Economic Botany

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 97-107

First online:

Mystery of the forbidden fruit: Historical epilogue on the origin of the grapefruit,Citrus paradisi (Rutaceae)

  • J. Kumamoto
  • , R. W. Scora
  • , H. W. Lawton
  • , W. A. ClerxAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California

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Attempts by the early colonial settlers of Barbados to plant orchards of shaddock (pummelo,Citrus grandis) from seedlings gave rise to the grapefruit(C. paradisi), an apomictic hybrid. Early botanists misidentified the grapefruit as a variety of shaddock, confusing it with a second hybrid growing on Jamaica. The botanist who first named the species, James Macfadyen, is shown here to have described the wrong fruit as a result of such misidentifications. Citrus historians of the 20th century have been unable to confirm the existence of a legendary Captain Shaddock, said to have brought the first seeds of the shaddock to Barbados. The present authors have found a basis for the legend, identifying a Captain Chaddock who traded in the West Indies in the 17th century. In addition, they have rectified the misidentifications of the grapefruit by early botanists that have confused the literature up to the present.