Navel Orange origin
We know what it looks and taste like, but exactly what are Navel Oranges, and where do Navel Oranges come from?
According to a study done by Palemon Dorsett, Archibald Dixon Shamel, and Wilson Popenoe in 1917, the Orange Navel citrus is a single mutation that happened in the early 1800s on a Selecta Orange tree planted in a monastery in Bahia, Brazil. The mutation on this sweet orange caused it to develop a secondary rudimentary fruit at the base, opposite the stem end, nested within the peel of the primary fruit. The said mutation also caused the fruit to be seedless.
In 1835, twelve cuttings from the original Navel Orange tree were introduced to Florida. In 1870 these cuttings were sent to Riverside, California where they were grafted onto California sweet orange trees resulting in Washington Navel Orange Trees. Further cultivation led to the birth of the dwarf Washington Navel Orange tree.
The mutation that caused the Navel Orange to develop a secondary fruit caused it to be sterile which does not allow the typical breeding method – growing from seed. Now you might be wondering, if Navel Oranges are seedless how are Navel Oranges grown? Standard or dwarf Navel Orange trees are propagated via cutting and grafting techniques so it is safe to say that all Navel Orange trees grown worldwide are clones of the single tree from Bahia, Brazil.