Orange Crush

I see a orange
See a orange
Ooh, one or two

Orange Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Welcome to March and the official beginning of spring.  February 28 gave us an unseasonably high maximum of 18℃, and finally put paid to most of the remaining snow from that heavy fall over two weeks ago.  Double digit maximums will be more common from now on, but we can also expect gloomy rainy days and high winds.

What to write about?  Finding topics is often a challenge.  They don’t just pass across your desk at work.  Or do they?

Every month, we get a list of the next month’s school lunches, some nutritional information, and some facts or quasi-facts about some of the food items.  Most of this escapes my notice – I’m usually only interested in when “curry day” is that month – and that page soon finds its way to the recycle bin.  Only, this time, the section on seasonal food caught my attention.

Of the five items, one was something I encountered a couple of years ago but couldn’t photograph, one was part of an idea for a post that floated around inside my head before being shelved in development hell, one has made a single photographic appearance in this blog before, and the other two are orange.

[slight pause]

OK, a cursory look has persuaded me to look at the orange ones: the Kiyomi orange and the dekopon.


Before we begin it helps to remember that, even though the Japanese like to make a big fuss over how “natural” their diet is, most fruit and vegetables we eat are not products of nature, but of cross-breeding and cultivation.  (As an example, think of the humble carrot.  You probably eat the root and throw away the leaves and stalk.  In the case of early carrot varieties, people ate the leaves and threw away the root, which was often woody and not suitable for eating.)

The Kiyomi is a tangor, a cross between an orange and a mandarin (often confused with the closely related tangerine, from which the name comes: tangerine  × orange).

Incidentally, the orange itself is probably descended from the mandarin via natural and artificial hybridization, which makes for interesting reading of the “family tree”!

The Kiyomi demonstrates the desirable traits of its parents, having a mandarin-like flavour and an aroma similar to an orange, in addition to being seedless.

Kiyomi oranges. Photo from Wikipedia.

The Kiyomi holds the distinction of being Japan’s first tangor, created in 1949 at an agricultural research station in Shizuoka.  It takes its name (清見) from the nearby temple Seikenji (清見寺) and lagoon Kiyomigata (清見潟).

Naturally, tangor development didn’t end with the Kiyomi, which is also used as a basis for new varieties.  One of these is the dekapon (actually a brand name), otherwise known as the shiranui/shiranuhi (不知火).

The dekopon™ takes its name from the protrusion on the fruit – “deko” (凸) referring to a bump or lump – and its other parent fruit, the ponkan tangerine.

“So, which parent do you take after?” Here you can see the bump that gave rise to the brand name Dekopon. Photo taken from Wikipedia.

March 1st has been officially declared Dekopon Day, although most people don’t notice.


It’s still the season for catching colds, so I’m grateful when the fruit comes with my lunch.  And I’ll keep an eye out for the occasional tree in gardens.

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