In November 2003, I had a couple of hours to visit this old collection of citrus plants. This is the 'agrumeto' of the 'Real Orto Botanico Napoli' - in Naples, Italy not in Naples, Florida!
Unfortunately, the weather was poor so photography was difficult. Also, several interesting specimens were unlabelled, or only had a species name rather than the specific cultivar. However, here are a few highlights.
The extensive gardens cover a considerable area not far from the city centre. Information about different areas of the gardens appears on attractively illustrated ceramic tiled notices.
The view looking down on the citrus grove shows how it is densely planted with many old trees. Quite different from the ordered rows of a commercial orchard.
Although unlabelled, I believe the striped fruit, and occasionally variegated leaves, are from the old variety Citrus aurantium 'Virgatum', possibly a "graft chimera" between a lemon and a bitter orange.
I had been particularly looking forward to seeing the Australian natives 'Round Lime' and 'Finger Lime', which I knew grew in the gardens. However, the finger lime tree looked in poor condition with a great number of dead twigs, although I did find this one beautifully-coloured, fallen fruit.
The tree labelled Microcitrus australis (Round Lime), was very tall (perhaps 7m, or 20 feet), with nearly all growth at the top. To me the distant leaves looked like those of the finger lime, not the round lime. Mature leaves on a tree of this size should have been much larger; immature leaves much narrower. The fruit shape would have confirmed the identification, but there was none to be found!
Citrus australasica 'sanguinea', the red fleshed finger lime. Fruit about 5cms long.
The next two trees were old and tall. In both cases the large fruits were way above head height, so pictures are more or less the underside view!
Labeled as Citrus grandis (pummelo) this bumpy fruit was about 15cms in diameter. But the leaves showed no sign of the wide petiole that is usually a characteristic of the pummelo.
An expert on historic citrus varieties suggests it is actually C. limonimedica 'Maxima' also known as Lemon 'Cardinale' .
The label suggests this is a grapefuit hybrid. The very large fruit could have been about 15cms to 20cms across. I have been unable to find any other references to this hybrid.
There were several citrus trees separated from the main grove, mostly uphill to the west. Here are two pictures from one of these trees.
page created 23 November 2003