Answer Man: Did that symbol of Orange County, the Valencia orange, originate in Valencia, Spain?

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Q: Did that symbol of Orange County, the Valencia orange, originate in Valencia, Spain?

Illustration by Blair Thornley

A: The Valencia orange, which dominated our economy for half a century, originated in the Azores of Portugal and was brought to England by Thomas Rivers in 1865. Seedlings later came to Florida, where they were known as “Hart’s Tardiff” or “Brown” oranges. From there, several growers, including Albert B. Chapman, brought them to California. It’s said a Spanish employee at Chapman’s San Gabriel groves named the orange “Valencia.” Other sources say Chapman called this orange the “Rivers Late” (because it produces late in the season) until he learned that in Spain this variety was called “La Naranja Tarde de Valencia.” It certainly sounds more appealing than “Brown oranges.”

Chris Jepsen is the Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to cjepsen@socal.rr.com.

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