How Did Navel Oranges Get Their 'Bellybutton'?

navel oranges

Juicy, sweet and seedless, Florida navel oranges are America’s favorite snacking orange. They’re easy to eat thanks to that odd little “bellybutton” that distinguishes navels from other Florida oranges and gives this unique Florida citrus fruit its whimsical name. Poke your thumbs in the “navel” and these oranges pull apart easily to reveal the luscious fruit within, making Florida navel oranges the perfect lunchbox fruit or nutritious workplace snack.

Florida navel oranges are unique in the citrus world, the only Florida citrus fruit to have a “navel.” What looks like a human bellybutton is actually a tiny second orange, a conjoined twin created by a natural mutation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture traces the original mutation to a Selecta orange tree in the garden of a Brazilian monastery where in the early 1800s an orange was discovered with a second, smaller orange growing inside it. The mutation rendered this new orange variety seedless and, therefore, sterile. Navel oranges can only be cultivated by grafting cuttings onto other citrus trees.

Because they can only be produced from grafting and cutting, the selective breeding techniques used to refine the taste and appearance of many fruits and vegetables cannot be applied to Florida navel oranges. The Florida navel orange you ate with your breakfast this morning still has the same genetic code as that first navel orange plucked from a tree branch 200 years ago.

Florida navel oranges start shipping in November so place your order today.

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