This article is about the fruit. For other uses, see Grapefruit (disambiguation).
Pink grapefruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Citrus
Species: C. × paradisi
Binomial name
Citrus × paradisi

The grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) is a subtropical citrus tree known for its sour to semi-sweet fruit. Grapefruit is a hybrid originating in Barbados as an accidental cross between two introduced species, sweet orange (C. sinesis) and pomelo or shaddock (C. maxima), both of which were introduced from Asia in the seventeenth century.[1] When found, it was named the “forbidden fruit”;[2] and it has also been misidentified with the pomelo.[3]

Originally called the Forbidden Fruit, the grapefruit's more prosaic current name alludes to clusters of the fruit on the tree, which often appear similar to grapes.[4]


Grapefruit growing in the grape-like clusters from which their name derives.

The evergreen grapefruit trees usually grow to around 5–6 meters (16–20 ft) tall, although they can reach 13–15 m (43–49 ft). The leaves are glossy dark green, long (up to 15 centimeters (5.9 in)) and thin. It produces 5 cm (2 in) white four-petaled flowers. The fruit is yellow-orange skinned and generally an oblate spheroid in shape; it ranges in diameter from 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in). The flesh is segmented and acidic, varying in color depending on the cultivars, which include white, pink and red pulps of varying sweetness (generally, the redder varieties are sweeter). The 1929 US Ruby Red (of the Redblush variety) has the first grapefruit patent.[5]


One ancestor of the grapefruit was the Jamaican sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), itself an ancient hybrid of Asian origin; the other was the Indonesian pomelo (C. maxima). One story of the fruit's origins is that a certain "Captain Shaddock"[6] brought pomelo seeds to Jamaica and bred the first fruit.[7] However, it probably originated as a naturally occurring hybrid between the two plants some time after they had been introduced.[1]

The Trunk, Leaves, and Flowers of this Tree, very much resemble
those of the Orange-tree.
The Fruit, when ripe, is something longer and larger than the largest
Orange; and exceeds, in the Delicacy of its Taste, the Fruit of every
Tree in this or any of our neighbouring Islands.
It hath somewhat of the Taste of a Shaddock; but far exceeds that, as
well as the best Orange, in its delicious Taste and Flavour.

—Description from Hughes' 1750 Natural History of Barbados.

The hybrid fruit, then called "the forbidden fruit", was first documented in 1750 by a Welshman, Rev. Griffith Hughes, who described specimens from Barbados in The Natural History of Barbados.[8][9] Currently, the grapefruit is said to be one of the "Seven Wonders of Barbados".[10]

The grapefruit was brought to Florida by Count Odet Philippe in 1823 in what is now known as Safety Harbor. Further crosses have produced the tangelo (1905), the Minneola tangelo (1931), and the oroblanco (1984).

The grapefruit was known as the shaddock or shattuck until the 19th century.[11] Its current name alludes to clusters of the fruit on the tree, which often appear similar to grapes.[12] Botanically, it was not distinguished from the pomelo until the 1830s, when it was given the name Citrus paradisi. Its true origins were not determined until the 1940s. This led to the official name being altered to Citrus × paradisi, the "×" identifying its hybrid origin.[13][14]

Kimball Chase Atwood

An early pioneer in the American citrus industry was Kimball Chase Atwood, a wealthy entrepreneur who founded the Atwood Grapefruit Co. in the late 19th century. The Atwood Grove became the largest grapefruit grove in the world, with a yearly output of 80,000 boxes of fruit.[15] It was there that pink grapefruit was first discovered in 1906.[16]

Ruby Red

The 1929 Ruby Red patent was associated with real commercial success, which came after the discovery of a red grapefruit growing on a pink variety. The Red grapefruit, starting with the Ruby Red, has even become a symbolic fruit of Texas, where white “inferior” grapefruit were eliminated and only red grapefruit were grown for decades. Using radiation to trigger mutations, new varieties were developed to retain the red tones which typically faded to pink.[17] The Rio Red variety is the current (2007) Texas grapefruit with registered trademarks Rio Star and Ruby-Sweet, also sometimes promoted as "Reddest" and "Texas Choice". The Rio Red is a mutation bred variety which was developed by treatment of bud sticks with thermal neutrons. Its improved attributes of mutant variety are fruit and juice color, deeper red, and wide adaptation.[18]

Star Ruby

The Star Ruby is the darkest of the red varieties. Developed from an irradiated Hudson grapefruit, it has found limited commercial success because it is more difficult to grow than other varieties.[19][20]


The varieties of Texas and Florida grapefruit include: Oro Blanco, Ruby Red, Pink, Thompson, White Marsh, Flame, Star Ruby, Duncan, and Pummelo HB.[21]


Grapefruit and pomelo output in 2005

China is the top producer of grapefruit and pomelo followed by The United States and Mexico.

Top eleven grapefruit (inc. pomelos) producers — 2012
Country Production (metric tons) Footnote
 People's Republic of China 3,800,000 F
 United States 1,046,890
 Mexico 415,471
 Thailand 328,000 F
 South Africa 304,559
 Israel 246,618
 Turkey 243,267
 Argentina 200,000 F
 India 200,000 F
 Sudan 196,000
 Ghana 192,000
 World 8,040,038 A
No symbol = official figure, P = official figure, F = FAO estimate, * = Unofficial/Semi-official/mirror data, C = Calculated figure A = Aggregate (may include official, semi-official or estimates);

Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division

Colors and flavors

Grapefruit mercaptan

Grapefruit comes in many varieties. One way to differentiate between varieties is by the flesh color of fruit they produce.[22] The most popular varieties cultivated today are red, white, and pink hues, referring to the internal pulp color of the fruit. The family of flavors range from highly acidic and somewhat sour to sweet and tart.[22] Grapefruit mercaptan, a sulfur-containing terpene, is one of the substances which has a strong influence on the taste and odor of grapefruit, compared with other citrus fruits.[23]

Drug interactions

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice have been found to interact with numerous drugs in many cases resulting in adverse effects.[24]

This happens in two ways. One is that grapefruit can block an enzyme which metabolizes medication.[25] If the drug is not metabolized, then the level of the drug in the blood can become too high leading to an adverse effect.[25] The other effect is that grapefruit can block the absorption of drugs in the intestine.[25] If the drug is not absorbed, then not enough of it is in the blood to have a therapeutic effect.[25]

One whole grapefruit, or a glass of 200 mL (6.8 US fl oz) of grapefruit juice can cause drug overdose toxicity.[26] Drugs which are incompatible with grapefruit are typically labeled on the container or package insert.[25] People taking drugs can ask their health care provider or pharmacist questions about grapefruit / drug interactions.[25]

Nutritional properties

Grapefruit, raw, white, all areas
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 138 kJ (33 kcal)
8.41 g
Sugars 7.31 g
Dietary fiber 1.1 g
0.10 g
0.69 g
Thiamine (B1)

0.037 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.020 mg

Niacin (B3)

0.269 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0.283 mg

Vitamin B6

0.043 mg

Folate (B9)

10 μg


7.7 mg

Vitamin C

33.3 mg

Vitamin E

0.13 mg


12 mg


0.06 mg


9 mg


0.013 mg


8 mg


148 mg


0.07 mg

Other constituents
Water 90.48 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Grapefruit is a rich source (>20% of the Daily Value, DV in a 100 gram serving) of vitamin C,[22][27] contains the fiber pectin,[28] and the pink and red hues contain the beneficial antioxidant lycopene.[22][29] Studies have shown grapefruit helps lower cholesterol,[22][30] and there is evidence that the seeds have antioxidant properties.[31] Grapefruit forms a core part of the "grapefruit diet", the theory being that the fruit's low glycemic index is able to help the body's metabolism burn fat.[32]

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) has been shown to have strong antimicrobial properties against fungi.[33] It is also believed to have antimicrobial properties for bacteria; however, there are no known studies that demonstrate its efficacy. Additionally, although GSE is promoted as a highly effective plant-based preservative by some natural personal care manufacturers, studies have shown that the apparent antimicrobial activity associated with GSE preparations is merely due to contamination with synthetic preservatives.[34][35][36][37][38]

There is a popular myth that grapefruits contain high amounts of spermidine, a simple polyamine that may be related to aging. The myth probably relies on the confusion between spermidine and putrescine. While citrus fruits show high amounts of putrescine, they contain very little spermidine.[39]

Grapefruit sweets

In Costa Rica, especially in Atenas, grapefruit are often cooked to remove their sourness, rendering them as sweets; they are also stuffed with dulce de leche, resulting in a dessert called toronja rellena (stuffed grapefruit). In Haiti, grapefruit is used primarily for its juice (jus de Chadèque), but is also used to make jam (confiture de Chadèque).

Other uses

Grapefruit has also been investigated in cancer medicine pharmacodynamics. Its inhibiting effect on the metabolism of some drugs may allow smaller doses to be used, which can help to reduce costs.[40]

Grapefruit relatives

Main article: Citrus taxonomy

Grapefruit is a pummelo backcross, a hybrid of pummelo × sweet orange, with sweet orange itself being a pummelo × mandarin hybrid.

The grapefruit is itself a parent to many hybrids:

The grapefruit's cousins include:

See also


  1. 1 2 Carrington, Sean; Fraser, HenryC (2003). "Grapefruit". A~Z of Barbados Heritage. Macmillan Caribbean. pp. 90–91. ISBN 0-333-92068-6. One of many citrus species grown in Barbados. This fruit is believed to have originated in Barbados as a natural cross between sweet orange (C. sinesis) and Shaddock (C. grandis), both of which were introduced from Asia in the seventeenth century. The grapefruit first appeared as an illustration entitled 'The Forbidden Fruit Tree' in the Rev. Griffith Hughes' The Natural History of Barbados (1750). This accords with the scientific name which literally is 'citrus of paradise'. The fruit was obviously fairly common around that time since George Washington in his Barbados Journal (1750-1751) mentions 'the Forbidden Fruit' as one of the local fruit available at a dinner party he attended. The plant was later described in the 1837 Flora of Jamaica as the Barbados Grapefruit. The historical arguments and experimental work on leaf enzymes and oils from possible parents all support a Barbadian origin for the fruit.
  2. Dowling, Curtis F.; Morton, Julia Frances (1987). Fruits of warm climates. Miami, FL: J. F. Morton. ISBN 0-9610184-1-0. OCLC 16947184.
  3. Li, Xiaomeng; Xie R.; Lu Z.; Zhou Z. (July 2010). "The Origin of Cultivated Citrus as Inferred from Internal Transcribed Spacer and Chloroplast DNA Sequence and Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism Fingerprints". Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 135 (4): 341. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  4. "How did the grapefruit get its name?" Library of Congress. Science Reference Service, Everyday Mysteries. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  5. Texas grapefruit history, TexaSweet. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  6. A possible identification with an actual Captain Chaddock who traded in the West Indies in the 17th century, was suggested by J. Kumamoto, R. W. Scora, H. W. Lawton and W. A. Clerx, "Mystery of the forbidden fruit: Historical epilogue on the origin of the grapefruit, Citrus paradisi (Rutaceae)", Economic Botany, 41.1 (January, 1987:97-107).
  7. Grapefruit: a fruit with a bit of a complex in Art Culinaire (Winter, 2007)
  8. World Wide Words: Questions & Answers; Grapefruit. Abstract
  9. Admin. (2010). "Welchman Hall Gully, Barbados". Barbados National Trust. Retrieved 11 July 2010. The Development of the Gully - The Gully was once part of a plantation owned by a Welshman called General William Asygell Williams over 200 years ago. Hence the name "Welchman Hall" gully. It was this man who first developed the gully with exotic trees and an orchard. Interestingly, the grapefruit is originally from Barbados and is rumoured to have started in Welchman Hall Gully.
  10. Barbados Seven Wonders: The Grapefruit Tree. Abstract
  11. "Mystery of the forbidden fruit: Historical epilogue on the origin of the grapefruit,Citrus paradisi (Rutaceae)". Economic Botany. 41.
  12. "How did the grapefruit get its name?" Library of Congress. Science Reference Service, Everyday Mysteries. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  13. Texas Citrus: Puzzling Beginnings. Article
  14. University of Florida: IFAS Extension; The Grapefruit. "Fact Sheet" (PDF).
  15. "Manatee County a big part of citrus history". 2004-08-16. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  16. "Article". Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  17. William J Broad (28 August 2007). "Useful Mutants, Bred With Radiation". New York Times.
  18. "Mutation Enhanced Technology". IAEA. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  19. Sauls, Julian W. (1998). "Home fruit Production-Grapefruit". Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  20. Citrus Variety Collection. "Star Ruby grapefruit". Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  21. "Go Florida Grapefruit". Go Florida Grapefruit. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  22. 1 2 3 4 5 The World's Healthiest Foods; Grapefruit. The George Mateljan Foundation. Article
  23. A. Buettner; P. Schieberle (1999). "Characterization of the Most Odor-Active Volatiles in Fresh, Hand-Squeezed Juice of Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macfayden)". J. Agric. Food Chem. 47 (12): 5189–5193. doi:10.1021/jf990071l. PMID 10606593.
  24. Bailey DG, Dresser G, Arnold JM (March 2013). "Grapefruit-medication interactions: forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences?". CMAJ. 185 (4): 309–16. doi:10.1503/cmaj.120951. PMC 3589309Freely accessible. PMID 23184849.
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Mitchell, Steve (19 February 2016). "Why Grapefruit and Medication Can Be a Dangerous Mix". Consumer Reports. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  26. Bailey, D. G.; Dresser, G.; Arnold, J. M. O. (2012). "Grapefruit-medication interactions: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences?". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 185 (4): 309–316. doi:10.1503/cmaj.120951. ISSN 0820-3946.
  27. Fellers PJ, Nikdel S, Lee HS (August 1990). "Nutrient content and nutrition labeling of several processed Florida citrus juice products". J Am Diet Assoc. 90 (8): 1079–84. PMID 2380455.
  28. Cerda JJ, Robbins FL, Burgin CW, Baumgartner TG, Rice RW (September 1988). "The effects of grapefruit pectin on patients at risk for coronary heart disease without altering diet or lifestyle". Clin Cardiol. 11 (9): 589–94. doi:10.1002/clc.4960110902. PMID 3229016.
  29. Lee HS (May 2000). "Objective measurement of red grapefruit juice color". J. Agric. Food Chem. 48 (5): 1507–11. doi:10.1021/jf9907236. PMID 10820051.
  30. Platt R (2000). "Current concepts in optimum nutrition for cardiovascular disease". Prev Cardiol. 3 (2): 83–7. doi:10.1111/j.1520-037X.2000.80364.x. PMID 11834923.
  31. Armando C, Maythe S, Beatriz NP (1997). "Antioxidant activity of grapefruit seed extract on vegetable oils". J Sci Food Agric. 77 (4): 463–7. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0010(199808)77:4<463::AID-JSFA62>3.0.CO;2-1.
  32. WMUR Ch. 9: New Hampshire news, weather, sports and entertainment. Researchers Put Grapefruit Diet To Test: Grapefruit Compound Lowers Cholesterol, Helps Regulate Insulin. June 11, 2003. Article
  33. Ignacio, C. and Thai, D. (2005). "Comparative Analysis of Antifungal Activity of Natural Remedies Versus Miconazole Nitrate Salt Against Candida Albicans"
  34. Sakamoto S, Sato K, Maitani T, Yamada T (1996). "[Analysis of components in natural food additive "grapefruit seed extract" by HPLC and LC/MS]". Eisei Shikenjo Hokoku (in Japanese) (114): 38–42. PMID 9037863.
  35. von Woedtke T, Schlüter B, Pflegel P, Lindequist U, Jülich WD (June 1999). "Aspects of the antimicrobial efficacy of grapefruit seed extract and its relation to preservative substances contained". Pharmazie. 54 (6): 452–6. PMID 10399191.
  36. Takeoka G, Dao L, Wong RY, Lundin R, Mahoney N (July 2001). "Identification of benzethonium chloride in commercial grapefruit seed extracts". J. Agric. Food Chem. 49 (7): 3316–20. doi:10.1021/jf010222w. PMID 11453769.
  37. Takeoka GR, Dao LT, Wong RY, Harden LA (September 2005). "Identification of benzalkonium chloride in commercial grapefruit seed extracts". J. Agric. Food Chem. 53 (19): 7630–6. doi:10.1021/jf0514064. PMID 16159196.
  38. Ganzera M, Aberham A, Stuppner H (May 2006). "Development and validation of an HPLC/UV/MS method for simultaneous determination of 18 preservatives in grapefruit seed extract". J. Agric. Food Chem. 54 (11): 3768–72. doi:10.1021/jf060543d. PMID 16719494.
  39. Ali, Mohamed Atiya; Poortvliet, Eric; Strömberg, Roger; Yngve, Agneta (2011). "Polyamines in foods: development of a food database". Food Nutr Res. 55: 5572. doi:10.3402/fnr.v55i0.5572. PMID 21249159.
  40. Gandey A (18 July 2007). "Cut Cancer Drug Costs By Exploring Food Interactions". Medscape Medical News.
  41. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Morton, J. 1987. Tangelo. p. 158–160. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.
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