The citrus story - and the demise of orange juice

Citrus fruits - oranges, lemons and limes - are not wild plants but complicated hybrids that arose through human activities in China and south-east Asia. Introduced to Australia with the First Fleet, they have been brought into contact with native species in Australia, which has more truly wild Citrus species than any other country. The resultant hybrids form a significant bush-tucker industry, while the original introduced crops are economically the most important fruits grown in Australia today. But all this is now threatened by an incurable bacterial disease which has devastated citrus groves in the United States and already reached New Guinea. David Mabberley will explain how this has all happened and whether there is any hope at all for the future of orange-juice at our breakfast tables.

Professor David Mabberley, formerly Executive Director, Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust (Sydney), is a botanist and author based in NSW. He is Emeritus Fellow, Wadham College, University of Oxford, Extraordinary Professor, Universiteit Leiden, The Netherlands, and Adjunct Professor, Macquarie University. David has worked in Europe, USA and Asia, and written eighteen books on topics ranging from tropical rain forest ecology to social change in the Mediterranean engendered by the European Union's agricultural policy, to the history of nineteenth-century science and botanical art. He is probably best known for his comprehensive dictionary, 'Mabberley's Plant-book' (ed. 3 2008). He is currently working on a fourth edition of that book, as well as on the ecology and systematics of citrus and its close relatives, a book on Matthew Flinders's botanical artist, Ferdinand Bauer, and another on the nineteenth-century botanist, Robert Brown.