Inventory, lb : 0
Ichang papeda is a small to medium-sized citrus, averaging 4 to 5 centimeters in diameter, and has an elongated oval, round, to slightly flattened shape. The fruits will vary in appearance and are covered in a deeply creased, wrinkled peel. The fruit’s surface is pebbled with many oil glands and has a somewhat rough-textured feel, ripening from dark green to yellow or orange at maturity. The tough peel encases a thick, white, and spongy rind that extends fibrous membranes into the flesh, dividing it into 8 to 10 segments. There is very little flesh within the citrus, and most of the flesh is comprised of pithy and dry pulp vesicles that contain acrid, sour oils, and little juice. The flesh is also pocked with many large cream-colored seeds. Ichang papeda citrus is not commonly consumed as its flavor is bitter, sour, tart, and unpleasant. While considered inedible as a fruit, the aromatic oils are often extracted, and the peel’s zest is used to impart flavors reminiscent of lemons. The oils have a bright, floral, and refreshing scent with subtle woody undertones. Beyond the fruits, Ichang papeda trees are known for their long and tapered oval leaves. The narrow leaves are typically 4 to 5 times longer than wide and are distinct from other papeda varieties.
Ichang papeda citrus is available in the late fall through winter.
Ichang papeda citrus, botanically classified as Citrus cavaleriei, is a rare variety belonging to the Rutaceae family. The small, wrinkled fruits grow on thorny evergreen trees that can reach 4 to 5 meters in height and are native to the forests of southwestern China. Ichang papeda is one of the oldest types of citrus and has been growing wild since ancient times. Experts trace the name Ichang back to the variety’s native city of Yichang in the Hubei province of China, where the citrus trees were first noticed for their hardiness. Ichang papeda citrus is known as the most cold-tolerant citrus, able to grow in temperate climates worldwide, and has been utilized as a rootstock in breeding programs. The wild citrus is also a parent variety to several famous cultivars, including yuzu, hyuganatsu, and kabosu citrus. Beyond its purpose as a rootstock, Ichang papeda citrus is primarily localized to Asia, where the trees are grown as an ornamental addition to landscapes. Ichang papeda trees develop colorful fruits, aromatic blooms, and the branches grow in distinct shapes, creating an attractive addition to natural landscapes. The fruits are not commonly consumed and are often considered acrid and unpalatable. Despite its bitter nature, Ichang papeda citrus does contain rich essential oils that are sometimes extracted as a scent enhancement.
Ichang papeda citrus has not been extensively studied for its nutritional profile as it is not commonly consumed. Like other sour citrus varieties, the fruits may be a source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation, contain some potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, and fiber to regulate the digestive tract. Ichang papeda has also been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine in tonics and teas to relieve symptoms of common colds and digestive issues. Citrus peels relieve respiratory ailments, stimulate natural digestion, clear heat from the body, and maintain liver health.
Ichang papeda citrus is generally considered unpalatable with its naturally sour and bitter flavor. The fruits are mostly viewed as ornamental, and the central element of the primitive citrus that can be used for edible preparations is its fragrant aroma and oil. While uncommon, some home cooks may use Ichang papeda for its juice or zest. The fruits should only be used when they are very ripe and can act as a lemon substitute in sweet and savory culinary preparations. Ichang papeda can be zested and incorporated into marinades, dressings, and sauces, stirred into batters and dips, or used to enhance flavors within roasted meat dishes. The fruit’s aromatic oil may also be mixed into beverages, used to flavor candies, or blended into ice cream, pastries, and other desserts. Whole, unwashed Ichang papeda will keep for 1 to 3 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
In Southeast Asia, Ichang papeda citrus is sometimes utilized for its fragrant essential oils. These oils are primarily found in the fruit’s peel and pulp and have a sweet, woody, and refreshing, lemon-like aroma. The essential oils are a natural fragrance in perfumes and may be found in lotions, soaps, and cosmetics. Papeda citrus juice is also used on a smaller scale, combined with coconut oil, and used as a hair strengthener. Much of the Ichang papeda flesh is dry and pithy, but when ripe, some villages in China harvest the fruits from wild trees and use the juice as a natural cleaner.
Ichang papeda citrus is native to China and is considered one of the most primitive and wild forms of citrus. The ancient variety has been growing wild for thousands of years was first discovered in Xingshan county within the Hubei province and was later found in other provinces, including Guangxi, Sichuan, Shanxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, and Chonnging. In the Yunnan province of southwestern China, Yuanjiang county is considered the region with the largest concentration of Ichang papeda citrus. Over time, Ichang papeda was planted throughout Asia and has been utilized as rootstock for breeding purposes and as a parent variety to several commercially cultivated citruses. The domesticated Ichang papeda citrus thrives in almost any temperate climate worldwide and naturally grows along river valleys, in forests, or in mountainous terrain. In 1926, Walter Tennyson Swingle, an agricultural botanist specializing in citrus, introduced the Ichang papeda to the United States to breed more cold-resistant hybrids. Today Ichang papeda is mainly localized to Asia, where the citrus continues to grow wild and is planted in research facilities or home gardens. In the United States, a few trees can be found in research centers and arboretums, but the citrus is considered very rare and not commercially grown. The wild citrus is mainly used for rootstocks to improve the hardiness of other commercial citrus varieties.