HALL: Pound for pound, pumello is the heavyweight for this Sandestin gardener

Laura Hall
Phil Hummell with his four-pound pumello.

You say pumello, I say pomello, you say pomelo, I say... oh, let’s call the whole thing off and just call it lusho fruit.  This gigantic fruit was shown to me by Phil Hummel after being raised in his yard in Sandestin. 

I am not kidding you, this baby weighed in at four pounds, seven ounces with a circumference of 23 inches. Wow!  It just takes one to make a salad for an entire supper party. This fruit has little to none of the bitterness of grapefruit if you are careful to peel away and discard the thin white membrane around the fruit sections before eating.

I do some research and find that this pumello (I pick this name just for convenience of the article as all above names are appropriate) is probably the common ancestor of the grapefruit and is the largest fruit in the citrus family. The fruit can be white, pink or red on the interior, with a sweet and mildly tart flavor. I have actually seen it in The Fresh Market on occasion.

There is a bit of an art to peeling this beast. 

Carefully slice off the top rind down to where the flesh shows. Do the same procedure on the bottom. Take your knife and score the peel from top to bottom, dividing the pumello into four sections. From the top, work your fingers behind the peeling and strip the peel down from the top. With a knife or your fingers, peel away the white membrane surrounding the fruit. This membrane will cause the bitterness if not all cleaned away. This is not as much work as it seems and you will be delighted with the treat that awaits you.

I pull the pumello apart and pull off one section at a time.  Slice gently down the membrane and peel it away from the fruit.  You will be amazed at the lack of juice during this process.  If you look carefully at each fruit section you will find tiny raindrop shaped capsules that contain the juice. When finished you will have lovely sections of pumello you can pick up and eat. These sections will be perhaps 3 inches long by 2 inches wide. 

As I bite into a section I wait for the sour, tangy taste like grapefruit to turn my mouth into a shuddering pucker. It doesn’t happen. The fruit is delicate and light with a lovely, juicy taste. Very refreshing and I find myself going back for more.

This was a delightful experience.  Now my only problem will be finding a place in my yard for another citrus tree. 

Planting Pummelo

Pummelo loves full sun and a well drained soil.  It is tender in our zone as it doesn't like temperatures below freezing.  It’s best to plant in early spring, between March and May because trees planted this early will better tolerate colder temperatures later in the year.  Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball, deep enough that the top of the root ball sits just below the surface.  Pummelo can be purchased by special order from Lowe’s and Thomas Hicks Nursery.

Laura Hall is a long time resident of Destin.  She writes about gardens and other local topics, sometimes with her dog, Annie in tow.  If you have a good topic, contact her at