Sharing Information on Growing Edible Plants
In the Fullerton Arboretum
by: Alfredo Chiri
PUMMELO - Citrus maxima var. ' Chandler' - Rutaceae
Donated by: CRFG/Pacific Tree Farms and planted in 1981 (r.f.-03)
Common names: pomelo, limau obong, limau besar, limau lemon, and pompelmoes.
The pummelo tree, with a somewhat crooked trunk, may reach a height between 16 to 50 feet, with low and irregular branches. The leaves are alternate, leathery, dull green, glossy above, dull and somewhat hairy beneath. The pummelo produces the largest citrus fruit.
The pummelo is native to southern Asia and Malaysia, and it may have been introduced to China around 100 B.C. It is believed that Captain Shaddock brought seeds to the Western world in the late part of the 17th Century. However, many of the trees grown from these seeds gave very poor quality fruits. The Chandler pummelo was developed at the University of California, Riverside. The Chandler is a hybrid of Siamese Sweet' and Siamese Pink. The flowers are fragrant and borne in the leaf axils with yellowish-white petals that are minutely hairy. The fruit is almost round, reaching diameters up to 12 inches. The fruit skin may be greenish-yellow to pale-yellow and is easily removed from the pulp.
The fruit's pulp is divided into 12 to 20 segments. The segments can be very juicy to fairly dry. The flavor varies from sub-acid to acid, and sometimes may have a touch of bitterness.
The fruit normally has a few large yellowish-white seeds. A pummelo that has been cross-pollinated by another pum-melo is apt to have numerous seeds, but if cross-pollinated with any sweet or mandarin orange, will not be seedy.
The pummelo is considered to be tropical or near tropical and does well at low altitudes close to the sea. The tree prefers a soil that has a salty silt or has an organically enriched clay loam soil.
The pummelo can be propagated from seeds. Even though the seeds are mono embryonic, the seedlings will carry the characteristics of the mother tree.
Seeds can be stored up to two months at 41° F with a 56-58% relative humidity.
Air layering or budding onto rootstocks of pummelo is preferred to propagate the best varieties of pummelo. In the United States, using "T", or shield budding, has been found to be a very satisfactory method.
Pummelos may flower 2 to 4 times in a year. The main crop matures in November. Fruits that ripen at other seasons appear to have fewer seeds and superior quality. Fruits are picked when they just begin to turn yellow. The fruit keeps for long periods. After about 3 months the fruit starts to wrinkle and the pulp gets juicer , developing a more appealing flavor than in the fresh fruit.