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With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

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Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mid Autumn Festival - Why the Pomelo Fruit and Where to Buy Pomelo

I have a pomelo tree which I grow in a big flower pot. A normal sized tree when planted on the ground can reach up to a height of 5-15 metres (16-50 ft).  Pomelo leaves are constantly needed for prayers and cleansing. We add some pomelo leaves to our washing basin/tub or bath water to cleanse the hands and body before prayers or after a visit to the hospital, graves or funeral. Taoist masters sometimes use a stalk of pomelo leaves to sprinkle sacred/charmed water in cleansing rituals.  Pomelo leaves have a mild fragrance similar to that of citronella.

The flowers are fragrant and they can be used to make aromatic oils and perfumes.

Scientific name: Citrus maxima
Synonym: Citrus grandis
Family: Rutaceae
Common name: Pomelo
Native to: Southeast Asia

Pomelo is the word to use for the plant as well as the fruit. In Chinese it is called 'you zi' (柚子). In Malay, it is called 'limau Bali' meaning Bali lime/orange.

The pomelo is the ancestor of the grapefruit which is a cross between the pomelo and orange. It is the largest citrus fruit at 15-25cm (6-10 inches) in diameter and weighs between 1-2 kg. The skin changes from pale green to yellow when ripe. It is much bigger than the grapefruit and the flesh tastes better.

Like mooncakes, pomelo fruits are traditionally associated with the Mid Autumn Festival. You can say that it is a must have during this season. We use it as a prayer offering and place it on the altar. Pomelo fruits being round in appearance signifies family unity and togetherness. Pomelos are called 'you zi' in Chinese which when pronounced, 'you' sounds like 'having' and this signifies abundance and wealth. 'You zi' also sounds like 'having sons or off-springs' which will thus ensure the continuity of the future generations. Either way, these are symbols of prosperity and good fortune.

“Mid Autumn Festival - Pomelo Fruits”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on September 19th, 2010.

The above is a concrete replica of the pomelo fruit erected by the Ipoh City Hall in front of a stretch of pomelo stalls along Jalan Gopeng opposite Hillcity Hotel and Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple. This area is a tourist attraction and they arrive here by the bus loads. There are several famous cave temples nearby, e.g. Ling Sen Tong, Guan Yin Tong, Nan Thean Tong and Sam Poh Tong.

Visitors who come to Ipoh buy pomelo fruits to bring back home as gifts to family and friends.  Conversely, Ipohlites who leave town to visit friends and relatives will bring along the pomeloes as gifts.  The pomelo has become synonymous with Ipoh, hence it is a must-try if it is your first time in Ipoh.

A pomelo farm in Tambun, Ipoh

Malaysia's climate is ideal for pomelo farming. The best pomeloes in Malaysia are reputed to be from Tambun which is a 10 min drive from Ipoh city.  Tambun is surrounded by rocky, rainforested limestone hills as old as 400 million years and the calcium rich soil acts as a natural fertilizer, hence the fruits produced are extra tasty and juicy. Tambun pomeloes are so famous for its quality fruits that many of us call the pomelo, Limau Tambun or "Tambun lime".  Tambun pomeloes are seedless. The biggest pomelo from Tambun weighed more than 6 kg!

Pomelos from Gerai Limau Bali Heng Kee in Tambun, Ipoh.

Pomelo orchards are concentrated around the Tambun and neighbouring Ampang districts of Ipoh. Most of the orchards are family owned and many of them have been in the pomelo business for more than 2 generations which dates back to more than 80 years ago. Locals like me who wish to buy fresh fruits direct from the farmers will come here for the best quality and most reasonable prices. When choosing pomelos, select the heavier ones to ensure that the flesh is juicy and not dried up.

For those of us who wish to use the pomeloes for prayers, we prefer a fruit that has the stalk and preferably also the leaves intact.

To eat the pomelo, we do not cut accross the fruit. First we need to peel off the skin by using a knife to slice vertically down the fruit at a few places. The cut should be about half an inch deep only. Next we use our hands to separate the thick outer rind from the pomelo. The thin inner skin which is white in colour is bitter and also need to be removed. Then we can proceed to eat the flesh just like a peeled orange.

Pomelo flesh is one of the ingredients used in the making of "Rainbow Yee Sang", an auspicous salad dish for Chinese New Year. Modern chefs are incorporating the pomelo in salads, soups and appetizers.

Some uses of the pomelo peel include:
1. Candied pomelo peel and marmalade
2. Sun dried peels are used in the making of herbal drinks as a treatment for cough.
3. The water from boiling the pomelo peel can be used in the prevention of dandruff, link here.
4.  Incorporated into hair and body shampoo.
5. The rind can be worn on the head as a hat in a child's game.

During the Mid Autumn Festival, some believe that eating pomeloes and wearing the leftover rind on the head signify a prayer for the youngsters in the family. "Chang-E, the Moon Goddess will see them and respond to their prayers when she looks down from the moon." The link is here.

Pomelos are high in Vitamin C, A, folic acid and potassium. For Tambun pomelos, there are 2 types; fruits with white flesh are sweet while those with pink flesh are a bit sour. It can be eaten raw and it taste better than the grapefruit.

Are you growing this plant?
Do you have a recipe or story to share about the pomelo?

Update: Contribution from my commenters:
1. Luna Miranda - The leaves are added to rice cakes to neutralize the sweetness
2. Lotus Leaf - It is an old Indian custom to plant a pomelo tree if a baby girl is born
3. Orchid de dangau - pomelo flesh can be eaten with rojak sauce

Contact of Tambun Pomelo Farm
Chin Pomelo Farm
(visited by Hong Kong celebrity chefs)
158258A, Jalan Ampang, Tambun, Ipoh, Perak Malaysia
Tel: 6013-5016491
Contact Person : Mrs Chin - she speaks only Mandarin and Cantonese
Link: Pomelo Farm Stay Program

Contact of Pomelo Fruit Vendors
Store no. 38 - Kedai Limau Tambun, Buah-Buahan & Minuman
Lot 160188, Jalan Ampang Baru 6
Ampang Baru New Village
31400 Ipoh, Perak
Tel: +6016-501 0145, +6016-599 2178
They also sell other seasonal tropical fruits like guava, banana, water apples, carambola, etc.

Gerai Limau Bali Heng Kee
Lot 160186, Jalan Ampang Baru 6
Ampang Baru New Village,
31400 Ipoh, Perak
(along the road to Tambun town and Chin Pomelo Farm)

This is my entry for Today's Flowers, the link is here.

Updated on 27 Sep 2012: My other related posts are as follows:

  1. Mid-Autumn Festival 2011 - The Hare / Jade Rabbit (line here)
  2. Mid-Autumn Festival 2010 - Water Caltrops, also The Old Man of the Moon (link here)
  3. Mid-Autumn Festival 2010 - Lotus Seeds and Mooncakes (link here)
  4. Mid-Autumn Festival 2009 - The Story of Moon Cakes and The Story of Chang 'E (link here)


  1. Great post, I have not heard of the Pomelo plant or fruit before. Thansk for sharing.

  2. My mouth is watering Autumn Belle! i don't have a pomelo but I have a tangelo that has green ones on it.

  3. I did not know that the flowers of pomelo were so beautiful. Great post and shots. Congratulations.


  4. Pomelo is my favorite citrus fruit--i had a few slices this evening. its a great source of fiber.:p

    we also use pomelo leaves for cleansing after attending a funeral. the leaves are also added to rice cakes to neutralize the sweetness.

  5. The concrete pomelo is awesome! I haven't tried a pomelo before but I have seen them once in a while in the markets. I would never know how to eat it.

  6. It looks very tasty!

    I havent had pomelo since back when i lived at my country.
    It looks like a great place to visit.

  7. Looks yummy and I missed eating pomelo. I'm drooling right

  8. I love pomelo! I never fail to buy them when in season. My next door neighbour have a pot of pomelo which bears fruits occasionally.

  9. My mom used to tell us how she hated eating pomelo skins when she was young. Raised by her grandma, they were poor and this was the only food they eat for days at times. I love pomelos..the ones here are ok, but the ones I ate at Vietnam was super sweet :) I'd love to grow a pomelo plant! Will look for it :) Happy week ahead.

  10. Have never tasted this but must! Your stunning photos add to my quest for a bite of this beautiful fruit.

  11. You make my mouth waters. I love pomelo so much and I miss it. Great photos.

  12. My mouth is also watering, Autumn Belle. In India, it was a custom in the olden days to plant a pomelo tree if a baby girl is born to the family.

  13. Wow! Autumn Belle, Good story. Great pictures.

  14. My mouth watering now.. I love to eat pomelo with 'rojak sauce' or sometime with mix chili, sugar and salt. The taste is great....

    Great picture.

  15. Thanks for the enlightening posting on pomelo. I now learnt that pomelo offered for prayers must have its stalk and leaves intact.

    Without a pomelo tree in the garden, it is very difficult to find pomelo leaves whenever we need them for cleansing or after attending a funeral. I would have to drive all the way to Sri Muda in Shah Alam to buy them. Lucky of you to have a pomelo tree in your garden.

  16. I have not eaten pamelo for years...sigh...mouth watering looking at your pictures. I read somewhere that orange originate from south east asia and the original colour was not orange. do you think this is true? It was saying that it originate specifically at malay peninsular.

  17. i love yr blog...and this particular post makes me wanna buy a train ticket back to ipoh this weekend and cari limau tambun :-D

  18. Wow you stopped over Parlo to snap the stone pomelo nice pixs! Love the pink sour pink and like sour fruit, sure to confuse people that Bananaz's is a she haha..

  19. aloha,

    i love the history and significance to your cutures chinese and malay, very interesting.

  20. Wow first time seeing pomelo's flowers awesome pixz..tQ

  21. Hi there,I am an "expert" in growing fruit trees that wouldn`t fruit and that includes my pomelo tree as well! Care to share the farmer`s contact? Thank you.

  22. Your pomelo is nice and juicy! Pomelo juice is known to bring down blood cholesterol. But the juice is taboo for people taking certain types of medication for hypertension.

  23. Hi, everyone. Thank you very much for the nice comments. I have updated my post regarding the uses of pomelo based on info from your comments.

    Malay Kadazan Girl, thanks for letting me know about the orange. It is news to me. I googled and found that orange does originate from Southeast Asia.

    Anonymous. I don't have the phone no of this farm where I bought the delicious pomeloes. There are many farms here. I have a famous contact listed on the internet which may be of help to you and I have updated my post with this information. Hopes it helps.

  24. marvelous





  25. I have a fruit bearing pomelo tree. The fruits are bitter. Is there a remedy to make the fruits sweet? What will I do?

    1. The taste (sweet/sour/bitter) of the pomelo fruit depends on the cultivar/variety you are growing. Beyond that, I'm sorry I do not know how to make the pomelo fruits become sweet.

  26. Put coarse salt around the tree.


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