Pomelo or Pummelo, Citrus maxima, may be referred to as either or even its alternate vernacular name ‘Shaddock.’ So what is a pummelo or pomelo? Let’s find out about growing a pummelo tree.
If you have ever heard of pomelo fruit and actually seen it, you would guess it looks very much like a grapefruit, and rightly so, as it is an ancestor of that citrus. The fruit of a growing pomelo tree is the largest citrus fruit in the world, from 4-12 inches (10-30 cm.) across, with a sweet/tart interior covered by a greenish-yellow or pale yellow easily removable peel, much like other citrus. The skin is fairly thick and, therefore, the fruit keeps for long periods of time. Blemishes on the peel are not indicative of the fruit within.
Pomelo trees are native to the Far East, specifically Malaysia, Thailand and southern China and can be found growing wild on the river banks in the Fiji and Friendly Islands. It is considered a fruit of good luck in China where most households keep some pomelo fruit during the New Year to symbolize bounty throughout the year.
Additional pummelo tree growing information tells us that the first specimen was brought to the New World in the late 17th century, with cultivation beginning in Barbados around 1696. In 1902, the first plants came to the U.S. via Thailand, but the fruit was inferior and, as such, even today, is mostly grown as a curiosity or specimen plant in many landscapes. Pomelos make good screens or espaliers, and with their dense leaf canopy make great shade trees.
The pummelo tree itself has a compact, low canopy somewhat rounded or umbrella in shape, with evergreen foliage. The leaves are ovate, glossy and medium green, while spring flowers are showy, aromatic and white. In fact, the flowers are so fragrant the scent is used in some perfumes. The resulting fruit is borne off the tree in winter, spring or summer, depending upon the climate.
Pomelo trees can be grown from seed, but bring your patience as the tree will likely not fruit for at least eight years. They can be air layered or grafted onto existing citrus rootstock as well. As with all citrus trees, pummelo trees enjoy full sun especially hot, rainy climates.
Additional pomelo tree care requires not only full sun exposure, but also moist soil. Growing pomelo trees are not picky regarding their soil and will thrive equally in clay, loam or sand with a highly acidic and highly alkaline pH. Regardless of the soil type, provide the pomelo with good drainage and water at least once a week.
Keep the area around your pomelo free from debris, grass, and weeds to retard disease and fungus. Fertilize with a citrus fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Pomelo trees grow 24 inches (61 cm.) per season and can live from 50-150 years and reach a height of 25 feet (7.6 m.). They are Verticillium resistant, but susceptible to the following pests and disease:
Despite the long list, most homegrown pomelos do not have many pest issues and won’t need a pesticide spray schedule.
The Grapefruit tree, sometimes called pomelo, is a citrus plant with fleshy and tasty fruits.
Name – Citrus paradisi
Family – Rutaceae (Rue family)
Height – 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – well-drained
Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – November to March
Caring for it from planting to pruning, largely contributes to the quality of the grapefruit harvest.
Many of the outstanding cultivars from Thailand have been introduced to other countries, commonly with the terms вЂњSiameseвЂќ and вЂњBangkokвЂќ attached to their names. Some common cultivars are the вЂTongdeeвЂ™ (brilliant gold pomelo), вЂKao Nam PuengвЂ™ (white honey pomelo) (Tongdee, n.d.), вЂKhao PaenвЂ™, вЂKhao PhuangвЂ™, вЂKhao YaiвЂ™, вЂKhao TaengkwaвЂ™, and вЂTha KhoiвЂ™ (Chomchalow, et al., n.d.).
In the Philippines, the common varieties are Amoy Mantan, Magallanes, Panacan, Mintal, Aroman, Sunwui Luk, and Siamese Selections (Loquias, 2006). In China, more than 200 cultivars have been recorded including local and introduced. Of these, about 10 are commercially grown including Shatianyou, Guanximiyou, Wendanyou and LongвЂ™anyou (Ganjun, 2009).
Pummelos Citrus maxima are the largest of the citrus fruit. It's related to the grapefruit and it comes from south-east Asia, but it's relatively unknown in Australia. In Asian countries, pummelos hold a special place. They're used as altar fruit for ancestor worship, and at weddings, they're considered to be good luck. Lovers of pummelos say the best of these fruit have a superior flavour to grapefruit.
Grace Manson and her husband, Nils, have been growing pummelos on their property south of Brisbane for 30 years. They have 500 trees. "We created them ourselves by planting two seeds. One type of fruit we call 'Tim', which in Chinese means sweet and it's a sweeter, drier variety. We have another called 'Tang', which is much juicier but slightly tangy," Grace said.
A pummelo is similar to grapefruit, but it's much bigger and has a thicker rind. "You do not halve a pummelo as you would a grapefruit because they have a tough membrane. Eat them by opening a segment at a time. These fruits are also drier and should not be used as a juicing fruit," Grace said.
Pummelos like a tropical or subtropical climate. Then just treat them in much the same way as any other citrus tree. But you might have to wait a few years to get some good fruit.
Grace said it took about seven years before the trees, which had been planted from seed, started to fruit. "But once we tasted it we thought, not a bad variety," she said.
Pummelos also prefer good, deep, rich soil. Grace said to counteract the clay soil on their property they mounded up the soil before planting. "That gives better drainage because pummelos don't like wet feet, create a little micro-climate - even as far down south as South Australia - and keep in mind that the fruit might vary in flavour," she said.
The flavour of the fruit often varies from tree to tree. This is because they're mono-embryonic and that means the seedlings can vary significantly from their parent. The best way to get the flavour you like is to graft the wood from your favourite tree on to a root stock.
When the fruit is ready to harvest it changes colour and the bottom of the pummelo is totally smooth. "That's a sign that the fruit is close to being ready. Then just twist it and it should come off the tree very easily," Grace said.
Melogold is one of the pummelo hybrids that resulted from the UC Riverside breeding experiments. It is a cross between Siamese Sweet Pummelo and a white grapefruit. Pummelo lovers who dislike grapefruit should not dismiss Melogold because of its grapefruit parent Melogold is much more like a pummelo than a grapefruit in both size and flavor. Melogold is mild, sweet, and juicy. In the taste test Melogold scored between “very good” and “excellent, outstanding”.
Melogold is early to mature which may make it a good choice for those who would like to have a pummelo that is ripe by the Chinese New Year. For those who live in cooler climates, Melogold holds well on the tree — meaning that the fruit will stay on the tree and get sweeter and sweeter unlike the many pummelo varieties whose fruit fall on the ground before they are ripe.
One of my Chinese tasters was quite enthusiastic about Melogold and suggested that a fortune could be made selling it in China. I would not be surprised if Melogolds from California are already being sold in China. An internet search quickly revealed that California Melogolds are sold in Korea and Japan. Here we can see that they were being shipped to Korea by January 6 this year, well before the Chinese New Year.
The Pummelo is a familiar fruit in Asian cultures, valued for its diverse flavor and large size. Pummelos range in size, shape, color and taste guaranteeing that there is the perfect Pummelo out there for everyone. Chander's Red is a hybrid of 'Siamese Sweet' and 'Siamese Pink from Southern California. The red, fleshy slices are sweet and juicy with a flavor similar to grapefruit, but not so tart. The flowers of the Pummelo tree are very fragrant and are an added bonus!
Utilize citrus trees in the landscape just like any ornamental tree. Give enough space that light is available from all sides, away from the shade of larger trees or buildings. A great plant for large patio containers where the fragrant flowers can be enjoyed and the fruit easily picked. Can also be grown indoors if space and ample sunlight can be provided.
Apply a complete fertilizer formulated for fruit bearing varieties.
Water 2 - 3 times per week until established.
Organic-rich, well-drained soil.
Best to remove fruit before it develops for the first year so that the tree can get well established. Apply fertilizer formulated for citrus trees in late winter into early spring. Plant where tree is accessible from all sides so that fruit can be easily harvested as it matures. Prepare fruit by peeling away the outer skin, slicing, or squeezing for juice.
Plant in spring or early fall to give plants the best start.
Choose a location that will allow roots to spread and branches to grow freely. Space plants far enough from building foundations, walls, and decks so that the growing foliage won't crowd the structure. Consider whether tall trees or shrubs will block windows or interfere with the roof or power lines.
To prepare the planting area dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. After removing the soil, mix it with some compost or peat moss. This enriches the soil and loosens the existing dirt so that new roots can spread easily.
To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot. The container can also be removed by carefully cutting it down the side.
Set the plant in the hole. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap fabric this must now be removed along with any string or wire securing the burlap. If roots are tightly packed gently rake them apart with your fingers.
Return the soil to the planting area packing it firmly around the root ball. Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant, where the roots begin to flare out from the main stem.
Water the plant well then add a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around the planting area. Keep the mulch at least 4” (10cm) away from the trunk of the plant as this can keep the bark too moist and cause it to decay.
Depending on rainfall, new plants need to be watered weekly through the first growing season. A slow, one-hour trickle of water should do the job. During hot spells thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.
To check for soil moisture use your finger or a hand trowel to dig a small hole and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.
Monitor new plants through the first two years to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. After that they should be sturdy enough to survive on their own.
Established trees should be fertilized every 2-3 years. Feed in early spring when plants start growing.
Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product designed for trees and shrubs, or go with a nutritionally balanced, general-purpose formula such as 10-10-10.
Always follow the fertilizer package directions for application rates and scheduling. Over-fertilizing plants or applying at the wrong time during the growing season can result in plant injury.
Pruning may be needed to remove dead branches, encourage bushier growth, promote more flowers, or maintain a specific size or shape.
Dead branches should be removed close to the trunk, flush with the bark. When pruning to control a plant's size or shape, cuts should be made just above a leaf bud and at a slight angle. This bud will be where the new growth sprouts.
Many shrubs can be regularly sheared to keep them shaped as a hedge, edging or formal foundation planting.
Always use sharp, clean tools when pruning. There are many tools available depending on the job. Hand shears, pruners, and loppers are ideal for most shrubs. Pole pruners and tree saws are better for large, mature shrubs or trees. If a tree is so large that it can't be safely pruned with a pole pruner, it is best to call in a professional tree service.