A Citrus Library

Infamous just visited the Florida Citrus Arboretum located in Winter Haven, Florida. Here is a picture of citrus we saw there.

An actual citrus type called Buddha's Hand

This plantation is maintained by the Florida Department of Agriculture. It is a repository of all the important types of citrus that were bred into our present day commercial varieties. Botanists keep such collections to have the DNA of plants that are vanishing in the wild. These trees were the Grandparents of our current types and they may contain genetic variation that would be helpful to reintroduce characteristics such as disease resistance and cold hardiness.

Citrus comes in a wide variety

It was interesting to see the colors, tree habits, fruit size and other strange things. The colors ranged from green to yellow to orange. Some trees were thorny and some had slim willow-shaped leaves. The fruit skins were variable from thick and wrinkly to smooth and thin skinned. The most amazing thing was the size variation. Some Kumquats were no bigger than a dime up to the Chinese Pummelo with was about 8 inches in diameter.

Small citrus with willow shaped leaves.

Pear shaped citrus

These rough skinned fruits are lemons

A Kumquat,

    Fortunella crassifolia

What did they all have in common? They all formed an edible fruit consisting of a terrible tasting skin covering compressed sections of fruit holding the seeds.

And now a tiny little botany lesson. Do you know what a hesperidium is? It is the fruit of a citrus. It is the special name botanists use for the type of berry produced by the citrus. Botanically, berries are a bunch of seeds surrounded by fleshy (sometimes tasty) plant meat. Then a skin is covering the berry. In the hesperidium, each section is that berry. So in other words, in an orange, all the orange sections are each a berry, botanically, and each berry is squished together with his brothers and they are all covered by a peel. So when you peel an orange, you reveal about 8-9 berries all lined up inside and each of them holding seeds. The whole unit that we call an orange is the hesperidium.

If you are interested in an unusual stop while in Florida, I would recommend the Budwood collection. It is not a tourist attraction and there is no one to guide you around. It is just a fenced in collection of citrus guarded by a receptionist. She charges you $8.00 per bag for picking your own collection in the plantation. You have to go through a shoe wash solution and be sprayed off with a mist of soapwater to reduce the transfer of citrus insects and diseases to their collection. There is a little map and all the trees are well marked. The best time to collect ripe citrus is early February. You can call them at (863) 298-7712 and get details. Our car navigation system got us there with no problem; the address is 3027 Lake Alfred Rd. (US 17), Winter Haven, FL 33881. They are open to the public Monday through Friday 9:00 to 4:00 for visitors.


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