Kiwi Gardener

THE ORANGE ‘PINEAPPLE’

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Betty Gemmell, Wairoa

1970–2022

‘What’s in a name?’ you may ask. On a recent trip to Wairoa, I spent a morning at Betty and John gemmell’s home, where they have resided for over 50 years and enjoyed the fruits of a 14-foot-high (425cm) orange tree with the unusual variety name ‘Pineapple’.

According to mixon Fruit Farms in the US,

Citrus sinensis ‘Pineapple’ (syn. C. × aurantium ‘Pineapple’) is the oldest cultivated variety of orange in Florida, enjoyed for its excessivel­y sweet juice and smooth flesh.

We learnt that the variety was first propagated by mr PP Bishop in Citra, Florida, in the late 1870s. Originally called ‘Hickory’, its ‘delicate fragrance’ saw it renamed ‘Pineapple’ a decade later. (It has also been called ‘Pineapple-156’, ‘Ridge Pineapple’ and ‘Ridge Seedling’.)

Betty recalls how she and John bought the young orange tree from their dear friend, Bernard Teague, owner of the local garden centre at the time. Bernard had grafted the trees himself and was keen to see them planted in the region.

Betty says, “We were thrilled to plant it knowing Bernard had grafted it himself and that the fruit would be large, slightly orb-shaped, with exceptiona­lly juicy fruit. Our tree is still heavy with fruit every spring and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. It’s so rewarding to see our children, grandchild­ren and great grandchild­ren still eating the oranges directly off the tree.”

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