Citrus maxima, the pomelo (also called pummelo or shaddock) in the Rutaceae (citrus family). It is a medium-sized tree but the largest of all Citrus species, with large leaves, flowers, and fruits. The species is native to southern China and Malaysia (and possibly other parts of southeast Asia), and is now cultivated in many tropical and semi-tropical countries for its large fruits. This species was a progenitor of the grapefruit (C. X paradisi) and the tangelo (C. reticulata), among other modern citrus hybrids. Pomelos are often confused with grapefruits, from which they can generally be distinguished by their larger size, thicker rinds, milder—even sweet—flavor, and tough bitter membranes that are often considered inedible.
The C. maxima tree, which is the most cold-intolerant citrus species, has a rounded crown and grows 5 to 15 m (15 to 50 ft) tall. The tree has large evergreen oblong to elliptic leaves, 10.5 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) long, with winged petioles (leaf stems). The flowers and fruits are borne singly, in contrast to grapefruits (C. X paradisi), in which they grown in clusters of 2 to 20. The fruits, which vary from round to pear-shaped and ripen to yellow, orange, or red, are large--30 cm or more in diameter, and weighing up to 9 kg (20 lbs). The flesh of the fruit, which may be greenish yellow, yellow, pink, or red, is often juicy, and divided into 11 to 18 segments. The flavor is sweet to somewhat acidic.
Like other citrus fruits, pomelos are high in vitamin C. They are generally eaten as a fresh fruit, and they store well. They have long been popular in Asia, especially China, Indonesia, and Thailand, but are increasingly found in specialty markets in the U.S. as well. The juice is also used in various beverages (both alcoholic and non), and the peel may be candied. Traditional medicinal uses of the fruit include treatment of coughs, fevers, and gastrointestinal disorders. The aromatic flowers are picked and processed into perfume in Vietnam, and the wood, which is heavy and hard-grained, used for making tool handles.
(Bailey et al. 1976, Morton 1987, van Wyk 2005.)
- Bailey, L.H., E.Z. Bailey, and the L.H. Bailey Hortatorium. 1976. Hortus Third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. New York: Macmillan. p. 276.
- Morton, J. 1987. Pummelo. Citrus maxima. p. 147–151. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL. Available online from http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/pummelo.html.
- van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. “Citrus maxima.” Food Plants of the World: An Illustrated Guide. Portland, OR: Timber Press. P. 141.
Habitat & Distribution
Life History and Behavior
Evolution and Systematics
The pummelo fruit has excellent damping properties due to the hierarchical organization of its composite peel
"Natural materials often exhibit excellent mechanical properties. An example of outstanding impact resistance is the pummelo fruit (Citrus maxima) which can drop from heights of 10 m and more without showing significant outer damage. Our data suggest that this impact resistance is due to the hierarchical organization of the fruit peel, called pericarp." (Fischer 2010: B658)
"Citrus maxima is the largest fruit among the genus Citrus with a fruit weight up to 6 kg and a maximal height of the fruit bearing trees of 15 m. In combination these two factors, fruit weight and the height of the fruit bearing branches, cause a high potential energy of the hanging fruit. After the fruit is shed its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy which reaches its maximum just before impact with the ground. If the high kinetic energy was to cause the pummelos to split open when impacting with the ground, the fruits would perish within a short time due to the tropical climate in Southeast Asia, the region of origin of the genus Citrus." (Fischer 2010: B659)
"Semi-quantitative analyses of thin sections of pummelo peel revealed a gradual transition in density between exocarp and mesocarp. Thus, structurally, the dense exocarp cannot be separated clearly from the spongy mesocarp. We hypothesize that due to this lack of an abrupt change in tissue composition and therefore in structural and mechanical properties the risk of delamination of the tissues during impact is reduced. The impact force acting on the pummelo depends on the velocity of the fruit before impact and its weight, but also on the consistency of the ground. Under natural conditions, part of the total energy is dissipated by the relatively pliable ground, as typically existing in the regions where pummelos grow naturally. In the tests presented mechanical loads acting on the fruits were increased by dropping the fruits onto a hard ground. Thus all kinetic energy must have been dissipated by the fruits themselves. The mesocarp with its air-filled intercellular spaces represents a compressible foam. As the Young’s modulus of this spongy part of the peel is rather low, we conclude that its ability to dissipate large amounts of energy must result from the structural composition of the peel." (Fischer 2010: B662)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Fischer SF; Thielen M; Lobrang RR; Seidel R; Fleck C; Speck T; Bührig-Polaczek A. 2010. Pummelos as concept generators for biomimetically inspired low weight structures with excellent damping properties. Advanced Engineering Materials. 12(12): B658-B663.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Citrus maxima
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Citrus maxima
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
Citrus maxima (or Citrus grandis), (Common names: shaddock, pomelo, pummelo, pommelo, or lusho fruit) is a crisp citrus fruit native to South and Southeast Asia. It is usually pale green to yellow when ripe, with sweet white (or, more rarely, pink or red) flesh and very thick albedo (rind pith). It is the largest citrus fruit, 15–25 centimetres (5.9–9.8 in) in diameter, and usually weighing 1–2 kilograms (2.2–4.4 lb).
Etymology, cultivation and uses
Citrus maxima was originally called "shaddock", in English, after the captain of an East India Company ship who introduced it to Jamaica in 1696. Recently the word "pomelo" has become the more common name, although "pomelo" has historically been used for grapefruit. (The 1973 printing of the American Heritage Dictionary for example gives grapefruit as the only meaning of "pomelo".)
The etymology of the word "pomelo" is uncertain. It is thought to perhaps be an alteration of the Dutch pompelmoes (meaning Citrus maxima) or alternatively, perhaps an alteration of a compound of pome ("apple") + melon.
Citrus maxima is native to Southeast Asia and is known there under a wide variety of names. In large parts of South East Asia, it is a popular dessert, often eaten raw sprinkled with or dipped in salt mixture. It is also eaten in salads and drinks.
The fruit tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit (which is itself believed to be a hybrid of Citrus maxima and the orange), though the typical shaddock is much larger in size than the grapefruit. It has very little, or none, of the common grapefruit's bitterness, but the enveloping membranous material around the segments is bitter, considered inedible, and thus usually is discarded. The peel is sometimes used to make marmalade, can be candied and sometimes dipped in chocolate. Citrus maxima is usually grafted onto other citrus rootstocks, but can be grown from seed, provided the seeds are not allowed to dry out before planting.
The two varieties are a sweet kind, which has white flesh, and a sour kind, which has pinkish flesh and is more likely to be used as an altar decoration than actually eaten. Pomelos are often eaten during the mid-autumn festival or mooncake festival; in Asia.
It is one of the ingredients of Forbidden Fruit, a liqueur dating back to the early 20th century that also contains honey and brandy. This liqueur is most famously used in the Dorchester cocktail.
In Brazil, the thick skin is often used for making a sweet conserve, while the middle is discarded.
The fruit is known by various local names in India, including "batabi lebu" (বাতাবি লেবু) in West Bengal, "robab tenga" in Assam, and "kambili naranga" in Kerala. In Hindi it is called "chakotra" चकोतरा or "Bijoura". In Nepal, it is called "bhogate" भोगटे.
The tangelo is a hybrid between Citrus maxima and the tangerine. It has a thicker skin than a tangerine and is less sweet. The Oroblanco is a hybrid between Citrus maxima and the grapefruit, the grapefruit itself being a hybrid between Citrus maxima and the sweet orange. Mandelos are another hybrid containing genetic material from Citrus maxima.
- "Shaddock". Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Growing the granddaddy of grapefruit, SFGate.com, December 25, 2004
- American Heritage Dictionary, 1973.
- “pomelo, n.” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [Draft revision; June 2008]
- "Pummelo". Hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- Grapefruit "Grapefruit". Hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
- "阿久根市： 観光・特産品（ボンタン）". City.akune.kagoshima.jp. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- "Fruity delight". Down To Earth. 2014-02-15. Retrieved 2014-10-30.
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