Citrus Fruits

It is unlikely you have ever run across more than the 12 genus Citrus plants listed here in the primary list, but 30 or 40 more species exist beyond these.

Original Citrus Species

1. Lime, Common lime, Acid lime, Mexican lime, West Indian lime, Sour lime, Large lime, Key lime
2. Mandarin, Common mandarin, True mandarin, Mandarin orange, Culate mandarin, Suntara orange
3. Citron
4. Pummelo (USA), Pomelo, Shaddock, Thai grapefruit, West Indian pomelo

Ancient Hybrid Citrus "Species"

5. Lemon (lime X citron)
6. Orange, Sweet Orange (pummelo X mandarin)
7. Sour Orange, Bitter Orange, Seville Orange (pummelo X mandarin)

Modern Hybrid Citrus "Species"

8. Common grapefruit, Western grapefruit (sweet orange X pummelo)
9. Tangelo, Ugli fruit (grapefruit X mandarin)
10. Tangor, Temple Orange (mandarin X sweet orange)
11. Tahiti lime, Seedless lime, Persian lime, Bearss lime (lime X citron (like the lemon) or possibly lime X lemon)
12. Chinese lemon, Medicinal lemon, Canton lemon, Cantonese lemon, Lemandarin, Mandarin lemon, Mandarin lime (mandarin X lime)

Primary Citrus (C.) Species

1. C. aurantiifolia Lime, Common lime, Acid lime, Mexican lime, West Indian lime, Sour lime, Large lime, Key lime

"Originates from tropical Southeast Asia"


'Kai' Oval Thai lime

'Paan' Globe-shaped Thai lime

'lumia' French lime, Pear lemon, Sweet lemon

"Garnish and flavoring for fish and meats, for adding zest to cold drinks, and for making limeade" Note: "Key Lime Pie" is nowadays largely made from the frozen concentrate of the 'Tahiti' lime. [Report from Brazil: Lemon and acid limes are all locally called "Iimao" and they comprise about 6 percent of the total citrus area. Plantings of 'Tahiti' lime are rapidly expanding and probably accountnow for more than 50 percent of all acid fruits. 'Mexican' lime comes next (about 22 percent) but most plantings are growing poorly, affected by tristeza stem pitting. 'Eureka' lemon types locally named 'Siciliano' comprise another 20 percent. The main harvest season for lemons and limes extends from December through May.]

2. C. reticulata Blanco Mandarin, Common mandarin, True mandarin, Mandarin orange, Culate mandarin, Suntara orange

Class I, Mandarin

Class II, Tangerine

Class III, Satsuma (known as Mikan in Japan, where it originates, most canned mandarins are satsumas)

"Probably domesticated in tropical Southeast Asia. By 500 BC it was known in China and by 300 BC it was being grown commercially in central China"


'Tangerine' Tangerine

'Tangerine cv. Clementine' Loose rind mandarin, Mandarin orange, Clementine, Algerian tangerine

'Dancy' Red tangerine, Dancy tangerine

'poonensis' or 'Ponkan' Chinese honey orange

'chachiensis' Chachi mandarin

'deliciosa' Mediterranean mandarin, Tangerine, Italian tangerine

'erythrosa' Red-skinned orange

'salicifolia' Willow-leaved mandarin

'satsuma' Satsuma orange, Emerald Tangerine

'unshiu' Unshiu orange, Unshu mandarin, Mandarin orange, Japanese mandarin, Satsuma mandarin

"Mandarin oranges & tangerines of all kinds are primarily eaten out-of-hand, or the sections are used in fruit salads, etc. Very small types are canned in syrup."

3. C. medica Citron

"Thought to be native to India and then to have spread prehistorically, through cultivation, to the Near East and China. By 300 BC it was known in Greece, and by 20 BC it was being cultivated in Italy."


'Corsican' Corsican citron.

'Diamante' Italian citron.

'Palestine' Palestine citron.

'bajoura' Musk citron, Musk citron tree

'dulcis' Sweet citron, Sweet lemon, Mediterranean sweet limetta

'dulcis Corsican' Corsican sweet citron

'riversii' Bijou lime

'sarcodactylis' Fingered citron

"After partial de-salting and boiling to soften the peel, it is candied in a strong sucrose/glucose solution."

4. C. grandis or C. maxima Pummelo (USA), Pomelo, Shaddock, Thai grapefruit, West Indian pomelo

"Thought to have originated in Sourtheast Asia"


grandis 'pyriformis' Chinese pear-shaped pomelo.

grandis 'shangyuan' Ichang lemon

maxima 'Kao Hawm' Round white-fleshed Thai pomelo

maxima 'Kao Nam Pueung' Pear-shaped Thai pomelo, White-fleshed Thai pomelo

maxima 'Kao Paen' Flattened Thai pomelo.

maxima 'Kao Thong Dee' Pink-fleshed Thai pomelo

"Same uses as orange, but harder to remove the peel"

Ancient Hybrid Citrus "Species"

5. C. limon Lemon

A hybrid between citron and lime

"Probably came from China"


'Eureka' Eureka lemon, Italian lemon, American lemon

'variegata' Variegated lemon, Pink-fleshed lemon

"Slices of lemon are served as a garnish on fish or meat or with iced or hot tea. Lemon juice is used for lemonade, pies, other desserts, cooking and pharmaceutical products."

6. C. sinensis Orange, Sweet Orange

A hybrid between pummelo and mandarin (different parents and later than sour orange)

"There are clear records of Citrus sinensis in China only by the 1100's and in India by the 1300's."


'Jaffa' Palestine orange

'Valencia' Valencia orange

'Washington Navel' or 'brasiliensis' Bahia orange, Brazilian navel, Navel orange

(Blood Group) cv. 'Maltese Blood' Maltese blood orange

(Blood Group) cv. 'Sanguine' Blood orange

(Navel Group) cv. 'Lane's Late' Lane's late navel orange, Australian navel orange

(Navel Group) cv. 'Leng' Leng navel orange, Early Australian navel orange, Thin-skinned navel

(Navel Group) cv. 'Washington' Washington Navel, Orange "Washington Navel", Seedless sweet orange, Loose-skinned sweet orange

"Oranges are primarily eaten out-of-hand or as orange juice, or the sections are used in fruit salads, etc."

7. C. aurantium Sour Orange, Bitter Orange, Seville Orange

A hybrid between pummelo and mandarin

"Originated in China and seems to have entered the written record there by 300 BC. It is recorded from Japan by about 100 AD. By about 100 BC, Sour Orange seeds appear to have reached Rome."


'bergamia' Bergamot orange, Bergamot, Lemon bergamot. Grown in southern Italy for a perfume made from the rind.

'bigardia' Bigarade orange

'buxifolia' Box-leaved orange

'crispifolium' Curled leaf orange

'myrtifolia' Chinotto orange, Myrtle-leaved orange, Myrtle-leaf orange (USA), Ornamental orange

'Rough Seville' Seville orange, Spanish orange

'Smooth Seville' Smooth-skinned seville orange

"The greatest use of sour oranges as food is in the form of marmalade and for this purpose they have no equal."

Primary Citrus (C.) Hybrids

8. C. X paradisi Macfad Common grapefruit, Western grapefruit

A hybrid between the sweet orange and the pummelo

"thought to have originated on the island of Barbados in about 1750"


(Pink-fleshed Group) cv. 'Foster' Pink-fleshed grapefruit

(Pink-fleshed Group) cv. 'Red Blush' Red-fleshed grapefruit

(Pink-fleshed Group) cv. 'Ruby' Reddish-rind grapefruit, Seedless pink-fleshed grapefruit, "Ruby" grapefruit

(Pink-fleshed Group) cv. 'Thompson' Pink-fleshed grapefruit, "Thompson" grapefruit

(White-fleshed Group) cv. 'Duncan' White-fleshed grapefruit, "Duncan" grapefruit.

(White-fleshed Group) cv. 'Marsh' Seedless white-fleshed grapefruit, "Marsh" grapefruit.

(White-fleshed Group) cv. 'Ray Ruby' "Ray Ruby" grapefruit, Pomelo "Ray Ruby".

(White-fleshed Group) cv. 'Wheeny' "Wheeny" grapefruit.

"Grapefruit juice, or as a breakfast fruit, chilled, cut in half, the sections loosened from the peel and each other by a special curved knife."

9. C. paradisi X C. reticulata, C. X tangelo Tangelo

A hybrid between the grapefruit and the mandarin orange.


'Ugli' Ugli fruit, a chance hybrid

10. C. reticulata X C. sinensis, C. X nobilis Tangor

A hybrid between the mandarin and the sweet orange


'Temple' Temple Orange

11. C. latifolia Tahiti lime, Seedless lime, Persian lime, Bearss lime

"Presumed to be a hybrid of the Mexican lime and citron, or, less likely, the lemon"

"Same purposes as the Mexican lime"

12. C. X limonia Chinese lemon, Medicinal lemon, Canton lemon, Cantonese lemon, Lemandarin, Mandarin lemon, Mandarin lime

A hybrid between the mandarin orange and the lime (very cold-hardy)


'gaoganensis' Gaogan lemon

'hainanensis' Hainan Island lemon

'khatta' Khatta orange

'otaitensis' Otaheite orange

'rangpur' Rangpur lime

Related, but not Citrus genus or crossed outside it:


Kumquat, 6 species. Not Citrus genus any more, but in Citrus family.

"Eaten raw, whole. Easily preserved whole in sugar syrup"

C. X Citrofortunella mitis (formerly C. madurensis)

A hybrid between the mandarin and the kumquat

Calamondin, Golden lime, China orange, Kalamansi lime, Panama orange, Musklime, Philippine lime, Chinese orange

"Calamondin halves or quarters may be served with iced tea, seafood and meats, to be squeezed for the acid juice."

Poncirus trifoliata

Trifoliate Orange

C. X Citroncirus Webberi)

A hybrid of trifoliate orange X sweet orange hybrid


"ade, pie, jams and marmalade"

Fortunella sp. X citrange


"Eating out-of-hand, for ade and marmalade"

C. X Citrofortunella, C. X floridana

A hybrid between the kumquat and the lime


There are two subgenera of Citrus: one also called Citrus, and the other called Papeda. All commercial citrus comes from the first subgenus. The fruits are the familiar sections of numerous juicy capsules with papery coverings, arranged radially around the axis of the fruit, with a fleshy covering and a waxy exterior. All Citrus leaves are obovate with a point at the tip (spearpoint-shaped). Most Papeda plants have bitter, inedible fruits; they can be recognized by leaves which grow along the stems and interconnect with each other. It is difficult to tell which Citrus are wild and which are cultivated; most 'wild' species are probably in the Papeda group.

Any attempt to state the number of actual Citrus species would be pointless. Due to its long history of being cultivated, the several species of the Citrus subgenus are all cross-fertile, and produce fertile offspring. Indeed, Citrus plants can crossbreed with members of Fortunella (kumquat). We have no idea how many hybrids were produced in the past; even worse, it is in the interest of commercial growers to have their specialized cultivars recognized as distinct species. Furthermore, naitonal pride appears to figure into the mix.

Not surprisingly, the classification of various Citrus plants into species is highly controversial. In 1875, Joseph D. Hooker recognized just four Citrus species. Walter T. Swingle, in 1943, identified 15 species. in 1954, Dr. Takesi Tanaka, using looser criteria to distinguish one species from another, recognized 145!

The genus Citrus L. belongs to the subtribe Citrinae, tribe Citreae, subfamily Aurantioideae, family Rutaceae, order Sapindales, superorder Rosidae and subclass Dicotyledoneae. This genus may be further divided into two subgenera (Citrus and Papeda), based on leaf, flower and fruit properties (Speigel-Roy and Goldschmidt 1996). Oranges and its familiar relatives are members of the subgenus Citrus. Within this taxon, there is no sterility barrier (Speigel-Roy and Goldschmidt 1996). The citron (C. medica L.), sour orange (C. aurantium L.), pummelo (C. maxima Merril, formerly C. grandis Osbeck), lemon (C. limon Burm.f.), mandarin or tangerine (C. reticulata Blanco), common lime (C. aurantifolia Christm.) and grapefruit (C. maxima var. racemosa, formerly C. paradisi Macf.) are crops in this subgenus. Some of the aforementioned species are of hybrid origin and there is confusion regarding the identities and number of species within the genus Citrus. Different systems propose from sixteen to 162 Citrus species (Swingle and Reece 1967, Tanaka 1977, in Soost and Roose 1996). Hodgson (1961, in Cameron and Soost 1976) devised a compromise taxonomic classification with thirty-six species. Recent laboratory analyses have concluded that C. sinensis is not in fact a basic biological species and it has been proposed that the sweet orange be labeled as a "convenience species" (Scora 1988, in Soost and Roose 1996).

It is with difficulty that biogeographers have attempted to define the centers of origin and ancestors of citrus fruits. The multitude of natural hybrids and cultivated varieties, including spontaneous mutants, obscure the history of Citrus. The lack of sufficient descriptions and specimens, in addition to the destruction of the original habitats, contribute to the puzzlement as well (Spiegel-Roy and Goldschmidt 1996). In any case, citrus fruit trees originated in the region encompassing Southeast Asia and India (Zohary and Hapf 1993; Janick et. al. 1981; Speigel-Roy and Goldschmidt 1996). Citrus would have arose as a bitter fruit plant, possibly in what is now the Malay Archipelago over twenty million years ago (McPhee 1967). The modern fruit species probably evolved in China, where there is greater diversity in Citrus varieties and parasites than anywhere in the world (McPhee 1967). The hybridization of pummelos and mandarins, in environments such as mixed Chinese gardens, resulted in the creation of both C. sinensis and C. aurantium (Speigel-Roy and Goldschmidt 1996). However, the location of the origin of the sweet orange is controversial. China, India, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia are all candidates (The Orange History [1999]). Domestication of citrus species presumably began at several sites and by 4000 BCE (before the Common Era), the culture of lemons, limes and oranges was occurring in the Indus Valley (Solley 1997a).

Other citrus species (only species with English names shown, more purely asian species and varieties exist)

C. depressa

Flat lemon, Hirami lemon, Thin-skinned flat lemon


'semi-inflata' Rough-skinned flat lemon

C. glaberrima

Silk-skinned orange

C. hassaku

Hassaku orange

C. hystrix

Kaffir lime (Aust.), Mauritius papeda.

C. ichangensis

Ichang papeda, Ichang lime

C. indica

Indian wild orange

C. jambhiri

Rough lemon, Jambhiri orange, Citronelle

C. kotokan

Tiger head pomelo

C. latipes

Khasi papeda

C. limetta

Sweet limetta, Mediterranean sweet lemon, Sweet lemon, Sweet lime

C. limettioides

Indian sweet lime, Brazil sweet lime "enjoyed out-of-hand"

C. limonimedica


C. limonum

Small Egyptian lime

C. longilimon

Assam lemon, Long-fruited lemon, Oblong lemon

C. macrophylla

Macrophylla rootstock

C. macroptera

Melanesian papeda

C. nana

Dwarf citron tree

C. natsudaidai

Japanese summer orange, Japanese bitter mandarin

C. nobilis

Mandarin orange, Tangerine orange, King mandarin, Cambodian mandarin, Indo-Chinese mandarin


'microcarpa' Adhering rind mandarin

'nobilia' King Orange, King mandarin, King of Siam mandarin

C. oto

Yellow orange.

C. paratangerina

Ladu mandarin.

C. pyriformis

Ponderosa lemon

C. reshni

Spice tangerine, Cleopatra mandarin, Loose-skinned baby mandarin

C. sunki

Sunki mandarin, Sour mandarin, Sunkat

C. tardiva

Japanese summer orange, Japanese sweet orange

C. volkameriana

Volkamer lemon


Citrus Species

Sweet Oranges: The Biogeography of Citrus sinensis

Sorting Citrus names

Fruits of Warm Climates

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Steve Wagar <>
Last update: 4/2/03