The orange tree, citrus aurantium (bitter) or sinensis (sweet) is a spherical tree that belongs to the Rutaceae family.
Photo Anastasia Sidorova at Unsplash
The orange tree does not exceed 8 to 10 meters high and is the most cultivated citrus in the world.
As a reference, the French, although they do not grow many orange trees, consume 17 kg of oranges per year and per person!
The sweet orange is probably a mutation of the bitter orange, which occurred about 2000 years ago. In China and India, the bitter orange was already cultivated 3000 years ago. The foot of the Himalayas around Bangladesh is probably the place of origin of this citrus fruit.
Greeks, Romans… nobody knew about the sweet orange tree. It was the Arabs who introduced it in Egypt and Palestine, where the Crusaders discovered it. The Portuguese made the orange tree a great success, bringing it from China or Ceylon (Sri Lanka) around 1500.
The sweet orange tree is one of the most cultivated fruits in the world. If today we can all enjoy a good orange juice for breakfast, until the end of the nineteenth century, this fruit was a luxury.
With the sweet orange, we make refreshing and tart syrups and a lemonade: the orangeade. Both syrups and orangeades are recommended for their benefits in case of fever.
We express the essence of Portugal in orange peel for the perfumers.
The flowers and leaves of sweet orange trees have the same virtues as those of bitter orange trees.
The leaves of the bitter orange tree are used for their sedative properties: they calm the spasms of nervous people and allow them to fall asleep.
We also recommend the bitter orange leaf against coughing attacks, stomach cramps of nervous origin, palpitations, headache (headaches).
It is also sometimes used as a fever reducer and as a perspiration (which increases perspiration) in case of a cold. The essential oil extracted from the bitter orange tree is called “small grain oil”.
Orange blossom can be used for the same purposes, but is generally used in the preparation of “orange blossom water”, which is very fragrant and used in pharmacy and food. It also has soothing properties.
The essential oil that accompanies the hydrolate during distillation is “neroli oil”, the base of the quality waters of Cologne.
The orange has carminative (promotes the expulsion of intestinal gas) and digestive virtues. The orange infusion lowers the fever and relieves headaches.
Orange peel is used to make syrups, dyes or alcohols. Orange stimulates the appetite and is an excellent stomach and digestive tonic. By squeezing the fruit, we extract the “essence of bitter orange”.
Orange tree infusion: 20 g of flowers or leaves per liter of water. Leave in infusion for 10 minutes. Consume 2 to 3 cups per day, including one at bedtime to facilitate sleep. To accentuate the fragrance and the effect, do not hesitate to add a few drops of orange blossom water.
Decoction of orange leaves: 120 to 150 leaves per liter. In the past it was used against epilepsy and in case of serious nervous disorders.
Bitter orange peel syrup: this syrup is tonic and stomachic. Preparation: 100 g of dry peel cut into pieces and leave to macerate for 12 hours with 100 g of alcohol at 60% vol. Strain and add a syrup prepared with 350 g of sugar in 1 l of water. It promotes digestion.
Appetizer and tonic orange wine: macerate 100 g of bitter orange peel in 1 l of white wine with some camomile flowers.
Orange blossom and leaf infusion: calms and softens the skin.
To cultivate orange trees, a soil with a neutral pH will be ideal. Choose a clay soil, which retains water and fertilizer but not excess moisture. As for exposure…
The trunk can withstand – 9 °C, its foliage is damaged from – 3 °C. Between 0 and 10 °C, the orange tree is in a vegetative state. In order to flower and bear fruit, it must grow in areas where the average annual temperature exceeds 13 °C.
Be careful, the orange tree doesn’t like the heat either. Above 35 °C, it goes back to vegetative rest. Last advice: avoid places exposed to strong winds, the branches, especially when they are loaded with fruit, would break.
Whether you choose to grow it in a pot or in the ground, do not scratch the soil more than 5 cm deep when weeding, so as not to damage the surface roots. They are fragile and every injury can open the door to disease…
The potted orange tree? Yes, it is possible. However, only a veranda or a cold greenhouse will allow you to store it in winter without any problem. In containers, they are very decorative plants.
There are three groups of oranges: blond, navel and blood orange.
Among blond oranges, a distinction is made between common and fine varieties.
The common varieties grow easily in the gardens of the French Riviera and give small fruits of bad taste quality.
The finest and best quality varieties mature between November and March. Among them are:
The navels: they reach maturity in November. They can be recognized by their navel and the embryo of the fruit that is formed inside the orange itself. They are sweet, easily cut into pieces.
Blood oranges: mature in February.
There are also half-blood oranges.
You can try the fresh orange, simple or squeezed, in jam or sherbet. The orange can be added to sauces or candies. In an infusion (20 g/l), the leaves stimulate the appetite. As for the orange flower, it is sedative (found in many infusions).
Nutrient Intake :
45 kcal/100 g. One orange covers most of the daily vitamin C needs of an adult (80 to 110 mg/day). The orange is also rich in trace elements and organic acids, which combine with alkaline substances in our body, producing carbonates and bicarbonates, whose benefits are recognized in cases of acidity and arthritis.
It’s time to let yourself be tempted by an orange carpaccio. Quick, easy, this recipe is unbeatable! On your shopping list: oranges, a few mint leaves, a little cinnamon and that’s it!
Some synonyms for the word “orange” to shine in society.
The word “orange” comes from Sanskrit. It is found in the words orange in Spain, laranja in Portugal, orange in Venice, naranj in the Arab world.
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