This year I was excited to find a Valentine Pummelo on one of my pummelo trees. This was the first that I had had from my own tree and I was quite curious to see how my fruit grown in California's Santa Clara Valley would taste compared to the Valentine Pummelos that I tasted last year from the Central Valley. Valentine is a recent introduction (2009) from the breeding program at UC Riverside and is a cross between a Siamese Sweet Pummelo and a hybrid of a Dancy Mandarin and a Ruby blood orange.
I have been a citrus lover from early childhood when I visited my grandparents in Florida and ate oranges right off of their tree. When I moved to California in 2000, I was quite excited to be living in a citrus state for the first time. I wanted to learn all that I could about citrus and I made the pilgrimage to Riverside, the mecca for California citrus lovers. I toured the Citrus Variety Collection in Riverside which is sort of like a Noah's Ark for citrus in the United States; they have two of each of hundreds of kinds of citrus trees. At the Citrus Variety Collection I tasted so many citrus varieties that I had never even heard of. I tasted citrus more delicious than any that I had previously tasted. Most Americans have never even heard of pummelos. At the Citrus Variety Collection, not only was I able to taste pummelos, but I was also able to taste the very best of them. I was hooked. Pummelos (also spelled pomelos) are originally from Asia where they are very popular; unfortunately, in the United States the allure of pummelos has turned deadly. Propagative material of pummelos smuggled from Asia is believed to have brought the tree-killing citrus greening disease to the United States. This disease has caused billions of dollars in economic damage in Florida and threatens all other citrus states. All of this could have been avoided if the smugglers had been aware of the pummelos already available to them.
In the time since my first visit to the Citrus Variety Collection, I have learned so much more about the pummelo varieties available in California. I now know which ones taste like the ones in Asia, which ones do best in marginal climates, and which ones are most likely to be ripe by the Chinese New Year. By sharing this here, I hope that I can help others to grow the pummelos that they would like to grow in California.