Connect with us

Thai Life

Thai oranges and lemons won’t leave you sour

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Thai oranges and lemons won’t leave you sour | The Thaiger
  • follow us in feedly

PHUKET: “Oranges and lemons, say the bells of Saint Clement’s”, so goes the opening couplet of the children’s nursery rhyme about London’s church bells dating from 1744. But though the nursery rhyme remains unchanged by time, the real oranges and lemons we knew as kids are not the same as the varieties we now encounter in Phuket’s fresh markets.

While there are more than 100 kinds of dessert orange, the ones grown in Thailand are generally small, green in color and with vivid orange flesh. In fact if the skin has begun to go yellow, the fruit may already be past its best. Generally sweet, succulent and with thin, easily peeled rind, they nonetheless contain lots of pips (seeds) and should be eaten soon after they have been picked or purchased. The juice is scrumptious.

Citruses are not only familiar to just about every man, woman and child, but grow in the wild in China, India and most of Southeast Asia. There are about 20 species: grapefruit, mandarins, cumquats and tangerines, as well as oranges, lemons and limes. But interestingly, recent studies have shown that all the major citrus fruits have evolved in cultivation from just three wild parent species, namely the citron (C. medica), the mandarin (C. reticulata) and the pomelo or shaddock (C. maxima). So commercial oranges, lemons and grapefruit are actually hybrids derived from these wild stocks.

Oranges are conveniently classified into sweet and sour categories. The Seville orange, named after the city in Spain where it is widely cultivated, is the only well-known member of the sour group. Rarely seen here, it grows on a tough, spiny tree up to 10 meters tall. Because of its neat crown and attractive fruit, it is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental shrub in Europe. Mainly produced for the marmalade trade, Sevilles have a thick, aromatic peel and bitter-tasting, inedible fruit.

Most of the dessert varieties have some connection with the mandarin and form an attractive rounded tree with glossy dark green leaves and fragrant white blossoms. They tend to do best in a climate that has a cool spell, though the smaller varieties grown here don’t seem to mind the all-year-round tropical temperatures.

Among hybrids, Ruby is a popular blood orange, whereas Valencia (available here only as juice) is an abundant cropper, relatively seedless and one that retains its fruit well on the tree. It would be worth a try to plant on the island, though it is likely to do better in Chiang Mai.

Another group, known as navel oranges, have a rudimentary second orange at the apex, forming the so-called navel. The seedless navel Washington, is considered one of the best of all eating oranges.

More in evidence here is the pomelo or shaddock – indeed it originates from Southeast Asia. The huge, dome-shaped pale yellow fruits of C. maxima (they resemble a large, warty grapefruit) have a yellowish-pink flesh with an aromatic tang and easily separated segments. Possessing extremely thick skin, they are usually sold already split up into sections, wrapped in cellophane.

Well worth considering cultivating in Phuket if you have the space, the tree has shiny leaves with a downy underside, and characteristic scented white flowers. If, however, you have a small garden, the tangerine – sometimes called the mandarin or clementine – is your best bet, since it not only revels in hot conditions but develops into a neat, small tree that can even be pruned to form a symmetrical shape.

All citruses need plenty of water in the growing season, applications of nitrogenous fertilizer, and shelter and protection from the wind. But they will reward the patient horticulturalist with fruit that is not only luscious, but packed with vitamins and other goodies.

For instance, a cup of fresh orange pieces will provide more than 160 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement in addition to fiber, potassium and folate. Like all citrus fruit, it also contains powerful antioxidants called flavonoids which may help to reduce cholesterol and compounds that can lessen the risk of a stroke.

The grapefruit and the shaddock (pomelo) confer further benefits. Rich in vitamin A as well as C , the grapefruit contains a carotenoid called lycopene which has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Wonder fruit. Grow them in your Phuket garden, eat them freshly picked from the tree, and you will derive all the benefits.

Catch Patrick’s next gardening story about the humble onion in the January 31 issue of the

If you have a question or a garden that you would like featured, email: Further information about this gardening series and Patrick’s other work can be accessed here.

— Patrick Campbell

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Things that have changed in Thailand in the Covid Era | Top 10 | VIDEO

The Thaiger



Things that have changed in Thailand in the Covid Era | Top 10 | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Top 10 things that have changed in Thailand during the Covid-era Things have changed. In some cases they’ve changed a lot and may never be the same again. Many people are suffering as a result of the impacts of lockdowns and the border closures. Some people are being forced to re-invent their lives as a result. Here are some of the main things we believe have changed since January this year. Face Masks The now every-present face mask is now with us for a long time. In Asia, it was never uncommon to see people wearing face masks, for traffic, […]

Continue Reading


Riding and renting a motorbike in Thailand | Top 10 tips | VIDEO

The Thaiger



Riding and renting a motorbike in Thailand | Top 10 tips | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Motorbikes and scooters are the most popular mode of transport in Thailand, and most of south east Asia. In many cases, they’re the ‘engine’ for the local economies. Most of them just go and go and go, they’re astonishingly reliable. Getting around on a motorbike is easy enough and will get you to your destination faster, whilst the cars and trucks are plodding along in the traffic. But riding a motorbike in Thailand can also be very dangerous. If you stick to the common sense basics – ride within the speed limits, wear a bike helmet, obey the traffic rules […]

Continue Reading


Khao San Road to reopen for Halloween

Caitlin Ashworth



Khao San Road to reopen for Halloween | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: The Club Khaosan

The party is coming back to Khao San Road this Halloween. The once booming backpacker district went through a renovation during the lockdown period and now the Bangkok governor says they’re ready to reopen the street. Khao San Road has long been a district frequented by foreign backpackers. It’s known for it’s grungy and lively bar scene as well as its eccentric mix of street food, like scorpion on a stick. During the lockdown, 48.4 million baht was put into the streets for major renovations like leveling out the road and footpaths, adding some gutters and designating space for emergency […]

Continue Reading
Follow The Thaiger by email: