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Citrus maxima

'Mato Buntan' pomelo


'Mato Buntan' pomelo
Gene Lester

The pomelo (pummelo) comes from southeast Asia. It grows wild in Malaysia. It is possibly an aboriginal introduction to Fiji and has naturalized there in sometimes dense forests along streams from sea level to an altitude of 800 m (2600 ft). It is commonly cultivated in many islands of French Polynesia. The pomelo was introduced to southern China during the last century B.C. It arrived to South America and the Caribbean at the end of the 17th century when captain Shaddock brought some seeds from the Malay islands and left them in Barbados thinking that the climate was warm enough. From there it spread to Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Pomelo has never fully established itself in the western hemisphere. Outside of the Far East it grows as a curiosity item in private gardens in Florida, the Caribbean Islands and Mexico. First attempts at commercial production outside Asia were made at the beginning of the 1900's in California and Florida. 'Valentine' pomelo

'Honey' pomelo
Pomelit pomelo
The biggest pomelo trees can be 15 metres (50 ft) tall. Pomelo is the biggest citrus fruit. In favourable conditions it can be 30 cm (12 in) wide and weigh over 3 kg (7 lb) when fully ripe. The rind is thick and hard to peel. The fruit is not very juicy but it is often not as acid as other citrus fruit and can be quite sweet.  It is especially suited to people who find other citrus types too sour. It is commercially grown in southern China, Thailand, Chinese Taipei, the southern islands of Japan, the Pacific Islands, Mexico and Israel.

Hybrids of pomelo arise easily. If a pomelo is cross-pollinated with another pomelo it usually has many seeds. If it is crossed with a sweet orange or mandarin the fruit are usually seedless, but if there are other seedy citrus types in the vicinity these pomelo hybrids can have some seeds in them due to spontaneous pollination. These seeds will not grow true fruit of the same type. In optimal conditions the pomelo bears flowers four times a year and the fruit can be picked after 8 - 12 months in four harvests. The fruit keeps well because of its thick peel. In fact, wrapped in paper and kept in well-aerated boxes, some types taste better after three months of storage. 

Pomelo and its hybrids, including the grapefruit, can often retain a greenish shade in the peel as well as the flesh even when fully ripe. This does not mean that the fruit is unripe or unsuitable for consumption. The colour of pomelo flesh can vary from lime green through orange to dark purple. Some pomelo types have a dark green peel and yet the flesh is red and sweet. Producers sometimes use a gas to make the colour of the peel more attractive for the consumer. This has no effect on the taste; both treated and greenish pomelos can safely be purchased and enjoyed.  Thong Dee pomelo

'Pomelit' pomelo At the end of the 17th century an English sea captain named Shaddock stopped at Barbados, the westernmost island of the West Indies, on his way home from the Pacific. He had brought seeds of the pomelo and left them on the island where they soon grew well and produced fruit. The new fruit was named after him and in some areas pomelo is still called shaddock. Hybrids of this fruit and a local variety of sweet orange were found around 1720 on the island and later became known as grapefruit.

LAT Citrus maxima (Burm.) Merril 'Siamese Sweet' pomelo
'Mato Buntan' pomelo
'Chandler' pomelo
Citrus grandis
  (L.) Osbeck
Citrus decumana  L.

Citus C. maxima is one of the four ancestral taxa (Citrus reticulata Blanco, mandarins; C. maxima (Burm.) Merr., pummelos; C. medica L., citrons; C. micrantha Wester, papedas) which are the ancestors of all cultivated Citrus.

Pomelo is the biggest citrus fruit. In optimal conditions it can reach the size of a basketball. Note that the pomelo (Citrus maxima) is in many languages called by the equivalent of its French name 'pamplemousse'. These languages have assigned the name pomelo to grapefruit.

The pomelo tree may be 16 to 50 ft (5-15 m) tall.  Some forms are dwarfed. The young branchlets are angular and often densely hairy, and there are usually spines on the branchlets, old limbs and trunk. The leaves are alternate, ovate, ovate-oblong, or elliptic, 2 to 8 in (5-20 cm) long, 3/4 to 4 3/4 in (2-12 cm) wide, leathery, dull-green, glossy above, dull and minutely hairy beneath, the petiole broadly winged to occasionally nearly wingless. The flowers are fragrant,yellowish-white, 3/5 to 1 1/3 in (1.5-3.5 cm) long, somewhat hairy on the outside.

The fruit ranges from nearly round to oblate or pear-shaped; 4 to 12 in (10-30 cm) wide; the peel, clinging or more or less easily removed, may be green, greenish-yellow or pale-yellow 1/2 to 3/4 in (1.25-2 cm) thick. Pulp varies from greenish-yellow or pale-yellow to pink or red; is divided into 11 to 18 segments, very juicy to fairly dry. The flavour varies from mildly sweet and bland to subacid or rather acid.

ENG Pomelo, Pummelo (US), Shaddock, West Indian pomelo, 
Thai grapefruit, Chinese grapefruit
FRA Pamplemousse, Pamplemousse doux des Antilles, 
Chadec, Shadek (Canada, Pacifique)
GER Pumelo, Shaddock, Riesenorange, Lederorange
I TA Pampaleone
ESP Cimboa, Pampelmusa
Photo   UCR Citrus Variety Collection
(2) Gene Lester
(3) CCPP

 LAT  Citrus maxima ‘Tahitian’ 'Tahitian' pomelo
'Tahitian' pomelo
'Sarawak' pomelo
Citrus maxima 'Sarawak'


Tahitian ('Moanalua'; often called 'Tahitian grapefruit') was grown from seed thought to have been taken from Borneo to Tahiti and later introduced into Hawaii. A typical pomelo but with a thin peel.

The peel is greenish-yellow and the flesh has a greenish shade as well, but may become amber in full maturity. The fruit is juicy and the taste is sweet and it may have a flavour of melon or lime. The flavour and quality are excellent and it is locally popular.

Tahitian pomelo is often used in the development of new cultivars of both pomelos and grapefruit.

 ENG Tahitian pomelo, Sarawak pomelo
 FRA Pamplemousse Tahiti, Pamplemousse Sarawak
Photo   (1,3) Gene Lester
UCR Citrus Variety Collection

 LAT Citrus maxima ‘Siamese Sweet’ 'Siamese Sweet' pomelo
Citrus grandis 'Siamese Sweet'

Siamese Sweet is an acidless, sweet-tasting pomelo from Thailand. It was introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1930 and grown at the Citrus Research Center, Riverside, California. The fruit is oblate to broad ovoid; pulp white, with large, crisp, non-juicy sacs easily separating from each other; mild-flavored but faintly bitter. Tree is a dwarf with drooping branches and hairy new growth.

This variety has been used in many development programmes. It is one of the parents of Oroblanco and Melogold pomelo-grapefruit hybrids, Chandler pomelo and Cocktail pomelo-mandarin hybrid (all described further down).

 ENG Siamese Sweet pomelo
 FRA Pamplemousse Siamese Sweet 
Photo   UCR Citrus Variety Collection

LAT Citrus maxima ’Sweetie’ Grapefruit 'Oroblanco'
Grapefruit 'Jaffa Sweetie'
Syn Citrus maxima 'Siamese Sweet' x Citrus paradisi '4n Marsh'
Citrus paradisi
Citrus paradisi 'Jaffa Sweetie'
Sweetie is one of the newest pomelo hybrids. Its parents are Siamese Sweet pomelo (described above) and a variant of Marsh grapefruit developed at the University of California, Riverside. The cross was made in 1958 and the new variety released in 1980. The flesh is pale yellow and the taste mild and sweet. 
This is one of the pomelos that retain some green on its rind even when ripe. The variety is also sold as Oroblanco grapefruit.

A similar cross made in Israel was released for sale in 1984 under the name 'Sweetie'. The Israeli 'Jaffa Sweetie' is sold as a variety of grapefruit and can remain dark green even when fully ripe, but tastes sweet nonetheless.

ENG  Sweetie, Jaffa Sweetie, Oroblanco grapefruit
FRA  Pomelo Sweetie, Pomelo Oroblanco 
Photo   CCPP
Citrus Marketing Board of Israel

 LAT Citrus maxima  ‘Thong Dee’ 'Thong Dee' pomelo
'Thong Dee' pomelo
  Thong Dee ('Khao Thongdi', 'Golden')  is a pomelo from Thailand. Both tree and fruit can grow very big. The fruit may have seeds if there are citrus trees with seeds in the vicinity, but is usually seedless. The fruit is juicy with a hint of pink.

The fruit is oblate, large, 6 in (15 cm) wide. Peel is sometimes pinkish inside, 3/8 in (1 cm) thick. Pulp white with light-brown streaks; pulp sacs large, separating easily from the segment walls. The flesh is juicy, seedy and flavour good. Tree vigorous and produces good quality fruits even under unfavourable conditions. There seem to be several strains of Thong Dee; some produce fruit with a pinkish flesh and some fruit are seedless.
 ENG Thong Dee pomelo
 FRA Pamplemousse Thong Dee 
Photo   Gene Lester

 LAT Citrus maxima ‘Cuban Shaddock’ 'Cuban Shaddock'
'Cuban Shaddock'
As the name suggests, Cuban Shaddock was introduced from Cuba. The parentage is unknown. Because the fruit has characteristics of citron and according to certain authorities also of lemon the classification of the Cuban Shaddock varies.

While the fruit sometimes resembles a big Ponderosa lemon (a citron x lemon hybrid), Gene Lester, who grows this variety in Central California, pointed out to me that the leaves are pomelo, not lemon. 

The fruit is large to very large, globose to obovate and depressed. Seeds are numerous. Colour dark yellow at maturity. Rind is thick and spongy, surface rough, bumpy, and commonly somewhat furrowed. Flesh colour is yellowish-green, coarse-textured and juicy, flavour is acid.

Tree is vigorous, upright, spreading, large, thorny, and productive; foliage dense. Leaves large, oblong-elliptic, and blunt-pointed. Flowers and new growth are not purple-tinted. Tree is sensitive to cold.

 ENG Cuban Shaddock
FRA Pamplemousse cubain
Photo   Gene Lester

 LAT Citrus maxima ‘Chandler’ 'Chandler' pomelo
'Chandler' pomelo
Citrus maxima 'Siamese Sweet' x 'Siamese Pink'

Chandler is one of the most popular pomelos. It is a cross between the Siamese Sweet (white, acidless) and Siamese Pink (acid) pomelos developed at Indio, California and released in 1961. It originated in Riverside, California.

The fruit is an almost perfect globe, medium size to very big with a smooth peel that sometimes has a pinkish tinge. Pulp is pink to medium red, fine-grained, tender and fairly juicy. Segment walls are thin. The flavour is superior to that of either parent; subacid, about 12% sugar. Seedy. Early in season; of good keeping quality.

The colour of peel and flesh strongly varies depending on climate and soil conditions.

 ENG Chandler Pomelo
 FRA Pamplemousse Chandler 
Photo   CCPP

 LAT Citrus maxima ‘Hirado Buntan’ 'Hirado Buntan' pomelo
'Hirado Buntan' pomelo
'Hirado Buntan' pomelo
'Hirado Buntan' ('Hirado') is a chance seedling found in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan; named and introduced into cultivation around 1910.

Fruit is oblate, slightly depressed and large. When mature the peel is bright-yellow, smooth and somewhat glossy. Rind is medium-thick and clings tightly. Pulp is in numerous segments with thin, very tough walls. The flesh is tender, medium-juicy; of good, subacid flavor, faintly bitter. Medium-early in season; the quality stays good if well stored. Tree is of fairly large size, vigorous, unusually cold-tolerant. Leaves are big, thick, and broadly winged. Hirado is the number two commercial variety in Japan.

There seems to be at least two strains or clones of this variety. The original Hirado Buntan of Japan
belongs to the white-fleshed pomelos. Sometimes the colour is described as pale greenish-yellow. There is a new Florida selection of Hirado Buntan with pink flesh. It has quickly become a favourite of many growers.  In his book The Citrus Varieties of the World James Saunt says: " ... in my opinion its eating quality is unsurpassed outside eastern regions of Asia and is the equal of Djeroek Deleema Kopjor (Pomelit) from South Africa."

 ENG Hirado Buntan pomelo
FRA Pamplemousse Hirado Buntan
Photos   Laaz

 LAT Citrus maxima ‘Mato Buntan’ 'Mato Buntan' pomelo
'Mato Buntan' pomelo
Mato Buntan
is said to have been taken from South China to Taiwan about 1700 and much later from there to Japan. Today Mato is high in importance among pomelo varieties in Chinese Taipei and also popular in Japan.

Fruit is medium-large, broadly obovoid to pyriform and seedy. Light-yellow at maturity. Rind medium-thick, pebbled from protuberant oil glands and tightly adherent. Segments are numerous (12-16) and membranes are thin but tough. Flesh is light greenish-yellow, crisp, somewhat tough, lacking in juice. Flavour is sweet, mildly acid and sometimes with a trace of bitterness. Early in maturity.

Tree is dwarfed and small, round-topped and drooping; twigs and shoot growth short and thick. Leaves are large and thick.

 ENG Mato Buntan pomelo
FRA Pamplemousse Mato Buntan
Photos   Gene Lester

 LAT Citrus maxima ‘Pomelit’ 'Pomelit' pomelo
'Pomelit' pomelo
  This information is from the UC-Riverside Citrus Variety Collection website:

"Selected from Thong Dee pomelo seedlings grown from seed collected in USDA germplasm collection by K. Scudder and planted in Orlando in 1947." 

"Pomelit pomelo is similar to the Djeroek Delima Kopjor of Indonesia.  The tree grows vigorously, but is reported to be susceptible to branch breakage under heavy fruit loads.  The fruit is round with a slightly flattened base.  The rind is thin for a pomelo, greenish-yellow to yellow, and smooth.  The pink flesh is tender and juicy with a finer texture than is typical of a pomelo. The fruits are seedy but of good flavour.  Pomelit matures early and holds well on the tree."

 ENG Pomelit pomelo, Djeroek Delima Kopjor, Cameron
FRA Pamplemousse Pomelit
Photo   UCR Citrus Variety Collection

 LAT Citrus maxima ‘Reinking’ 'Reinking' pomelo
'Reinking' pomelo

  Reinking is a selected seedling from a cross of 'Kao Phuang' and the 'Shamouti' orange made at Indio, California, but still a typical pomelo.

Information from the UCR Citrus Variety Collection:

"The tree grows well to a large size with big leaves and drooping branches. The fruit is large and pear-shaped with a slightly flattened bottom and has a slightly pebbled, thick, yellow rind.  The flesh is light yellow, ricey in texture but juicy.  The flavour is good, but the fruits are seedy.  Reinking fruits mature early and hold fairly well on the tree."
 ENG Reinking Pomelo
 FRA Pamplemousse Reinking
Photo   CCPP
Gene Lester

 LAT Citrus  maxima 'Honey' 'Honey' pomelo
Chinese 'Honey' pomelo
Chinese 'Honey' pomelo
Chinese 'Honey' pomelo
Citrus maxima 'Guangxi'

is the name the Chinese growers in Pinghe have given to their local pomelo variety.  In China the word pomelo is pronounced the same way as blessing. Another name they use is Reunion Fruit. The Honey pomelo is said to be seedless and sweet, the flesh semi-transparent. The colour varies from light green to lemon yellow. Honey pomelo is reported to have grown more than 500 years in the Pinghe area. It can weigh between one and four pounds ( - 2 kg).

The total plantation area in Pinghe county, near Zhangzhou City, Fujian province in southeast China is 300 000 hectares (740 000 acres) with a yearly production of 460 000 metric tons. The export volume is 50 000 tons. The main harvest is from mid September to mid October, but the fruit is available from August to February.

The homepage of the Daqe (China) Fruit Trade Co., Ltd. gave the following  information:

Guanxi honey pomelo is a natural healthy food. Its color is golden yellow or light green. It not only tastes sweet, juicy and soft. It can be used in salad, extracted for juice or eaten directly.

100 ml pomelo juice contains 9.2-9.9 g sugar, 0.73-1.01 g acid, 49-52 mg Vitamin C (at most 61.78 mg).
100g pomelo fruit contains 0.6g fat, 0.7g protein and 57 Kcal.

Weight: about 0.9-1.6 kg/piece. Height about 22 cm, diameter about 15-18 cm.
Supply season: from the end of August to next February. It can be stored for 3 months naturally, and up to 6 months refrigerated.

 ENG Honey pomelo
FRA Pamplemousse Honey
Photo   Daqe (China) Fruit Trade Co.

 LAT Citrus  maxima ‘Cocktail’ 'Cocktail' pomelo
'Cocktail' pomelo
Citrus maxima 'Siamese Sweet' x Citrus reticulata 'Frua'

Cocktail is a cross of the Siamese Sweet pomelo and the Frua mandarin made in 1966, developed in Riverside, California. Thinner peeled than most pomelos, the fruit has seeds and is very juicy.

The peel, flesh and juice are mandarin-coloured. The flavour is pleasant and sub-acid. Cocktail matures in early winter and the fruits hold well on the tree. Cocktail trees are large and vigorous. The fruit can vary from the size of an orange to the size of a grapefruit.

This hybrid is discussed on the Grapefruit page as > Cocktail grapefruit.

 ENG Cocktail pomelo
FRA Pamplemousse Cocktail
Photo   UCR Citrus Variety Collection

 LAT Citrus  maxima ‘Valentine’ 'Valentine' pomelo
'Valentine' pomelo

Valentine is a new variety from the University of California, Riverside. It has not been released yet.

As a result of a breeding programme that started in the 1970's in the Riverside Citrus Station, and also produced the Melogold and Oroblanco grapefruits, a most promising new pigmented cultivar was selected. It was a cross of a Dancy mandarin and Ruby blood orange hybrid with a ‘Siamese Sweet’ pomelo.

Valentine fruit are round to somewhat pyriform in shape, usually with a slight neck at the base. Rind colour is medium to dark yellow. Valentine combines large size and low acidity from Siamese Sweet pomelo, a complex floral taste from Dancy mandarin, and juicy red pulp from Ruby blood orange.

 ENG Valentine pomelo
FRA Pamplemousse Valentine
Photo   UCR Citrus Variety Collection

 LAT Citrus maxima 'Ugli' 'Ugli' pomelo
'Ugli' fruit
'Ugli' fruit
 Syn Citrus x ugli
Citrus maxima x C. reticulata x C. aurantium


Originally uglis were thought to be chance hybrids of mandarin and grapefruit. Closer examination of the various strands has shown that many parents are involved. Because of the monoembryony exhibited by the seeds, some botanists are of the opinion that a pomelo is the parent in question rather than grapefruit.

Jamaica has many natural hybrids called Uglis. Some of them are considered crosses of sour orange, mandarin and pomelo some are thought to be crosses of pomelo and mandarin. These are classified as a pomelo variety 'Ugli'.

Some Ugli types are marketed as crosses of mandarin and grapefruit. They are sold as tangelos, the UGLI tangelo most famous among them. However, on the UGLI homepage the marketers of UGLI tangelo tell that the original parent tree of the commercial UGLI tangelo variety was a hybrid of Seville orange, grapefruit and tangerine.

Similar hybrids grow in South Africa and in New Zealand where since 1861 a variety called Poorman's Orange or Poorman Grapefruit has been grown.
 ENG Ugli fruit
FRA Tangelo ugli
Photo   (1) C. Jacquemond / INRA
(2-3)   Gene Lester