Since the theme of the week seems to be genetic mutations and shoddy internet research, I thought I’d let you know what I learned yesterday about navel oranges.
Recently, I started wondering why sometimes when I eat an orange, there’s a little baby orange fetus underneath the skin at the top of the orange. After some research, I learned that this is not a random occurrence among all varieties of oranges, but the defining feature of the navel orange. That little orange baby creates a navel-like bulge, giving the navel orange it’s name. Here’s what wikipedia has to say:
A single mutation in an orchard of sweet oranges planted at a monastery in 1820 in Brazil led to the navel orange (aka Washington, Riverside or Bahia navel). A single cutting of the original was then transplanted to California in 1870, creating a new market worldwide. The mutation caused adiploid, or twin, fruit, with a smaller orange embedded in the outer fruit near the stem. From the outside the smaller, undeveloped, twin leaves a human navel-like formation at the top of the fruit. Navel oranges are almost always seedless, and tend to be larger than the sweet orange.
Need to know more about navel oranges? Have 4 minutes and 26 seconds to spare? Listen to this debatably interesting story about all things navel orange at NPR.org.