Botany Photo of the Day
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Citrus sinensis 'Cara Cara'

Citrus sinensis 'Cara Cara'
Citrus sinensis 'Cara Cara'

I've developed a reputation at work for being a blood orange fanatic (“the taste of this one has a hint of rose petal” or “mmm... blackberry”), so I'm sure it will surprise everyone at UBC BG that I opted to photograph a Cara Cara navel orange for today's BPotD. There is a reason, though; the blood oranges available in local markets are the cultivar 'Moro'. Moro blood oranges can vary in colour inside from orange to purplish-red, while Cara Cara navel oranges, I've found, are quite consistent in the pinkish-orange colour of their flesh. I chose consistency over the risk of slicing open a number of blood oranges to find the right one. Cara Cara navel oranges are my second favourite orange, so that's why I had both in the kitchen.

Citrus sinensis 'Cara Cara' was discovered in 1976 as a mutation of a Washington navel orange in Valencia, Venezuela. The Citrus Variety Collection at the University of California, Riverside, shares both photographs and an explanation of the pinkish colour on its web page for sweet oranges; note that this page is an excellent resource for comparing orange varieties! UC Riverside also provides the book “The Citrus Industry” online, so if you're interested in either the botany of Citrus or the horticultural varieties of Citrus, you should find what you're looking for in those pages.

A few recipes, if you're so inclined (though I doubt any will beat the blood orange sorbet I had last week): Cara Cara orange & vanilla sorbet (discovered via Lamb Martini weblog) and frozen soufléed oranges from Greg Atkinson for The Seattle Times.

Lastly, for those wondering about the Valentine's Day significance of oranges: somewhere along the way, I've read that ingesting food is one of the most intimate acts. Minutes after these photographs were taken, I ate the sliced orange in a torrid act of love.


Great punch line (LOL) and great post! I will forward to my Florida-native husband who loves oranges.

How delicious, great picture.

Great detail in the shots and thanks for a big chuckle first thing in the morning with my breakfast. =)

Citrus sinensis - Z9 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Citrus sinensis - 3-5 degrees C/37-41 degrees F. - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

Certain people (who sell oranges for a living) like to say that the Cara Cara is a Navel/Grapefruit hybrid, which may be untrue but at least explains the taste.

I don't know what kind of blood oranges you get in BC, but the "sanguinelli" in Italy are profoundly superior to what they grow in CA.

The organic blood orange juice I purchase almost certainly has 'Sanguinelli' in it – I look forward to trying the fruit one day.

Hilarious post and gorgeous photos,'re driving me orange-crazy. WE do well here in the Annapolis Valley to get some navel oranges, some honey tangerines, the usual clemmies, and the generic whatever-they-can-get oranges. I was drooling on my keyboard just looking at those gorgeous photos...guess I'll have to console myself with an Annapolis Valley apple, instead.

Happy hallmark heart day....

Cf. David Karp on the subject on NPR a few days ago.

He claims that taroccos are the favorite in Italy, so I may be misremembering. Guess I'll have to do some more "research." I do know that Art Lange, who knows his fruit, grows all 3 and thinks the Sanguinellis have the best flavor.

I've bought 'Cara Cara' down here before, so it is sometimes available in local markets.

Yes, I think 'Cara Cara' is proving popular, so I suspect if it hasn't reached your grocery store in Annapolis Valley this year, it might in the next few.

How to get us all navel-gazing . . . :-)

Good one, Michael. Guess we are all in a good Valentine's Day mood.

I ran out to our local Thrift's Grocery this morning, bought some 'Cara Cara' navels, then shared them with my Botany class at the Pacific Horticulture Center here in Victoria, for a mutually enjoyed post-Valentine's snack! Thanks, Daniel!

My vote for best blood orange (out of Moro, Sanguinelli, and Tarocco, all of which I grow) is Tarocco.

It is interesting that Daniel mentions Moro as being unreliable in its color. Around here (southern California) Moro has the reputation as having the most consistently red flesh. Sanguinelli almost always has nice red exterior, but often very little red color inside. Tarocco is somewhere in between in its internal color, but I think has the best flavor. It probably needs the most heat.

As Daniel noted, Cara Cara is a mutation (a sport, actually) of a Washington navel, and hence not a hybrid of an orange and anything else. It is indeed very uniform in its coloration, which is caused by different compounds than the color in blood oranges.

Millet, who often answers queries on the garden's citrus forums, sent along the following comment:

“Blood oranges are characterized by the presence of the chemical anthocyanin in the fruit, giving the fruit a more or less intense red color to the juice, the pulp and in some varieties of blood oranges in the rind. The quantity of anthocyanin pigmentation production in blood oranges is temperature dependent. When the fruit is grown in constantly warm climates such as southern Florida the fruit develops little or no anthocyanin pigment, therefore the fruit is not red inside. In order to obtain dark coloration, the fruit must mature under cool temperatures. On the other hand the color of Cara Cara Navel Oranges is due to the pigment lycopene which is temperature neutral, therefore the Cara Cara will always obtain proper coloration independent of the location the tree is grown in. I grow Moro Blood Oranges, along with other blood orange varieties in my greenhouse in Colorado. By controlling the temperature of the greenhouse, I can obtain Moro's with a flesh coloration from a natural orange color to an extreme blood red. BTW, I always enjoy the BPotD, thanks for all your efforts.”

Now becoming the most popular variety we sell. Best in Dec & Jan here in FL and appear more red than your very nice photo. Enjoyed the site!!

Where can I buy (order) the plant of the blood orange varieties over the internet or by phone. I live at Hattiesburg, MS and a friend of mine has several growing in his garden, but does not know where his deceased wife bought them.

Roger, I suggest asking this question on the forums (see link just above “Post a Comment”) - there's a sourcing plants forum and a citrus forum.

These are my favorite oranges, from the scent of the flowers to the flavor of the fruit! I used to work in a very small shop that sold fresh fruit (a lot of it local) & mostly organic or "health food". We started getting in 'cara cara' and 'moro' (blood) oranges in December & January. In the past two years I have not been able to find them in my grocery stores. I live in Utah (freezing winters/hot summers) so I would have to grow these plants indoors most of the year. I am having a hard time finding the trees for sale, can someone point me in the right direction please (to a great place to buy these citrus trees.) Last spring, I bought 3 citrus trees - Improved Meyer Lemon, Tangerine and Valencia Orange (the smell was delightful when they were in bloom!) They got stolen out of my yard (along with a Japanese Maple & 7 orchids). This means I must start over with my citrus grove & I can't find anywhere locally that is selling them this spring. Thanks!

I live in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley.I truely have an insatiable passion for plants.Recently I have been on a citrus quest and I have been disappointed in all the sites I have attempted to Google for more in-depth info.The most important more comprehensive photos of each individual type.When planting I would like to see photos of the mature tree .Like they say, "a photo is worth a 1000 words." On occasion I will see the fruit on the tree of maybe a one foot square, and half slice-of the fruit to display the flesh which is highly beneficial ,but why not go the extra mile and display the mature tree.The very best is when they will have a shot of the tree in full fruition and a man or women standing next the tree so you can get a wonderful visual description the trees mature physical nature.Here in Los Angeles where 99% of edibles are planted in back yards we are working in areas of 50'x70'.To be able to plant a responsible and functional garden with true concern for the trees and all the other plants surrounding ,not to deprive them of future available sunshine (which there is an abundance of).I found two picturesque citrus books after much searching.One by Ortho ,and I believe the other by Sunset.Barnes and Noble and borders Zero.Osh garden Supplies had two instock.Please Help !!!I am particularly interested in W.Murcott,Page Tangerine,and Cara Cara Orange.Thanks ,Gary Gordon (

Gary, my suggestion is to visit the UC Riverside Citrus collection for seeing mature trees of many, many varieties.

I WAS BORN IN LA HACIENDA la CARACRA I pick up orange fron that tree my father was the one who inplant and obtain this new oraNGE california sagienea LA CARACARA AFTER 70 years of workiing in this farm the venezuelan gobermam took this farm a way from the jimenez family. Is name was domingo jimnez torrez gret men gret father.

I can't believe I've found someone with the same taste in oranges as me! Last year, I had my first blood orange (Moro) and I loved it. After I had a few, it quickly became my favourite orange. When I looked up blood oranges on , I discovered that there was another type of red orange called the Cara Cara navel. I first tried it a few weeks ago and they are now my second favourite orange. I have joined some blood orange and Cara Cara navel groups on Facebook, and if you have a Facebook account, you may like to do the same.

I live in the desert...Palm Springs area. I want a sweet juicy orange that is relatively easy to grow in desert conditions. I see a lot of Cara Cara trees commercially sold here but not sure if this is the right one for what I want. I used to live in Florida and loved my Temple Oranges. I also would like your tip on a good red grapefruit to grow here. Thx

I now enjoy Cara Cara pinkish fleshed navels and Moro blood oranges at home and able to share my blood oranges as the tree is starting to bear many pounds of fruit. I went visiting to the Cal Poly Pomona store and nursery and found those those tree stocks and decided to try them. I'm glad I did as the fruit is tasty. The navels are store size and this year the tree is bountiful for being under six feet.

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