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Orchard Trees of Rancho El Cerrito: Oranges

Articles: Orchard Trees of Rancho El Cerrito: Oranges

‘Carter’ navel orange. Author’s photographs

The primary orchard at Rancho Los Cerritos, in Long Beach, California, was designed by Ralph D Cornell in 1931, as part of an estate plan commissioned by the Bixby family (see Pacific Horticulture, July ’08). Cornell included three different kinds of oranges: Mediterranean sweet, ‘Carter’ navel, and ‘Valencia’. This diverse planting ensured that the owners enjoyed fresh oranges nearly year round. The following thumbnail histories of those three oranges are based on research undertaken in preparation for the orchard’s restoration in 2001.

The Oranges

Originating in Asia, oranges (Citrus sinensis) are thought to be the result of crossing tangerines (C. reticulata) and pummelos (C. maxima). This resulted in two major categories of oranges: sweet and sour. The Moors introduced the sour orange to Europe early in the fifteenth century. The sweet orange that was cultivated for centuries by the Chinese was introduced in the mid-fifteenth century.

Spanish missionaries planted oranges in Florida, Brazil, and Central America. From there, citrus was introduced to Mexi...

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