So you made it through the holidays (Happy New Year, by the way!) and now you’re wondering what it was all about. Why did cousin Barry wear a kilt and rugby socks to your grandmother’s holiday dinner, and why did everyone feel uncomfortable when Aunt Clarisse spilled sherry on your father and called him a “meat-loafer” before giving him a kit of bath salts and essential oils? Are these people even related to you? Now that things have calmed down a bit, you can start to contemplate the expansive meanings of your family tree. Where is your family from? How did they get to wherever you are? What’s the story behind the story?
If you think your family is varied and far-flung, then imagine what being part of the citrus family is like. It would make the best of us stand up and wildly exclaim: “Oh my pamplemousse!”
The citrus we know and love today is the result of years of crossbreeding. And like many family trees, the true lineage can’t really be traced back exactly. Even the common orange is most likely the descendant of unrecognizable pomelos and mandarins from long ago.
The Navel Orange
Our modern navel orange is said to have originated in the early 1800s in Bahia, Brazil, from a mutation of an orange tree in a monastery. Other accounts say that the modern navel is descended from a tree that’s closer to a Portuguese variety of orange grown around the same time. Regardless, the navel orange we enjoy today is unique in that it actually grows a second fruit opposite its stem as a twin. It remains underdeveloped, but from the outside, it looks like a human navel—hence the name.
Strangely enough the navel orange (with its twin) is seedless, and therefore reproduction of trees relies on grafting cuttings from other trees onto new citrus stock. (You may remember from past newsletters that bananas are also replanted from cuttings as well—it’s fascinating to me that these two staple fruits are basically sterile if not for human interaction.)
So this week, when biting into that juicy navel orange during your break, you may hear yourself exclaim with satisfaction at the rejuvenating taste of citrus: “Now who’s your daddy, orange?” Remember that we may not really know, and that’s OK.
Remember to visit our mix page find out your fruit mix this week.
Enjoy & Be Fruitful!
—Chris Mittelstaedt, firstname.lastname@example.org