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Orange - Chinese apple

The story of the orange


Oranges are the fruits of trees of the genus citrus of the rue family, the subfamily of orange. Strictly speaking, according to science, an orange is considered a berry.

The word "orange", so familiar to all of us today, came into the Russian language from the Dutch language. Today, in the literary Dutch language, the use of the name "sinaasappel" is considered correct, and the word "appelsien" is marked by Dutch etymological dictionaries as a regional tracing paper from the French phrase "pomme de Sine", which translates as "Chinese apple".

Orange tree in Italy

An orange plant is a fairly powerful evergreen tree, the height of which depends on the variety, it grows quite quickly and begins to bear fruit 8-12 years after planting. The life cycle of an orange tree is about 75 years, although individual specimens live up to 100-150 years and produce about 38 thousand fruits in a productive year. Oranges provide the largest harvest of all citrus fruits in the world.

Most scientists are inclined to conclude that the orange comes from China, where it appeared about 2.5 thousand years BC. This is a hybrid obtained in antiquity from a mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and pomelo (Citrus maxima). In one of the Chinese manuscripts, dating back to 1178, 27 of the best varieties of oranges and tangerines are described.

To this day, the Chinese traditionally give their loved ones pots of orange plants with small oranges on the branches. Because in China today, like four thousand years ago, they are absolutely sure that an orange tree in a house is a guarantee of eternal happiness, constant prosperity and stable well-being.

 Chinese sweet orange. Photo: Rita Brilliantova

It is believed that the orange came to Europe only in the 15th century. According to one version, this citrus was brought in 1429 after Vasco Da Gama's trip to India. Returning with his companions to Europe, Vasco da Gama enthusiastically talked about how in one of the harbors of the east coast of Africa they were treated to wonderful fruits - oranges. According to another version, the Portuguese brought the sun fruit from China in 1518. But orange trees are not only sweet, but also sour fruits. It was sour varieties that came to Europe at the beginning of the 15th century, so they did not cause much enthusiasm among the European nobility. And only at the end of the 15th century, when trade and economic ties between the West and the East were strengthened, sweet orange became a delicacy in Europe.

Earlier, Arab and Indian sailors transported this culture to the east coast of Africa. The further spread of this plant was facilitated by the Spanish and Portuguese colonialists, who in the 15th-16th centuries brought the orange, along with lemon and other citruses, to West Africa, Central and South America.

In the 14th century, the word for "orange" appeared in English and began to sound like "orange". Later, the name of the color originated from this word, which coincides in color with the zest of this bright juicy fruit. An interesting fact - few people know that, in fact, the peel of oranges is green. If oranges are grown in warm countries, then their flesh will be orange, and the skin of a ripe fruit will be green. If the fruits lack sun, they will turn orange. It's all about chlorophyll, which oranges accumulate during ripening, and it gives them a bright green color. Oranges become orange after being frozen or specially treated with ethylene to give them a more "attractive" color for commercial purposes.

Until the 18th century, oranges in Europe were grown exclusively in greenhouses, because the European climate was not very suitable for orange trees. To grow oranges, it was necessary to create special warm conditions for them. Since then, the monarchs and wealthy nobles of the greenhouse began to appear and become fashionable (from the French "orange" - orange).Especially large greenhouses, in which this culture, among other exotic plants, was successfully cultivated, were located in London, Paris and St. Petersburg. However, in Southern Europe, since the 18th century, attempts have already begun to propagate and grow citrus fruits in the open field.

The attractive appearance and wonderful taste of the new fruit plant, the orange, contributed to its rapid spread in Europe. And the orange passed into the category of elite fruits after the discovery of its effectiveness in the fight against various infections, such as scurvy, flu and even plague.

And although opinions about the first appearance of an orange in Europe differ, it is known for sure that the first orange tree was grown in Lisbon, after which the "orange boom" on the European continent could not be stopped. Oranges quickly spread throughout Sardinia and Sicily and further to Italy and other European countries. Not surprisingly, today the world's largest garden of 500 orange trees is located near the Italian city of Milisa.

Several centuries ago, the culture brought by the Portuguese to Europe is now growing well along the entire Mediterranean coast, as well as in Central America. Today, the orange has become one of the main fruit crops in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Currently, no wild forms of the orange have been found in modern habitats.

Read also articles Orange varieties, Useful properties of an orange.

Orange in Russia

Coat of arms of Oranienbaum

At the beginning of the 18th century, the fame of sunny miracle fruits reached Russia. Scientists believe that the first oranges came to Russia from Holland. Peter I himself gave a powerful impetus to the cultivation of citrus crops in Russia. While in Europe, the Russian autocrat got acquainted with these fruits and their agricultural technology. And if before Peter I, only ripe fruits were imported into Russia, then with him they began to lay greenhouses with citrus plants. To disseminate knowledge about these crops and experience in the agricultural technology of citrus fruits in greenhouses, they began to invite European gardeners to Russia.

In 1714, Prince A.D. Menshikov built a new palace with large greenhouses, in which they began to grow these fruits, and gave it a name in honor of the orange - Oranienbaum (from the German - orange tree). And after some time, Catherine II ordered to call this palace together with the settlement the city of Oranienbaum and dedicated the coat of arms to it: an orange orange tree on a silver background.

Prince Menshikov set the cultivation of citrus fruits in Russia on a grand scale. The best European gardeners in Oranienbaum passed on their experience to Russian gardeners. Oranienbaum's greenhouses and plant growing technologies were constantly being improved. And after Peter, even in the harshest Russian winters, orange and lemon fruits in the local greenhouses were harvested in whole carts, providing constant supplies to the imperial table.

Until the beginning of the 18th century in Russia, the orange bore different names: orange, Turkish (Persian) apple, naranj, oranzior - and only then it acquired its modern name.

Already at the end of the 18th century, there were many greenhouse greenhouses in the Russian Empire. Not only the highest nobility, but every landowner or merchant considered it a matter of honor to maintain a greenhouse with citrus plants on his estate. And tea drinking with lemon "of our own cultivation" has become just a primordial Russian tradition! Russia not only fully covered its own domestic needs, but also sent orange juicy fruits for export!

In the middle of the 19th century, tangerines began to appear everywhere in Russia, which entered the country as a result of several wars in the Caucasus and with Turkey. And at the very beginning of the 20th century, grapefruit also joined this citrus company.

In the Soviet Union, oranges began to appear relatively widely on store shelves during the reign of Nikita Khrushchev. In those years, only one variety of oranges was exported to our country - Jaffa from Israel.And although today we have the opportunity to buy almost all edible citrus fruits: lime, pomelo and many hybrid citrus fruits, it is orange, lemon and tangerine that are traditionally popular in Russian cuisine. It is this historical "citrus company" that invariably adorns every New Year's table in our country.

World leaders in orange production


The unchanging world leader in the production of oranges is Brazil, where 17.8 million tons of oranges are grown annually. Brazil's southeast coast, São Paulo County, grows more oranges than the next three countries in the global Orange Leadership ranking combined. With almost 99% of the region's fruit being exported, São Paulo is the world's orange juice giant. Orange juice is sold internationally as a frozen juice concentrate to reduce storage and shipping costs. São Paulo accounts for 80% of all Brazilian production and 53% of total global global production of frozen orange juice concentrate. The main orange varieties used for juice in Brazil are Hamlin, Pera Rio, Natal and Valencia. Most of the orange juice on the Russian market is made from Brazilian frozen concentrates.


Florida (USA) produces about half of Brazil's oranges, but most of Florida's orange juice is sold domestically.

Orange juice production in Sao Paulo and Florida accounts for approximately 85% of the global market. But Brazil exports 99% of its produce, while 90% of Florida's oranges are consumed in the United States.

But Spain impresses with the number of orange trees - over 35 million of them grow there. Following Brazil and the United States, China, India, Mexico, Egypt, Spain, and Turkey are leading in the export of oranges.

The largest supplier of oranges to Russia is Egypt, which accounts for more than half of all orange supplies to Russia, as well as Turkey, Morocco and South Africa.

Oranges are the most important citrus crop in Egypt, accounting for 65% of citrus production and 30% of total fruit production in that country. The most common varieties of oranges grown in Egypt: Navel and Sukkari table varieties, Valencia juice varieties, Baladi, Blood Orange. The largest supply season (half a year) is for Navel and Valencia (from October to March and from February to July, respectively). Sukkari and Baladi ship from December to March, Blood Orange (red oranges) from January to March.

Morocco also exports different varieties of oranges to our country (Navel, Salustiana, Sanguines, Maroc Late), the supply season lasts from November to June.

Oranges from South Africa are delivered to us mainly in the spring and summer months - from April to September.

The most popular variety of oranges in Turkey is the Washington variety, it is he who prevails in supplies to our country.

Oranges are grown today in the open field and in Georgia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, of course, not in such grandiose quantities. However, the area under this crop is tens of thousands of hectares.

Orange. Photo: Natalia Aristarkhova