July 2002


Navel Orange Tree – Citrus sinensis 'Washington Navel'


Origin - Brazil





 If the origin of Brazil has you scratching your head, here's the story. Bahia, Brazil is the place where the navel orange developed as a bud mutation. A Mrs. Luther Tibbits planted two of these 'Bahia Navel' trees in around 1869. They later were re-named 'Washington Navel' and since then have traveled throughout the world

 The actual origin of the first sweet orange remains shrouded in history. China, India, Bhutan, Burma and Malaysia are all likely candidates. Birds, bodies of water and humans helped spread citrus seeds into the rest of the known world. Christopher Columbus brought the seeds of oranges and lemons to Haiti and the Caribbean while Ponce de Leon distributed citrus seeds in Florida in 1513. But enough with the history lesson, and let's move on to the plant of the month.

 The 'Washington Navel' works nicely as a container plant. It's evergreen foliage produces fragrant white flowers in the summer and from mid-fall to mid-spring, 3" seedless sweet oranges arrive. Frost injury is a major concern so unless you live in zones 9 or 10, you'll want to keep this tasty tree in its container on a southern-facing windowsill during the cooler months.  Water and fertilize on a regular basis. The 'Washington Navel' is self-pollinating so you only need one plant.

 And for those of you who have birds with "sweet beaks", the 'Washington Navel' is a yummy and healthy treat to have on hand.