Atlanta Fruitman’s Blog

Ode to thomasville
May 23, 2009, 6:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is another old one of last year that I put up because of some interest in citrus growing in Atlanta.

though my love has cooled just bit, because a few minor problems I have had in recent years with it. It is still a great tree to try out.


I love Thomasvilles!

I know all of you are saying WTF!
So let me back up.
I got some fruit seedlings from the bamboo garden in Savannah, GA. of a hardy citrus called Thomasville Citrangequate. This was from a gorgeous 30+ year old tree with deadly 4 inch spikes surrounding the base. So yes, you can grow citrus in Atlanta. The great thing about the tree is that it is VERY precocious. It started fruiting in its fourth year from seed. Thats good for most trees, but great for citrus. Most dont get going till their tenth.

But why do I love this tree so much. Well, maybe it was partly due to the wait, but also the look, taste and experience of eating this fruit is very special. The fruit is teardrop shaped and can range in size from a medium size fig to a good sized plum. My first crop was flawless orange yellow which gave a nice contrast to very dark green leaves. Because of it Kumquat heritage, there is not bitter pith to the fruit. In fact, the skin is mildly sweet, which contrast nicely to the sharp sourness of the pulp. The pulp tastes like a grapefruit to me. The lack or pith means you eat the fruit WHOLE! There may be a 3-5 seeds in there (which you will easily find and save!) I am the type that eats a good grapefruit without sugar( if I can peel the pith and membrane off). The skin also gives you that little tingle on your tongue and lips that Grapefruit rind give if you ever had candy from the rind. So this gave a joyous experience eating the fruit. Unlike most kumquats the the fruit was juicy and big enough to take few bites from just one.

Now in the off chance you have heard of this fruit, you may have also heard that it has the “Poncirus wang” taste to it (The very hardy Poncirus being another part of its heritage). That may be true for some, but I can say I have never tasted it mine. I tend to believe that there may be a 2 or more races of these Thomasvilles and I happened to get the one that dosent have this taste, or maybe I and my friend just dont taste it. I can say I am a “super taster” so I dont know.

My tree is growing fast, I cant wait till I get enough of these little gems to share with people and to make things with them. I cant say this is my favorite tree in the yard yet. I is usually is what ever I am harvesting at the time, but can say I will really look forward to tasting the fruit and propagating this tree next year!

PS: another surprise for this year have been my Ichang lemon that has leaves that smell like the more tropical Kiefer Lime!

5 Comments so far
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Any further update on Thomasvilles or Ichangs? Have you ever tried any Satsumas? I’m in East Lake & hoping to get something to eat or make a pie of. PS, No doubt the fruitman knows, but for others, there is a native fruit tree/bush/plant sale on Jan. 23

Comment by Magaroni

Both trees are doing well. The last late frost we had last spring seem to caught it off guard as them was coming out green this past spring. There was some leaf drop, but with all the rain we had it sprang back. I just didnt get to many fruits this year. I also notice that red spider mites really love the Thomasville to the point the tree will begin to suffer a bit. I think I will need to do an occasional oil spray to keep them in check.
Both trees are now about 12 feet tall. The Ichang is still in its juvinale stage, but I planted it as a seedling. Citrus takes a long time to mature, so if you get one try to get a grafted one the Thomasville curiously enough matures rapidly, so it really doesent matter in that case).

Satsumas would do well here with yearly light protection. You will need to build a plastic cover with a small amount of heat for it. I think any time it goes below the low 20s, you will get some damage. The good thing is the tree can be kept short with a flying dragon rootstock and a bit of pruning.

If you are really serious about citrus, there are some obscure other varieties, that you may want to to explore, but most all would be for flavoring and juice. They tend to be sour. People are working with them all the time though.

There is yearly meeting called the Southeastern Citrus Conference that happens in November. They have also released a great publication on more obscure citrus for this area. If you want more information, I can get more.

PS: You right. I will be there early to help them out with the event and try to answer any question people may have.

Comment by atlantafruitman

I live in Buford and really like your blog. I’ve planted 2 jujubes myself — Li and Sherwood. Maybe they’ll fruit this year. Cool post you had about the loquats too.

The Thomasville is very interesting. I’m a little north and about 1 degree colder though. What time period are the fruits ripe on the tree? I’ve read they can hang on the tree for a while; is that true?

There’s a promising fruit bush that ripens fruit in April. Do you know much about it? I wonder if it can grow and fruit here.

Comment by Dmitri

Thank you, I wish I had more time. to post more. Work (and my laziness) makes me focus on other things. This nice weather and extended weekend allowed me to do a number of outside projects.

But back to your question..

The Thomasville starts fruiting about August-September and the fruit starts ripening in December. If we don’t get sever frost, they will stay on the tree through January. I will have to pick them by then though.

As far as various elaeagns plants, they will do well here. One can say almost to well. Some are known to be invasive. Bird like the berries and spread the seed. I personal thoughts are that they could be trained by someone who is will to spend some time to learn about the plant and work with them.

I had an Autumn Olive they grew to takeover the yard, so I have to take it down. I still have some cuttings in back yard that I intend to keep small. The fruits is astringent but tasty. A lot of seed and not much fruit, but you do get a large amount of fruit. There is a different form of eleagnus that seems to be a little better behaved called Goumi. I would try this one first. The seed does not germinate at readily (it seems) and it doesn’t grow as large. Two great things about eleagnus is all fix nitrogen in the soil (wonderful for surrounding plant) and the fruit contain the largest amount to Lycopene of any other common fruit.

Comment by atlantafruitman

I live in the North Eastern tip of Georgia. I was interested to find your experiences with citrus in the Atlanta area.
I have two Satsuma mandarin trees and a Citrangequat planted in my yard here in the mountains. I also have started some kumquats from seed and will plant some of them out in the yard in a year or two.

The information one can find on these “cold hardy” citrus on the net is so contradictory, For instance one site will say kumquats are hardy to 10F, another will say, “will be killed by temperatures under 22F”.
I finally decided if I am going to figure out which citrus will survive here, I will just have to experiment myself.

Part of me just wants to prove wrong all those naysayers that say “that won’t grow there!”

Comment by Cris Bessette

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