Citrus Ancestry



Recently, while going through Wikipedia, I discovered that most citrus fruits are hybrids.  I knew that some were, like the ugli fruit and Meyer lemon, but I had no idea that it was basically every citrus I had ever eaten.

Researchers believe that there are four original citrus fruits: the citron, the papeda, the mandarin, and the pomelo.  Out of them, I only enjoy mandarins, and even then, they tend to be dipped in chocolate first.  Almost everything else, from grapefruits to limes, are hybrids of these four.



I thought it might be interesting to compare different citrus fruits by their ancestry and see whether any trends stood out.  All of these percentages are from my interpretations of their Wikipedia articles, with me assuming that, unless otherwise stated, a hybrid is 50/50 each parent.

The final resultant chart is below.

Citrus Fruit Ancestry




As you can see, some are just specialized varieties of the pure citrus fruits, like the Buddha’s Hand, but most are hybrids of two or more of the origins.  Some, like the Persian Lime and the Rhobs al-Arsa, are even hybrids of all four of them.  A lot of them I had never even heard of before, like lumias or murcotts.  Just the name of the Rhobs al-Arsa makes me want to try it.

Oddly enough, though, I didn’t really find any trends.  My three favorites, grapefruits, meyer lemons, and persian limes, don’t really have similar ancestries.  It does suggest some new fruits to try, just based on similar genetics.  I’ll have to try a ponkan and a Ponderosa lemon one of these days.



I hope you find this sort of thing as interesting as I do.  Any thoughts?

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13 Responses to Citrus Ancestry

  1. charles says:

    You are in the right profession!
    Have you considered writing articles like this for profit? Interesting topic + data + cool graphics = interesting article. At least to me. I wonder which outlets would be appropriate?


  2. christinadrh says:

    Very interesting! I eat Meyer lemons every day and just the other day thought about what it was crossed with. So who is Meyer?


  3. innatejames says:

    The only fruit of the original 4 I’ve heard of is the Mandarin. I guess that says something about how forgotten the citrus fruit descendency has become.


  4. Pingback: The Florentine Bizzaria | John Kutensky

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