History of Citrus in Florida

Citrus has been cultivated since ancient times, and has it’s origins in southeast Asia, Australia, and New Guinea. It was introduced by the first Spanish and Portuguese explorers when oranges were planted in the mid-1500s by Ponce de Leon, near St. Augustine. The first grapefruit tree was planted in 1823 near Tampa, by French Count Odet Philippe. It was during the mid-1800 century that the citrus industry was first established in northern parts of Florida.

Citrus was not grown commercially (for profit) until the end of the Civil War when the expansion of the railroad/railways, thanks to railroad barons Henry Flagler and Henry Plant, allowed the fruit to be shipped.

Source: State Archives of Florida

Source: See Safety Harbor

What does this all mean?

It means that citrus is not native to Florida.