Citrus maxima

Citrus maxima

Pomelo (Citrus maxima (Burm.) Merr.) is a fruit tree species belonging to the Rutaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Order Sapindales, Family Rutaceae, Subfamily Aurantioideae, Tribe Citreae and then to the Genus Citrus and to the Specie C. maxima.
The term Citrus grandis (L.) Osbeck is synonymous.

Etymology –
The term Citrus derives from the Latin name of the cedar and lemon, in turn coming from the Greek greek κέδρος kédros cedar and κίτρον kítron lemon. The specific epithet maxima is the superlative of big magnus: maximum, the largest, for the dimensions compared to those of the congeners.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Citrus maxima appears to originate from southern China and Malaysia and forms the citrus species of which the earliest quotation exists (2200 BC). this plant appeared in Europe almost a thousand years ago. Today it is present in citrus areas, botanical gardens and experimental institutes. It is cultivated in southern China and in Southeast Asia.

Description –
The pomelo is a tree with a broad and rounded bearing, which can reach 6 m in height; it has twigs that are at first pubescent and then thorny. The leaves are large, ovate-elliptic, with pointed apex, dark green above and pubescent below. The flowers are white, large, solitary or gathered in small groups. The fruit is large (the largest citrus fruit) of a globular or piriform shape. The peel is thick and the pulp is acidulous, tasty and with many seeds.

Cultivation –
Pomelo, due to its tropical origin, is a citrus that is not very cold, but has perfectly adapted to grow in warm temperate climates, like the milder areas of the Mediterranean basin. It should however be cultivated in areas where there are only slight and ephemeral frosts. Even a few hours with temperatures below -5 ° can seriously damage the plant or even make it die. It is a rather demanding plant also with regard to the maximum temperatures and, unlike other citrus fruits, it requires a long and hot summer to develop and ripen the fruit. For this reason, non-tropical areas with a distinctly oceanic climate, even if they do not have cold winters, are not ideal for the cultivation of the species. This plant prefers a sunny exposure, which guarantees a perfect ripeness of the fruits and a higher sugar content, nevertheless it can also develop in areas with partial shade. Like other citrus trees it needs light or medium-textured soils and water availability in the period between spring and summer.
Pomelo is also a generally self-sterile species, not very inclined to produce fruit through parthenocarpy. Cross-pollination is required for most varieties, nevertheless Citrus maxima can also be pollinated by other species belonging to the Citrus genus. For this reason the seeds obtained by free pollination have a very high genetic variability. Not surprisingly, almost all of today’s citrus fruits are hybrids, which derive from a primordial cross between Pomelo and other species.
For details of the cultivation technique, the following sheet can be consulted.

Uses and Traditions –
The Citrus maxima, according to Maisto, is the oldest citrus cultivated by man and is also considered one of the three species from which all citrus fruits known today derive, together with cedar (Citrus medica) and mandarin (Citrus reticulata).
Pomelo is native to southern Asia and Malaysia where it has been known for more than four thousand years. It was introduced in China around 100 AD, where it has spread and continues to survive, even spontaneously on the banks of rivers, up to the present day. Today it is grown in the southern regions (Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Fujian) and above all in Thailand. Plantations are also found in Taiwan and Japan, in southern India, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea and Tahiti.
Outside Asia, pomelo is grown in California and especially in Israel. It was introduced in Jamaica in the 18th century by the English captain Shaddock, who locally also gave his name to the fruit. The surname of this captain is still remembered also in Liguria, where the pomelo is known as sciaddocco. In Italy it is cultivated above all in Sicily.
From the nutritional point of view, the pomelo has a caloric intake of about 30-40 Kcal per 100 gr. The pomelo fruit has a low protein and lipid content, calories are mainly supplied by simple carbohydrates, especially fructose. It has a high content of vitamin C, around 60 mg, with a good content of vitamin A and traces of B1, B2, B3 and B6.
Among the mineral salts potassium stands out and it also contains folic acid and beta-carotene.
In Asia the pomelo leaves are used as a healing decoction for ulcers and wounds.
The industry derives essential oils from the peel of its fruit.

Preparation Mode –
Pomelo is consumed just like the other citrus fruit. For consumption, the segments should be peeled one by one. If fresh, you can peel and taste in wedges. It can be added to mixed salads with lettuce, rocket, radicchio and dried fruit and can be the base of juices very rich in vitamins and salts and for the preparation of cocktails, alcoholic or not.
In the kitchen can be combined with fish in tasty appetizers and be used in many recipes of Thai cuisine, such as rich pad thai.
Pomelo lends itself to the preparation of fragrant risottos, rice salads (it is excellent with basmati) or other first courses. In addition, the pomelo can be used in the preparation of various desserts: sorbets, granitas, smoothies, but also cakes and creams, spoon desserts and everything that a citrus so equipped in vitamins and salts suggests.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.



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