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Wednesday, 16 November 2016



Bitter types of citrus were grown in Southeast Asia and India 6,000 years ago. As a species, some varieties of citrus came from China, but the orange could be found in North West India as well as South West China.

Yellow Oranges and Green Tangerines by Zhao Lingrang, Chinese fan painting from the Song dynasty 

These early oranges were used primarily for the fragrance of their rind. They were held in the hand so that the warmth released the scent.

The Moors introduced the orange to modern Andalucia in Spain, with large scale cultivation starting in the 10th century.

Spanish travelers introduced the sweet orange to South America and Mexico in the mid-1500s, and to Florida in 1565, when Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St Augustine.

As oranges are rich in vitamin C and do not spoil easily, sailors during the Age of Discovery planted citrus trees along trade routes to prevent scurvy.

Spanish missionaries brought orange trees to Arizona between 1707 and 1710, while the Franciscans introduced the fruit to California in 1769.

Orange Grove outside of Santa Paula, California.

In the late 18th century, oranges were still a rarity in northern Europe. They were usually made into preserves, used for table decoration or offered as luxury gifts.

In 1791 the French revolutionary Robespierre was criticized by his comrades for his luxurious tendencies as he has had pyramids of oranges served to guests.

All navel oranges are genetic clones of a single mutated tree discovered by a Presbyterian missionary in  Bahia, Brazil in the mid 1800s.

Mandarin oranges were introduced to North America in the late 1800s by Japanese immigrants. They were gifts sent from their families in Japan to ring in the New Year.

In 1902 a French missionary Father Clement Rodier developed the Clementine, a hybrid of the Tangerine and the Seville or bitter orange, near Oran, Algeria.

The demand for the nutritious citrus fruits increased greatly in the 20th century as physicians discovered their medical benefits.

During World War II, oranges were so rare in England that some children ate them whole when they were first given one. They did not realize they should be peeled.


The word orange derives from the Sanskrit word for "orange tree", which is probably of Dravidian origin.

The English name for the color "orange" was named after the fruit – The color was originally called "geoluard."

There are words that rhyme with orange. Sporange is a botany term that means "spore case," Blorenge is a mountain in Wales, and Gorringe is the Anglocised version of the German name 'Goering'.


In 2013, 71.4 million metric tons of oranges were grown worldwide. Brazil is the world's leading orange producer, with an output almost as high as that of the next three countries combined (the United States, India, and China.)

A stand with oranges in a market at Agadir, Morocco. By Sir James - Wikipedia

Orange trees may bear fruit for hundreds of years: the French 'Constable Tree' bore fruit for 473 years.

Oranges are sold in bright red net bags because the color of the net deepens the perceived color of the fruits - this is called Munker's illusion.

The bigger the navel in an orange, the sweeter it will be.

A whole orange will float on water, but a peeled orange will sink.

The second man to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel survived the fall but later died as a result of slipping on a piece of orange peel.

The tradition of tangerines in stockings dates back to 12th century French nuns who left socks with fruit and nuts at the houses of the poor.

California has a law that says it is illegal to eat oranges in the bath. The law was created as it was believed that the citric acid would react with natural bath oils and create a highly explosive mixture.

Orange is the world’s third favorite flavor after chocolate and vanilla.

Sources Food For Thought by Ed Pearce,

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