Everything you need to know about the orange tree

The orange tree (Citrus sinensis) is a fruit tree of oriental origin that has settled in Mediterranean areas so efficiently that many believe that its real origin is from these lands. It is originally from China, brought to the West by the Arabs. It grows well in mild, warm climates, and on the Iberian Peninsula it is grown above all in Valencia and in areas of the Ebro Lands, where it is usually irrigated by flooding about three times a year. It does not support prolonged frosts.

It belongs to the Citrus genus, which is part of the Rutaceae family. Lemon , lime, tangerine or grapefruit belong to this same genus .  Recent genetic research has shown that most of these fruits are actually hybrids produced from grapefruit. A fundamental characteristic of this family, of which the orange peel perfectly complies, is the presence of special secretory bags that easily release essences.

There are a large number of different varieties, mainly due to the quality of the fruit and the taste, which varies from sweet to acid. The Citrus aurantium species produces bitter oranges, used to make some liqueurs, jams and preserves. This variant is the medicinal variety.


It is a tree of medium height that does not usually exceed 5 meters, although in optimal growing conditions it reaches up to 13 meters in height. It has a fairly large and dense conical crown. This cup is usually given a spherical or pyramidal shape, especially when the orange tree is used as an ornamental fruit tree .

Its trunk is short, smooth and grayish in color. Its leaves are oval-shaped (between 7 and 10 centimeters) and are perennial with a very vivid and intense green. Its branches usually have large spikes (more than 10 centimeters).

It needs a dense shadow that lasts half a day. It is a tree sensitive to cold. It requires fresh, medium-capacity soils, regardless of their nature.

flowers and fruit

The flowers of the orange tree are hermaphroditic and can appear in small clusters or solitary, but in any case they do so during the spring. The flowers are made up of 5 very fleshy white petals with a spectacular aroma.

The fruit of the orange tree is the orange. At this precise moment it is important to differentiate between two types of orange trees: the bitter orange tree and the sweet orange tree.

bitter orange

It is used as an ornamental tree or for medicinal purposes. You can also find jams made with bitter orange but, in general, sweet orange tends to be preferred because the pulp of this bitter orange is too bitter for consumption.

This tree is native to China and was brought to Europe by Muslims during the Middle Ages.

sweet orange

It is more appropriate to use it in our consumption of oranges . Oranges do not have a 100% sweet taste, but rather a bittersweet flavor that we love, both in the form of juice and as a piece of fruit.

Whether of the bitter or sweet species, the orange is a berry that is formed by a rough outer skin with an orange color (exocarp). In its intermediate part it has a kind of whitish skin (mesocarp) and already inside it is the fruit that we eat subdivided into small segments (endocarp).

Cultivation and uses

Orange cultivation is a very important part of the economy of many countries, such as the United States (Florida and California), most of the Mediterranean countries, Mexico, Pakistan, Brazil, China, India, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa.

We find it in regions with a temperate and humid climate. In Spain, we find it above all in Valencia, where they have very modern irrigation systems and the cultivation of fruit is very important for the area. Although it is a crop that needs irrigation, it does not support excessive humidity or reservoirs, which would lead to the loss of the tree. Prolonged frosts mainly affect the fruit, both in low quality and in its loss; the most intense frosts finish with the tree and it supposes a great loss because the effect lasts about six years, until the new plantation begins to produce.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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