The humble navel orange is juicy and tasty. But it turns out that this delightful treat is a failure that’s been going for two hundred years.
Yes, failure. According to Wikipedia:
A single mutation in 1810 to 1820 in a Selecta orange tree planted at a monastery near Bahia in Brazil, probably yielded the navel orange, also known as the Washington, Riverside, or Bahia navel…The mutation causes the orange to develop a second orange at the base of the original fruit, opposite the stem, as a conjoined twin in a set of smaller segments embedded within the peel of the larger orange. From the outside, it looks similar to the human navel, hence its name.
Because the mutation left the fruit seedless, and therefore sterile, the only means available to cultivate more of this new variety is to graft cuttings onto other varieties of citrus tree. It was introduced into Australia in 1824 and Florida in 1835. Twelve such cuttings of the original tree were transplanted to Riverside, California in 1870, which eventually led to worldwide popularity.
Today, navel oranges continue to be produced through cutting and grafting. This does not allow for the usual selective breeding methodologies, and so not only do the navel oranges of today have exactly the same genetic makeup as the original tree, and are therefore clones, all navel oranges can be considered to be the fruit of that single nearly two-hundred-year-old tree.
Let’s review: Two hundred years ago an orange grew on a tree and by accident it grew into a seedless double orange. Ever since then, through cutting and grafting, it’s become one of the world’s most popular fruits.
But the poor navel orange has no way to reproduce. And therefore it can’t be improved through selective breeding. Failure is the secret to success. Had that monk tossed it aside, we’d have no navel oranges today.
If your business, your projects, or your personal life seem mutated beyond recognition, don’t panic. You might be like the navel orange. Failure could be the foundation of your future. It could be the sweet nectar of your success.