University of California, Riverside Citrus Variety Collection

Original building of the UC Citrus Experiment Station

The UCR Citrus Variety Collection (CVC) is one of the most important collections of citrus diversity in the world. It is used for research, plant breeding, and educational extension activities on the UC Riverside campus in Riverside, California.


The collection is composed of 1800 trees, representing two of each of the 900 different types of citrus and relatives. 640 types are within the genus Citrus, the remaining types are included among 28 other related genera in the Rutaceae sub-family Aurantiodeae.


The CVC was first established with approximately 500 species of citrus planted on 5 acres (2.0 ha) by Herbert John Webber, professor of plant breeding and director of the early UC Citrus Experiment Station. Today, the collection consists of 22.3 acres (9.0 ha) on the UCR campus, 2 acres (0.81 ha) at the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine, California, and 2 acres (0.81 ha) at the Coachella Valley Agricultural Research Station in Thermal, California. It still includes accessions that were first introduced in the early 20th century, as well as newer varieties that were more recently developed through the Citrus Clonal Protection Program (CCPP), a special program that evaluates the trees for the nursery and citrus industries.


The collection currently serves as a genetic resource for research ranging from the grafting of rootstocks to the study of limonoids as anti-cancer agents. In addition, the USDA-ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Citrus and Dates (NCGRCD) uses the collection for the conservation of genetic diversity within the Rutaceae family. The CVC also provides fruit for many education extension activities, such as the Riverside Orange Blossom Festival.[1]

The collection attracts admirers from around the world. In addition to her research duties, Curator Tracy L. Kahn regularly hosts grocers, farmers, restaurateurs as well as members of the public interested in rare varieties of the fruit. Her collaborations with local chef Brien Clements, owner of Restaurant Omakase, have led to the production of gourmet citrus dinners that have attracted the attention of connoisseurs in New York, resulting in his invitation to cook a citrus meal for the James Beard Foundation.[2]


"We've used the Citrus Variety Collection as a testbed for our business growing and selling unusual citrus varieties. We basically sell flavor, and the opportunity to taste unusual varieties of citrus, and the accumulated knowledge that resides in the heads of the program's staff, have proven invaluable to us as we continually search for varieties with excellent flavor and other characteristics that allow us to differentiate our fruit in the marketplace."

– Jim Churchill, Ojai grower of pixie tangerines and other nonmainstream varieties of citrus.[3]


David Karp is currently photographing the fruit and trees of the CVC, which are placed on the web by Tony Siebert.


See also



Coordinates: 33°58′33″N 117°19′52″W / 33.9757°N 117.3312°W / 33.9757; -117.3312

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