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Question How did the grapefruit get its name? It doesn't look like a grape.

Answer

It is believed that the name refers to the manner in which grapefruit grows in clusters on a tree.

Grapefruit. SNAP-Ed Connection, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Most botanists agree that the grapefruit is a cross between a pummelo External link and a sweet orange External link. Grapefruit, like all citrus fruit, is a Hesperidum, or a large modified berry with a thick rind.

Recently harvested grapefruit. Photo by Keith Weller. Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

If you see grapefruit growing on a tree, you will notice that they grow in clusters. It is suggested that these clusters resemble the shape of large yellow grapes and so the fruit was called a grapefruit. Another explanation is that the premature grapefruit looks similar in shape to unripe green grapes.

Inspecting grapefruit on conveyor at a grapefruit juice canning plant, Weslaco, Texas. Russell Lee, 1939. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Published: 11/19/2019. Author: Science Reference Section, Library of Congress

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