Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Katherine from Toledo. Katherine Wonders, “Why is there a fruit called a grape, but there is also a fruit called a grapefruit?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Katherine!
We were walking through the Wonderopolis forest the other day when we overheard an interesting conversation between a duck and a monkey:
Duck: Hey Monkey! I'm hungry. Got any grapes?
Monkey: What's up, Duck? I've got some grapefruit I'll share.
Duck: Grapes are my favorite fruit! It amazes me how something so small can be so sweet!
Monkey: Small and sweet? What are you talking about? Grapefruit are large and kind of sour.
Duck: I'm talking about grapes. What are you talking about? And why do you keep saying "fruit" after the name? Grapes are obviously fruits.
Monkey: I'm talking about grapefruit! That's the name. I didn't come up with it. I just eat it!
We were late for a meeting, so we weren't able to stick around to see whether the duck liked grapefruit or the monkey had ever seen grapes. Their conversation did make us WONDER how the grapefruit got its name, though.
After all, if there's already a fruit called a grape, why would anyone go and name another fruit grapefruit? Isn't the English language difficult enough already?
The grapefruit was first described in 1750 by Reverend Griffith Hughes. He was searching the Caribbean island of Barbados for the identity of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" found in the Garden of Eden as described in the Bible. He found grapefruit and afterward referred to it as the "forbidden fruit."
Botanists believe the grapefruit developed as a cross between an orange and a pummelo or pomelo. For many years, the grapefruit was known as a shaddock or shattuck, based upon the name of a Captain Shaddock of the East India Company who first brought the pomelo to Europe in the late 17th century.
The name "grapefruit" didn't appear in print until 1814, when John Lunan's botanical work, Hortus Jamaicensis, was published. Scholars believe the name had evolved by that point in time due to the way in which grapefruit grow in clusters on a tree.
On the tree, grapefruit grow in big clusters. When they're small, green, and not yet ripe, they can look a bit like a cluster of grapes. As they grow and ripen into their signature yellow color, they might look a bit like large, yellow grapes.
Most grapefruit grown in the United States come from Florida. Regardless of how they got their name, grapefruit are a healthy citrus snack that pack a punch when it comes to vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, folate, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and lycopene.