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We happened upon the Mother Orange Tree during one of our “let’s drive around and see what we can find” days. We were leaving the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area when we saw the “Brown Sign”. Brown signs are like magnets for us, it’s almost as if they call to us and magically steer our car in the direction of the sign and we have no choice but to follow them. This particular sign directed us to the Mother Orange Tree and being as we were in California it seemed appropriate to go check it out.

Mother Orange Tree Sign

History of the Mother Orange Tree

Originally from Mazatlan Mexico, the Mother Orange Tree was purchased in 1856 by Judge Joseph Lewis in Sacramento, California and planted in Oroville, California. Over the years this tree has grown to be over 60 feet tall and has produced nearly 600 lbs of fruit. During the construction of the Oroville Dam the Mother Orange Tree was transplanted to the California State Park Headquarters where it resides today.

Which brings me back to my story…

Mother Orange Tree History

More Recent History

When we arrived at the Mother Orange Tree I read the signs that diplayed her story only to learn that many miners once traveled miles to sample the Mother Orange Trees’ fruit and use her seeds to grow new trees. This is where the light went off in my head and I knew that I too would have to sample her fruit and send her seeds to my sister, who loves to plant things!

Thus began my antics. I proceeded over to the tree and noticed that all of her fruit was well above my reach, so I searched for the perfect stick in the hopes of using the stick to retrieve the sweet delicious orange that I was now so determined to possess. When this failed miserably, I checked all the fruit that was laying on the ground hoping to find one that was not rotten. Foiled again! There was only one other option..my husband. Standing over 6 foot tall, I new that he would be able to snatch an orange from the tree without any effort at all.

Reluctant and grumbling about how we were going to go to jail, he was able to grab an orange from the tree and hand it over to me where I rejoiced in my success.

Mother Orange Tree Orange

I was so excited to eat my yummy treat and send the seeds off to my sister that we had only been home minutes when I was cutting up my new orange, plucking out the seeds and preparing them for the mail. I put the first bite in my mouth excited to taste the sticky, sweet orange of the Mother Orange Tree…YUCK! To soon…we picked the fruit too soon!

That orange had so much pucker power that I took all I had to finish it. But I did. I ate the whole thing, eyes crossed. Lesson learned.

4 thoughts on “The Mother of all Orange Trees!

  1. I grew up in Oroville, & in 1954 or so, my Brownie troop took a field trip to Bidwell Bar (the 2nd site of gold discovery in CA), where the Mother Orange Tree was originally planted. The Ranger leading our excursion was a friend of my Dad’s, & gave me an orange from the tree, gently reminding me to share it with the troop. Boy, oh, boy, I didn’t want to, but of course, I did. The peel was VERY thick & the actual fruit inside very small and was it ever bitter!! Even then. You see, we had an orange orchard, so I knew why it was bitter: too old of a tree, and not enough water given. It wasn’t a crop, so it wasn’t watered correctly.

    • Right? You’d think the Mother of All anything would be much bigger!

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