulp-vesicles are much larger than those of other species of Citrus. Instead of cohering with one another, they easily fall apart. The membranes that enclose the segments, although thin, are so strong that they can be peeled off the enclosed mass of pulp-vesicles easily. If this is done carefully, the segment remains intact in spite of having lost its covering membrane."



Swingle and Reece (1967) additionally noted that:

"Besides the morphological differences distinguishing it from the other species of Citrus , the pummelo was discovered to have an important chemical difference (later found to be shared by the grapefruit): it contains naringin, a bitter glucoside related to the nearly tasteless hesperidin of the sweet orange and to the bitter aurantamarin of the sour orange, but differing from both. (Full information on naringin is given by Will, 1885 and 1887; see also Zoller, 1918, Poore, 1934; and table 3-4 [see Swingle and Reece 1967].) Certain Oriental pummelos have a slightly higher content of vitamin C than oranges or grapefruit. Pummelos are highly esteemed in both China and Thailand."

Hodgson (1967) additionally noted that:

"While most of the pummelos are inferior or worthless as fresh fruits, there are superior kinds and varieties that are highly prized in the Orient and grown commercially. The principal centers of such production occur in southern China, Thailand (Siam), Vietnam (Indo-China). [sic] Malaysia (Malaya), Indonesia, Taiwan (Formosa), and Japan. The distribution of superior varieties and the environmental conditions under which good eating quality is attained appear to be restricted however, and elsewhere in the Orient the fruit is used primarily for culinary and medicinal purposes. In other parts of the citricultural world, the pummelo has remained a collection item or novelty of interest principally for breeding purposes because of its giant-sized fruits."

"As would be expected, the varieties of commercial importance consist of clones of the common and pigmented groups, the fruits of which are oblate, round, or broadly pyriform, with relatively thin rinds, and sweet to mildly acid in flavor. The writer must of necessity rely upon the literature, which is limited, in describing the characteristics of some of the varieties."



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.

Ferrari, G.B. 1646. Hesperides: sive De Malorum aureorum cultura et usu libri quatuor. Hermanni Scheus, Rome. 480 pp.

Groff, G.W. 1927. Culture and varieties of Siamese pummelos as related to introductions into other countries. Lingnan Science Journal 5: 187–254.

Hodgson, R.W. 1967. Horticultural varieties of Citrus. In: Reuther, W., H.J. Webber, and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry, rev. University of California Press.

Mabberley, D.J. 1997. A classification for edible Citrus (Rutaceae). Telopea 7: 167–172.

Poore, H.D. 1934. Recovery of naringin and pectin from grapefruit residue. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry 26: 637–639.

Reinking, O.A. 1929. The double pummelo of Banda and Amboa. Journal of Heredity 20: 449–458.

Soost, R.K. 1964. Self-incompatibility in Citrus grandis (L.) Osbeck. Proceedings of the American Society of Horticultural Science 84: 137–140.

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.

Tolkowsky, S. 1938. Hesperides: a history of the culture and use of citrus fruits. John Bale Sons & Curnow, London. 371 pp.

Webber, H.J. 1943. Cultivated varieties of citrus. In: Webber, H.J. and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry. I: 475-668. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Will, W. 1885. Ueber das Naringin. Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft. Berichte. Berlin. 18: 1311–1325.

Will, W. 1887. Ueber den Zucker aus Hesperidin un [sic] Naringin. Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft. Berichte. Berlin 20: 294–304, 1186–90.

Zoller, H.F. 1918. Some constituents of the American grapefruit (Citrus decamana). Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry 10: 364–375.



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Citrus ID Edition 2
October, 2011