Variegated Cara Cara navel orange tree (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck)
Source: Sport mutation on Nursery Stock at Georgia Nursery
Parentage/origins: A bud mutation on a branch of a normal Cara Cara navel orange.
Season of ripeness: December to January
Variegated Cara Cara Orange Tree
The Variegated Cara Cara Orange Tree is extremely rare. It was cultivated from a sport mutation on Nursery Stock at Georgia Nursery. Wowza!
The Cara Cara navel orange, or red-fleshed navel orange, is an early-to-midseason navel orange believed to have developed as a spontaneous bud mutation on a Washington navel orange tree.
A sport discovered at the Hacienda Caracara 10.2447°N 67.9478°W in Valencia, Venezuela, in 1976, the Cara Cara appears to be of such uncertain parentage as to occasionally warrant the distinction of a mutation, with only the tree on which it was found—the Washington navel—being an accepted progenitor. Cara Caras did not enter the U.S consumer produce market until the late 1980s and were carried only by specialty markets for many years thereafter.
This medium-sized navel is seedless, sweet and low in acid, and characterized by little to no pith and easy, clean separation from the rind. The flavor is more complex than those of most navel varieties and has been described as evoking notes of cherry, rose petal, and blackberry.
Unlike in true blood oranges, where the main pigmentation is due to anthocyanins, pigmentation in Cara Cara is due to carotenoids such as lycopene.
From the major growing regions, South American Cara Caras are ready for market starting in August, Venezuelan fruits arrive in October and California fruits make their seasonal debut in late November and are available through April.