Citrus Fruit Citrus X paradisi

First described in 1750 by Griffith Hughes the grapefruit was defined by the botanist James MacFayden as a natural sport of the pummelo (or pomelo). It was later discovered to be a cross between the pummelo and the orange. The name is believed to originate with the fruit's habit of growing in clusters of up to 20, reminscent of the grape.

The tree reaches a height of around 20 feet, and bears small white flowers. The fruit normally has a bright yellow peel with a pale flesh, and ranges in size from four to six inches in diameter, although some varieties are more oval in shape. The tree is highly versatile, comfortable in a wide range of soils, from acidic sandy clays to the alkaline soils of California. In recent times, sweeter varieties have been introduced, in addition to pink-fleshed fruit favoured for brightening up the breakfast table or salad bowl.

The fruit was originally considered inedible because of its relative bitterness, and many trees were cut down before the public started to develop a taste for them in the 1900s. Florida and California remain the most important growing areas in the States, although the fruit is also exported from the West Indies, South America and Israel, and has become an important commercial crop.

Grapefruit keeps well at about 18ยบ C for a week or more, but prefers the lower temperatures in the fridge. To slow moisture loss, fruits for marketing are washed and waxed as soon as possible after harvest.

In addition to its use as a whole fruit, the juice has become very popular for straight drinking as well as in commercial blends and alcoholic drinks.

The peel yields an oil used in aromatherapy, and is used to relieve stress, migraine, headache and PMS.

Caution: You should not apply this oil topically before exposure to bright sunlight.

Grapefruit juice also has effects on several prescription medicines - see that write-up for details. Thanks, Gritchka for pointing that out!

Aromatherapy is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you have a health condition, consult your physician. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, consult your doctor before using any aromatherapy products. Do not take essential oils internally. Keep essential oils and all aromatherapy products out of the reach of children. -

Thanks to anthropod for pointing me to pomelo.