Florida Grapefruit

Citrus Paradisi

Reverend Griffith Hughes first described the grapefruit in 1750, when he was searching for the origin of the tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. He called it the forbidden fruit of Barbados. By 1789, that name had traveled to Jamaica, where the fruit was also called the smaller shaddock. In 1814, the 'grapefruit' was described in writings by John Lunan as a variety of the shaddock, and he also called it the forbidden fruit.

Compared to the rest of the citrus family, the grapefruit is fairly new. It's not sure if the grapefruit was a natural mutation of the Pummelo, or if the grapefruit was a man-made hybrid-cross between pummelo/shaddock or pummelo/orange. Either way it most likely first appeared in Jamaica in the 1700s, but no one knows for sure. At Reeds Groves, we grow the Rio Red grapefruit. The Rio is best known for it's robust flavor and juiciness. Sending our navel oranges and grapefruit as gifts has been our mainstay for over 50 years.

Duncan: October - June

If you open a large yellow grapefruit and seeds come tumbling out like clowns from a Volkswagen, you are staring at a Duncan.  

(Officially any citrus fruit with 6 seeds or less is considered seedless, there are no seed-free citrus fruits)

Of course, when that particular grapefruit came to Florida, in about 1840, it wasn't called a Duncan. It was just plain grapefruit, a novelty fruit that had been created a century before by somebody who bred a sweet orange with a strange, enormous, almost monstrous grapefruitlike fruit known as the pomelo.

The father of Florida grapefruit, Odet Philippe, got seeds from the new fruit in the Caribbean, believed to be Jamaica, and planted them in Safety Harbor (near Tampa), in what is known as Philippe Park today. Modesty didn't come easily to Philippe, who called himself a count and told people he had once been Napoleon's surgeon. He named his Pinellas plantation St. Helena, after the island where Napoleon died in exile. He named his sailing vessel The Ney because that's what Napoleon called his.

"He most likely was not a doctor or a count," says Vance Perkey, the assistant park supervisor and amateur historian. "He probably didn't know Napoleon."

However, he did plant those grapefruit seeds, and later sold his crop to soldiers stationed at Tampa's Fort Brooke. As west Florida's population swelled, so did the citrus groves. A few miles west, in Dunedin, L.B. Skinner planted orange and grapefruit seeds furiously. In the 1880s, A.L. Duncan, a lawyer from Wisconsin, traveled to Dunedin to invest in the new citrus industry. He liked the business, stayed, and worked for Skinner.

Duncan, according to some histories, improved fruit production. Trees grown from seed often took a decade to produce. Duncan grafted branches from already mature grapefruit trees to mature sour orange trees. Within a few years, those trees were putting out delicious grapefruit, ready for shipping.

Thus the Duncan was born.

"The groves were everywhere," says Vinnie Luisi, director of the Dunedin Historical Society and Museum. Skinner's famous Milwaukee Grove, the largest, stretched about 10 city blocks. Freezes, progress and the need for housing changed everything. Skinner's grove - every grove in Dunedin - is gone. But Duncan trees remain in back yards here and there.

"Hate to eat anything else," says 78-year-old Norma Lockhart, admiring her old tree on Idlewild Drive. "I don't mind seeds. What's wrong with a few seeds?"

And we agree with Mrs. Lockhart, "what's wrong with a few seeds?" Most seeded citrus fruits have a richer, deeper flavor than there seedless counterparts. The only advantage of seedless is convenience, we'd rather enjoy the richer flavor of our seeded fruits like Temple Tangors. 

Foster Pink: October - June

Very rare, the Foster Pink is from an era gone by. The foster pink is a large thicker skinned pink grapefruit which contains seeds. The Foster pink was discovered growing in a Duncan grapefruit grove as a limb mutation. Cuttings were taken and grafted to the seville, sour-orange roostock and two years later the Foster became a very popular variety for several years.  When the Pink seedless grapefruit was found growing in East Lake Weir Florida, the Foster Pinks became a fruit of the past.

Marsh White: October - June

If the flesh is pale yellow, and a few seeds come out what you have is probably a Marsh (white) Seedless. 

Pink Seedless: October - June

The first Pink Seedless was discovered as a limg sport mutation growing on a white seedless grapefruit tree in East Lake Weir Florida. After discovering the pink, The Bailey family began propagation and offering bud-wood for grafting. The pink seedless was the most poipular grapefruit for many years until the ruby red was discovered growing in Indian River County, Florida.

Rio Red: December - June

The Rio Red grapefruit was developed in Texas from the cross-pollination of a Ruby Red and a Star Ruby grapefruit. The meat is slightly darker than a Ruby Red and slightly lighter than the Star Ruby. The Rio has distinct characteristics with a slightly rounder shape than either the Ruby or the Star. For the grapefruit lover the Rio has a more robust flavor and has an abundance of juice. 

Ruby Red: October - June

Similar to a Pink seedless with a lower acid content and a darker meat.

Star Ruby: October - June

The Star Ruby was developed in Texas by irradiating the seeds of the rootstock seeds before grafting. The Star Ruby, is also known as a River Sweet and a Bahama Red. We ship mainly the Star Ruby in our gift fruit packs. .

Navel Grapefruit: October - May

The Navel Grapefruit is a white seedless grapefruit with a navel on the blossom end, similar to a navel orange. they are flat in shape and very sweet.