The following are some of the many citrus types that grow in San Diego County.
• Cara Cara pink navel orange is harvested January to May.
• Lane Late Navel is harvested February to September.
• Valencia (seedless) bears fruit April to October, sometimes sooner, sometimes later.
• Moro blood orange (red-flesh) are harvested February to May.
• Washington Navels are harvested January to May and very popular with great taste.
• Eureka, the standard lemon of markets, bears throughout the year.
• Lisbon ripens mostly in fall and is fairly cold harder than Eureka.
• Improved Meyer Lemon is thin-skinned with a tangy aroma, is very juicy, makes the best lemon chiffon pie and don’t forget the kids’ 5-cent lemonade stands.
• Marsh Seedless, the West’s main commercial type, is picked in November and requires lots of heat for good flavor and quality.
• Melogold and Oroblanco are hybrids between grapefruit and pummelo and are somewhat sweeter.
• Ruby-Star Ruby-Rio-Red has red-blushed skin and pinkish flesh and produces good semi-sweet juice.
• Chandler pummelo is probably one parent of the grapefruit. The fruit is huge and thick-skinned with firm pulp; one just peels and eats the large segments.
• Bearss lime is the best for most California gardens; it succeeds where oranges are successful as well.
• Mexican or Key lime is smaller in size than Bearss and is used for Key lime pie.
• All you need is one lime tree in the garden, for they produce abundantly.
• Limequat is a hybrid with Mexican lime and kumquat. Usually ripens in late fall and winter, producing a fresh lime flavor in regions too frosty for true limes. Whole fruits are edible and sliced in sections for a garnish or eaten off the tree.
Mandarin oranges (tangerines)
• Clementine, or Algerian tangerine, remains on the tree juicy and sweet for months. Grows to about 12 feet in height and a good small tree for backyards.
• Dancy fruits are smaller and seedier than other mandarins and very flavorful.
• Kara, a hybrid of King and Owari, ripens from early May to June.
• Kinnow is a cross with King and Willow and ripens from January to May.
• Owari Satsuma is a source of imported canned mandarins. Sweet delicate flavor: nearly seedless, medium to large fruit with loose skin and the earliest mandarin to ripen.
• Some tangerines ripen every other year.
• Edible rind is sweet and the flesh is good. Fruit is candied, preserved whole or used in marmalade or jelly.
• Varieties to look for are Meiwa and Nagami.
• Kumquat makes an excellent container plant and stays fairly small in pots. When too big, just plant it out into the garden.
• Minneola is a cross of Dancy tangerine and grapefruit. Its flavor is similar to tangerine with fewer seeds.
• Orlando is a medium-size fruit ripening from February to March and looks like a flattened orange but oh, so good to the taste.
They are many more hybrids and oddities in the citrus world that are available at nurseries in north San Diego County.
Look for citrus trees that have many varieties budded onto one tree. These are called cocktail, salad citrus and citrus medley. They ripen at different times of the year all on one tree.
If you want to grow a real conversation citrus fruit, seek out a citron called Buddha’s Hand.
If you would like to read a fabulous little book called “Oranges” by John McPhee, you’re in for a juicy and historic experience with citrus stories from around the world; it’s delicious.
Roger Boddaert is a landscape designer/Certified Arborist. He can be contacted at (760) 728-4297 for consultations and designs.