A Navel Orange cross-section. A single mutation in 1820 in an orchard of sweet oranges planted at a monastery in Brazil yielded the Navel Orange, also known as the Washington, Riverside, or Bahie navel.
Navel oranges develop a “second orange” at the base of the original fruit, opposite the stem. From the outside, it looks similar to the human navel.
Because the mutation left the fruit seedless and, therefore, sterile, the only means available to cultivate more of this new variety is to graft cuttings onto other varieties of citrus tree. Two such cuttings of the original tree were transplanted to Riverside, California in 1870, which eventually led to worldwide popularity.
Today, navel oranges continue to be produced via cutting and grafting. In a sense, all navel oranges can be considered to be the fruit of that single over-a-century-old tree.
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