My wife and I moved into a house that has two orange trees(not sure what kind). This year the trees had lots of fruit. They looked like they were ripe however when we pick them they taste sour. The fruit has been on the tree for about 2.5 months in the ripened state. Can anyone tell me how we can get the fruit to a sweet state? Thanks!!!
First of all, as you do not know what the variety of citrus your trees are, it is very difficult to predict how sweet or how acid your particular tree's fruit are suposed to be at maturity. Secondly, the quality of the fruit produced by a citrus tree, has a lot to do with the age of the tree. As the tree ages, the fruit it produces become more desirable, particularly in the case of mandrains. - Millet
thanks for answering. i am sure that my citrus tree is probably at least 20 years old and the fruit is the size of mandarins (maybe a bit bigger) but have many seeds. The tree produced so many fruit i am wondering if the tree needed to be thinned out. beautiful fruit that tasted sour--what a tease. i'll try to post a picture of the tree and fruit.
Look at this link and tell me if the color and shape
of the fruit is close to your tree? There was a clone
years ago that a little richer in color but had more
seeds than is shown here. The fruit can make a good
juice if we add sugar to the mixture. For fresh eating
they can be rather tart. The Rangpur Lime is considered
to be a sour Mandarin.
Hi Mr. Shep, I grow Rangpur Lime for use as a rootstock only. Your correct, the taste of Rangpur Lime is extremely sour or probably better yet described as bitter, plus there is enough seeds per fruit to start a grove. It would take a large quantity of sugar to make an acceptable juice. However, if enough sugar was added it might make an acceptable syrup.- Millet
Hi Millet, actually, we can have these sugar up for us
and when they are ripe-ripe they are not nearly as bitter
if they are in the ground. The clone that was used a lot
for the dwarf and to some extent the semi-dwarf trees
can be extremely bitter when grown in a container. They
are not nearly as bad once in the ground in areas that get
some cold chill if we can keep the fruit on the tree that
Yes, they might not make it as a juice no matter how
much sugar we add to the mixture for container grown
For the heck of it I'll include these links just in case.
I would suggest that you take a cutting and some fruit to your nearest University Botanist for correct identification, if these are the ornamental Citrus, they will never be pleasant for eating unless made into marmelade ....Citrus aurantium perhaps?
Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you all. I have been out of town for work purposes. Anyways I took some pictures of the leaves and fruit. Take a look and see if the Rangbur Lime looks like our tree. To me Mr. Shep's pictures look very similar to mine however, our fruit doesn't seem to have the nipple at the base of the fruit. Thanks for all of your feedback!
Xanti, from the looks of your picture it could possibly be a Rangpur Lime. Rangpur Limes do not taste much like a lime but they somewhat have a lime like smell when cut open. Rangpur limes have a lot of seeds, anywhere from 5 to 12 per fruit. A couple things you can check to help determine if it is a Rangpur. 1) cut an older fruit open and see if the the fruit's axis (center) is hollow, and a even better clue look at the INNER seed coat. If it is a Rangpur Lime it should be a light purplish brown in color. The thorns on a Rangpur Lime tree are quite short, 1/4 to 3/8 inch. Why anyone would plant TWO Rangpur trees in their yard is a mystery to me. - Millet
Millet, thanks for the info. I will check the fruit like you suggested. I am with you on the whole 2 tree thing. When we first moved into our house we were so excited that we had two citrus trees. We thought we had an orange and lemon. Not the case!!!!! They are trimmed nice and look really cool but that is about it, kind of disappointed. Anyways, thanks again for the info.
One thing that has been overlooked is that we can change
the acid to sugar balance of Citrus by using a particular
rootstock. As an example a Florida Honey grafted onto
trifoliate rootstock will generally have a higher degree
of sugar when grown here than the same Florida Honey
grafted onto citrangequat rootstock will have for us. In
some growing areas, even when grown further South of
this state, the change in the sugar content levels from the
rootstocks may not be as noticeable is it can be here. We
get some cooler temperatures that can enhance the added
production of sugar that some areas just do not get.
Mandarins years ago used to be classed as being tart,
sweet-tart and sweet. Even the old standard Dancy
Tangerine, when ripe, is not considered to be sweet
but is a sweet-tart in that acid to complex sugar ratio
has a balance to it in that the ripe fruit is neither too
sweet nor is it not too tart either. Owari Satsuma can
also be a sweet-tart Mandarin. For canning the Owari
has added sugar in the syrup to give the fruit a sweeter
than normal taste. It is the flavor of the Owari, not the
sweetness that makes it a wonderful and universally
highly regarded Mandarin. The Murcott and the Florida
Honey are known to develop a higher degree of sugar
but we do not get the consistency of the fruit that we
can get from other Mandarins in that we can have a
quicker breakdown of the pulp, meaning for a store
and in the home the fruit will have a shorter shelf life.
Even still both forms of Honey do get sweet but do
not have the overall flavor of an Owari Satsuma.
For the Rangpur Lime, depending on which clone we
have and where it came from, as the first Rangpur Lime
that I became aware of came out of Japan, could develop
some sweetness to it when grown here. Although it is
classed as being a sour Mandarin. Still, for cooking,
for processing and for confections a sour fruit with
some added sugar can be a good fruit to work with.
I've had candied Rangpur Lime that was actually pretty
darn good to eat just in a candy form. I've had candied
Rangpur Lime wedges like we can see in some candy
shops like the candied Orange wedges and slices that
were rather good as a sweet-tart candy. It all comes
down to what we want from the fruit and in some cases
make amends to do other things with. There is a clone
of the Rangpur Lime that has an oil in the rind that can
overwhelm the fruit in that we will taste a bitter fruit no
matter what we do. Then there are other clones that do
not have the pungent oil buildup and those are the fruit
that we can do something with.
Another thing, not all of our juice Oranges are sweet or
good for fresh eating either. They can be rather sour
even when ripe but it is the flavor from them that we
want when we go to blend the various juices together
to make a fresh or processed juice. There is a reason
why Florida has the best consistent Orange Juice as it
is a result of their methods of blending the various juice
Oranges that they grow but some of those Oranges are
grown just for the juice, not for fresh eating or for
confections but only for the juice. We can do the same
thing with the juice of a Ranpur Lime in that it makes a
nice juice or an ade blend along with other Citrus juices.
From a landscapers standpoint the Rangpur Lime makes
a nicely shaped, no muss, no fuss ornamental plant for
us. I know of people that planted these just for the
aesthetics of the tree in a landscape. They did not care
about the fruit but wanted a nicely shaped, easy to care
for ornamental tree instead. Some of them later learned
of ways to deal with the fruit which made an added bonus
to them for their having good taste for their selection of
what they wanted from their landscape tree. It used to be
a "big thing" to plant Citrus as ornamentals in the San
Francisco and nearby Bay areas as well. People just
liked the shapes and the aesthetics of Citrus trees in their
yards and I, for one, do not blame them one bit for doing
I was about to post a question very similiar and thought to put it in your thread.
We have a 125 year old orange tree (in a huge wine vat!) that was started from a shoot of an orange tree in Rome that was started by our founder, St. Dominic almost 800 years ago! Truly! This tree is still at S. Sabina in Rome and there are many trees started from seeds from oranges from this tree around the world.
We received our tree 2 years ago from a monastery that had to close. We live in NJ so we even built a small greenhouse for the winter. It's very happy and full of small fruit. HOWEVER, they have been GREEN for months and are about the size of a golf ball.
I know that the previous monastery got tangerine size fruit from this tree and made marmalade and that the oranges DID get ORANGE!
Any advice as to what to do? It is now starting a new crop of tiny, tiny oranges while the "elders" are still hanging there GREEN!
Thanks for your help! I'll post this separately in case that is the better thing to do.
May I suggest trying the old fashioned candy fruit for your unripened citrus...simply wash and slice them, bring copious amounts of sugar to water and simmer for 2 to 5 hours creating a sweet syrupy candied orange treat...even if they are green. My Mother-in-law does the exact treatment for underripe figs... can or refridgerate as needed...
Post re-try #2 Dear Sister Mary Catherine, one possible reason that your tangerines (mandarins) do not turn orange, could be due to an elevated temperature and humidity of your greenhouse. It is very common for the fruits of citrus trees grown in the tropics to produce fruit that never turn orange, even when mature. The green pigmentation (chlorophyll) in the peel is retained due to the higher temperature and humidity. This of course, makes it difficult to determine which fruit are mature, and which are imature. Even in southern Florida, many fruits will re-green or only partially turn to orange. These oranges then must be artificially treated in order to obtain good coloration, before the fruit can be sold to the public. Also it is important to understand that many varieties of citrus can take up to eight months from fruit set, to maturity. Perhaps not enough time has passed for your tree to mature the fruit. The majority of the growth in the size of citrus fruits occurs towards the end of the maturing process. I would suggest that you pick a few fruit and taste them to see if indeed, they are ripe. Lastly, the quality of taste, especially in tangerines (mandarins), has a lot to do with the age of the tree. Your tree, probaby a rooted cutting, is comparetively young so the acid/sugar blend could still be unbalanced towards the acid side. Sister, if I can be of any further assistace, please do not hesitate to ask. I will send you a private message, through this board, concerning the possibility of obtaining some seed from this tree. Regards, - Millet
Last edited by Millet; April 5th, 2006 at 10:15 AM.
If your citrus tree was grown from a seed, it may be what is called a bitter orange. Trees that are purchased are grafted trees that use the root stock and the branches are grafted in from a hybrid stock. If your tree is a few years old, you may try to graft in some branches from a good productive tree. Perhaps a neighbor would donate a few branches. I have tries to do this myself by grafting in varieties of citrus, but was not sucessful. It takes some skill to do it correctly.
You may be trying to pick them too soon. I have a few different varieties of oranges, grapefriut and lemon and some of the oranges are ripe in sept/oct whale i have one that goes all winter and finally ripens in march. Actually, thats a good thing because there is so much fruit that we have to give most away.
You may want to just pick one every couple of weeks and see if they get any sweeter. Thats the only way i know of to determing picking time.
I find it VERY INTERESTING, that this post has come back to life, after 3 years since it was originally posted. In this particular tree's case, we are not talking about nether a young tree, a seedling tree, nor a tree that should ever ever ever EVER be grafted upon. This particular tree is a famous citrus tree in its own right, and came from one of the most famous citrus trees ever grown in the entire history of the man kind. Sister Mary Catherine's tree is approximately 125 years old, and more sensationally it is a rooted cutting taken from a 809 year old citrus tree that is still alive today, and still growing, at Catholic convent of Saint Sabina's in Rome, built in the 5th century. It is believed that the Saint Sabina tree was started in the year 1200 when Saint Dominic planted a seed. It is certainly the oldest citrus tree in existence, and the oldest citrus tree ever grown, by many many hundreds of years. Certainly a miraculous tree by all accounts. You can read about this tree on pages 45-46 in the book "The Citrus Industry" volume 1. For those new to citrus, and have not heard of the book, it is among the most respected books of the citrus industry, and was originally published by the University Of California Press. I was VERY FORTUNATE to receive some seed from Sister and now have a tree growing in my greenhouse that would be a 1st generation tree from Saint Dominic's planting. VERY FORTUNATE INDEED. - Millet (1,273-)
Last edited by Millet; July 23rd, 2009 at 07:09 PM.
By the way, the variety of the citrus tree that Sister Mary Catherine is charged to care for, is a Sour Orange, which was the common citrus variety in Italy at the time of Saint Dominic. The Sour Orange is the citrus variety that Marmalade is commonly made from- Millet (1,273-)
Last edited by Millet; July 23rd, 2009 at 07:01 PM.