Kumquats, meaning “golden orange” in Chinese, are a small citrus variety which originated in South Asia. They were imported to the U.S. in the second half of the 19th century, and in 1885 Taber brought kumquats to Glen Saint Mary. The sturdy trees survived the freezes of 1894-95 and continued to bear fruit, demonstrating their resilience.
While many nurserymen shipped the fruits to customers in strawberry cartons, Taber understood the value of presentation and would package kumquats with the leaves still attached. Customers would use whatever kumquats they did not eat as centerpiece decorations in their homes.
Most kumquats sold for $0.25 per quart in 1902, but Taber’s fruit sold for $.75 to $1.00 per quart. In addition to selling the fruits, Taber shipped kumquat trees in pots to florists in Northern states. Several kumquat trees remain on the nursery today although they are no longer propagated and sold.1