This tool is part of the Citrus Resource

Citrus ID






Bahia, Baiana, Baraque, Bernard, Cram, Cranston's, Daenkan, De Umbigo, Eddy, Fischer, Fisher, Herps, Houghton, Huasshedun, Hutchinson, Kebby, Neeburu, Original, Parent, Rubidoux, Thomson Ahrech, Tibbets, Umbigo, Warren (sec. Cottin 2002); Baia, Riverside (sec. Hodgson 1967)

Cultivar or taxon


Citrus x aurantium L., pro sp. [Sweet Orange Group] (sensu Mabberley 1997, Bayer et al. 2009); Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck (sensu Swingle and Reece 1967; sensu Tanaka sec. Cottin 2002)



Hodgson (1967) noted that:

"The origin of the Washington or Bahia variety is not known but, after a study at first hand, Dorsett, Shamel, and Popenoe (1917) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that it was probably a limb sport that was found in a tree of the Selecta variety near Bahia, Brazil, and first propagated some time between 1810 and 1820. In the opinion of the writer, it is more likely that the parent variety was the Portuguese navel (Umbigo) orange described by Risso and Poiteau (1818-22) and that it originated somewhat earlier.

The marked superiority of the new variety was noted by travelers and visitors and led to its introduction into Australia in 1824 and Florida in 1835. It is known that trees were sent from Australia to California as early as 1870 (Coit 1915, p. 16). The introduction that led to adoption of the name Washington and to its commercialization in California and most other countries where it is now grown, however, occurred in 1870 when twelve budded trees were received from Bahia by William 0. Saunders, superintendent of gardens and grounds for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington. These were planted in a greenhouse and immediately propagated for distribution. Several years later trees were sent to a number of persons in California and Florida. Among those who received trees were L. C. Tibbets of Riverside, Alexander Craw of San Diego, and Edwin Kimball of Hayward (Butterfield 1963, p. 34).

It was the Tibbets planting, however, that resulted in the name Washington being attached to this variety and brought it into prominence. It is believed that Tibbets received and planted three trees in his dooryard, located near the present junction of Central and Palm Avenues, two of which survived and became sources of budwood a few years later. In 1903, one of these was transplanted to a location in front of the Glenwood Hotel (now the Mission Inn) where it survived only a few years. At about the same time, the other tree became the property of the City of Riverside and was removed to its present location at the head of Magnolia Avenue, where it still exists, although in a condition of decline from which it seems unlikely to recover.

Planted in March, 1874 (Mills 1943), the Tibbets trees came into bearing early and the fruit soon attracted local attention. Exhibited at a citrus fair in Riverside on January 22, 1879, by the Southern California Horticultural Society, it was awarded first prize over other navel oranges, all of which were from stock previously imported from Australia. The Washington was so superior that enterprising nurserymen and growers propagated it extensively and within a decade or two it became the leading variety, a position it held for many years. Thomas W. Cover, a local nurseryman and grower, who also exhibited it at the above-mentioned fair, is credited with having first propagated the Washington variety. From California it early spread to other parts of the citricultural world and soon became a major variety, now second only to Valencia.

As to whom credit is due for calling the Bahia navel orange to Mr. Saunder's attention and providing the budded trees received by him in 1870, the facts are somewhat uncertain. Coit (1915, p. 17) states that a woman missionary stationed at Bahia was responsible, but Webber (1943, p. 531) credits F. I. C. Schneider, whom be states was the first Presbyterian missionary sent to Bahia. It seems likely that both statements are correct and that the transaction involved both Mrs. Schneider and her husband, for in later correspondence Mr. Saunders stated that his correspondent was a woman.

Although early introduced and planted extensively in Florida, this variety has proven to have only limited commercial value there. It tends to produce poorly and the fruit is generally large, coarse-textured, and of poor quality. It is clearly not well adapted to hot, semitropical climates. There are several other navel varieties or local origin, however, that do much better in Florida and have been planted commercially in recent years, among which are Summerfield, Glen, and Dream. So far as can be ascertained these are all seedling or mutant clones of obscure.

Presumably having originated as a limb sport, Washington has exhibited a remarkable degree of somatic instability, giving rise by bud mutation to numerous clonal varieties and many chimeras. That earliest recognized in California is Australian, which may have originated in Australia but more likely in Brazil. It is more vigorous but commercially nearly worthless. Some of the earlier introductions into Florida seem likely to have been mutant clones. The principal varieties known to have originated in California as limb sports include Thomson, Carter, Robertson, Atwood and Gillette. Of little or no importance are Navelencia, Nugget, Buckeye, Riverside Early, Surprise, Yellow, and Summernavel. Several have been reported from South Africa and Australia.

There are also a number of named clonal selections and at least one nucellar clonal budline currently under propagation.

Although a number of outstanding trees have been selected and registered for use in propagation, three have been of principal interest in recent years, namely Eddy, Parent (Original, Tibbets), and Warren. Eddy was named for the owner of a superior orchard in Arlington, California, the clone of which traces back to an outstanding tree at East Highlands. Warren goes back to an outstanding tree near Glendora, California, that was selected by C. M. Warren, long-time prominent citrus nurseryman. Parent, as the name and synonyms indicate, is the last remaining tree of the Tibbets introduction from Washington, D.C., and hence the original clone to which this variety traces in California. Unfortunately, for some years past it has been declining in vigor and in 1967 seemed unlikely to survive much longer. Other selections that have been used somewhat include Cram and Fisher."

The Chiefland Budwood Facility (2010) provided the following additional notes under Fisher (clone DPI-135): "Discovered as an old budsport of a Washington navel by Mrs. Fisher in California....The Florida introduction was received from California CCPP in 2001. Has been shoot-tip grafted and virus indexed by CGIP, completed in 2007. Budwood is available for trial planting but has not yet released to the Florida industry."

The Chiefland Budwood Facility (2010) provided the following additional notes on the cultivar (clone F-60-18): "A Washington navel nucellar selection originating from Glen St. Mary’s Nursery. Planted in the DPI WHTP in 1958 from fruit collected from Glen St. Mary block at Dundee. Planted at I-4 Foundation Grove 1960."



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 short; wings narrow, adjoining the blade. Leaflets one, margin bluntly toothed, shade leaflet blades weakly conduplicate, sun leaflet blades weakly or strongly conduplicate. Scent of crushed leaflets sweetly orange-like. Fruit as broad as long or longer than broad; rind yellow (7-10), yellow-orange (11), orange (12), or red-orange (13); rind texture slightly rough (4-5); firmness leathery; navel present; flesh orange; taste acidic-sweet.

Hodgson (1967) provided the following additional notes on the cultivar:

"Fruit large, spherical to obovoid or ellipsoid; base sometimes slightly collared; apex often slightly protruded or broadly nippled; navel medium to large and sometimes protruding navel; seedless. Especially well-colored (deep orange). Rind medium-thick, somewhat tender; surface coarsely pitted and moderately pebbled. Flesh color deep; texture firm; moderately juicy; flavor rich. Fruit holds on tree and stores and ships relatively well, but processes poorly. Early in maturity.

Tree round-topped, somewhat drooping, and medium in size and vigor. Sensitive to heat and aridity during bloom and fruit-setting, and hence restricted in range of climatic adaptation. Anthers cream-colored, for they are devoid of pollen."

The Chiefland Budwood Facility (2010) provided the following additional notes under Fisher (clone DPI-135): "It is early maturing but color break lags."

The Chiefland Budwood Facility (2010) provided the following additional notes on the cultivar (clone F-60-18): "The fruit is typically large with an open non-protruding navel; yields are good with average brix/acid ratios. (SPB-54)"



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.

Butterfield, H.M. 1963. A history of subtropical fruits and nuts in California. University of Californica, Division of Agricultural Sciences, Berkeley. 57 p.

Chiefland Budwood Facility. 2010. 2010 Annual report July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2010. Bureau of Citrus Budwood Registration, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Winter Haven.

Coit, J.E. 1915. Citrus Fruits. The Macmillan Co., New York. 520 pp.

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

Dorsett, P.H., A.D. Shamel, and W. Popenoe. 1917. The navel orange of Bahia; with notes on some little-known Brazilian fruits. U.S. Department of Agriculture Bulletin 445. 35 pp.

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.

Mills, M.T. 1943. Luther Calvin Tibbets, founder of the navel orange industry. Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly 25: 126–161.

Risso, J.A. and A. Poiteau. 1818-22. Histoire naturelle des orangers. Audot, Paris. 280 pp.

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.

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.



Search for this cultivar in NCBI Entrez, NCBI Nucleotide, or NCBI Expressed Sequence Tags

Additional information on this cultivar at University of California: Riverside Citrus Variety Collection (Parent Washington) (2 (Parent Washington), 3 (Fisher), 4 (Tibbetts Parent Washington))


Citrus ID Edition 2
October, 2011