Orange (fruit)

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Illustration: Citrus sinensis (L.) Histoire et culture des orangers A. Risso et A. Poiteau.  - Paris Henri Plon, editor, 1872.

Illustration: Citrus sinensis (L.) Histoire et culture des orangers A. Risso et A. Poiteau. - Paris Henri Plon, editor, 1872.

Eurosiden II
Order : Sapindales (Sapindales)
Family : Rhombus family (Rutaceae)
Genre : Citrus plants ( citrus )
Type : orange
Scientific name
Citrus sinensis

The orange (pronunciation: [ oˈʁaŋʒə ] or [ oˈʁɑ̃ːʒə ]), north of the Speyer line also called orange (from Low German appelsina , literally “apple from China / Sina ”), is an evergreen tree , and its fruit is also called that. The valid botanical name of the orange is Citrus  ×  sinensis L., so it belongs to the genus of citrus plants ( Citrus ) in the diamond family (Rutaceae). It comes from China or Southeast Asia, where it originated from a cross between mandarin ( Citrus reticulata ) and grapefruit ( Citrus maxima ).

The bitter orange , which originated from the same parent species, is distinguished from the sweet oranges because of their completely different use. While the bitter orange came to Italy in the 11th century at the latest, the sweet variant was only introduced to Europe in the 15th century , where it was initially grown almost exclusively in Portugal . The sweet orange is the most widely grown citrus fruit in the world.


Habit of the orange tree.

Vegetative characteristics

Orange trees are small to medium-sized, evergreen trees with heights of up to 10 meters. The round treetop has regular branches. The young twigs are angular and have thin, flexible, rather blunt thorns up to 8 cm long.

The alternate and spirally arranged (unifoliate) leaves on the branches are divided into a petiole and a leaf blade. The petiole is obovate, only slightly widened (winged), with a narrow base, 1 to 3 cm wide and 0.6 to 1.5 cm long. The leathery, thick, dark green leaf blade is clearly separated from the leaf stalk, with a rounded leaf base, oval and pointed.

The cotyledons ( cotyledons ) are milky white.

Orange blossom and bud
Orange blossom and orange.
Plantation in Brazil
Freshly picked oranges

Generative characteristics

The flowers are individually in the leaf axils or in little-flowered, racemose inflorescences . The fragrant flowers are radially symmetrical and hermaphroditic or purely masculine with double perianth . The four or five sepals are fused. The five free petals are colored white. There are 20 to 25 stamens , the stamens of which are fused into several groups at their base. The ovary is oval and clearly from the pen sold. In Europe the orange blooms from February to June, in China from April to May.

Orange trees develop - like many other citrus - even without pollination fruits . In the fruit ( Hesperidium ) the sarcocarp of ten is to thirteen segments with juice sacs are sometimes yellow filled mostly orange until red color. Each segment is surrounded by a thin membrane ( endocarp ), the whole fruit by a two-part shell. The inner layer of the shell is white ( mesocarp , albedo), while the outer layer is orange or green ( exocarp , flavedo) when ripe . There are numerous oil glands in the ripe fruit skin, they give off an aromatic scent. The peel and segments are fused together, the fruit is more difficult to peel or divide than other citrus fruits. In contrast to the bitter orange, the central axis of the fruit is not hollow. Each fruit contains many seeds. The large, oval seeds have a rough seed coat and a white interior. Each seed contains one to many embryos of different sizes. In China, the fruits ripen from September to December.

The basic number of chromosomes is n = 9; in addition to diploid forms, polyploid forms also occur.

Color and quality of the fruit

In regions with warm tropical nights and high humidity, the fruits remain green during ripening. The color orange is not a sign of maturity. Since many consumers consider the green color to be an immature mark, the green fruits are usually de-greened before they are sold by exposure to ethylene gas , which destroys the green chlorophyll in the skin. The resulting quality losses are accepted for the sake of better marketing.

The EU marketing standard for citrus fruits stipulates that the color of oranges must be typical of the variety. A maximum of one fifth of the shell may be colored light green. However, more than a fifth of the peel of oranges that are grown in areas where high air temperatures and high relative humidity prevail during the development period may be green. (In addition, all oranges must have a minimum juice content of 30% to 45%, depending on the variety.) De-greening is permitted in the EU.


The name orange comes from the Arabic auranja and Spanish naranja via Old Provencal ( nārandsch  / نارنج), which in turn uses the Persian ( nārendsch /نارنج, and nāreng /نارنگ) and Sanskrit ञरंगः nāranga goes back to a Dravidian word (cf. Tamil nāram ). When borrowing from Spanish into other Romance languages, the n- was replaced by other initial consonants ( Portuguese laranja , Catalan taronja ) and was finally lost (French orange ; Provençal irange ; Italian: arancia ). In Arabic today the orange is called burtuqāl  /برتقال(from "Portugal"), while nārandsch  /نارنجstands for bitter orange. Similarly, in Modern Greek, the bitter νεράντζι nerantsi is differentiated from the sweet πορτοκάλι portokali . The color orange is named after the fruit.

The name orange is derived from apple-sine, Chinese apple (cf. Dutch sinaasappel "China's apple"). Until the middle of the 20th century there was still a clear division in linguistic usage - north of the Main , in the Rhine Palatinate and in eastern Germany the fruit was called "orange". In the meantime, the lead form “orange” is gaining ground, presumably because this name sounds “finer”. The large north German fruit juice manufacturer riha uses the name orange juice when the juice contains pulp.

It was first described under the name Citrus aurantium in 1793 by Carl von Linné in Species Plantarum , 2, pp. 782-783. It was recognized that it is a hybrid and that Citrus × aurantium is correct and therefore valid. There are a large number of synonyms : Aurantium × acre Mill., Aurantium × corniculatum Mill., Aurantium × distortum Mill., Aurantium × humile Miller, Aurantium × myrtifolium escourtilz, Aurantium × sinense Miller, Aurantium × vulgare (Risso) M.Gómez , Citrus × amara Link, Citrus × aurantium subsp. amara Engler, Citrus × aurantium var. bigaradia (Loiseleur) Brandis, Citrus × aurantium var. crassa Risso, Citrus × aurantium var. daidai Makino, Citrus × aurantium var. dulcis Hayne, Citrus × aurantium var. fetifera Risso, Citrus × aurantium var . lusitanica Risso, Citrus × aurantium var. myrtifolia Ker Gawler, Citrus × aurantium subf. nobilis (Lour.) Hiroe, Citrus × aurantium var. sanguinea Engler, Citrus × aurantium subf. sinensis (L.) Hiroe, Citrus × aurantium subsp. sinensis (L.) Engler, Citrus × aurantium var. sinensis L., Citrus × aurantium subsp. suntara Engler, Citrus × aurantium var. vulgaris (Risso) Risso & Poiteau, Citrus × aurata Risso, Citrus × bigaradia Loiseleur, Citrus × changshan-huyou YBChang, Citrus × communis Poiteau & Turpin, Citrus decumana (L.) L. var. paradisi (Macfadyen) HHANicholls, Citrus × dulcis Persoon, Citrus × florida Salisbury, Citrus × humilis (Mill.) Poiret, Citrus maxima (Burman) Merrill var. uvacarpa Merrill, Citrus × myrtifolia (Ker Gawler) Raf., Citrus × paradisi Macfadyen , Citrus × sinensis (L.) Osbeck, Citrus × sinensis var. Brasiliensis Tanaka, Citrus × sinensis subsp. crassa (Risso) Rivera et al., Citrus x sinensis subsp. fetifera (Risso) Rivera et al., Citrus × sinensis subsp. lusitanica (Risso) Rivera et al., Citrus × sinensis var. sanguinea (Engler) Engler, Citrus × sinensis var. sekkan Hayata, Citrus × sinensis subsp. suntara (Engler) Engler, Citrus × taiwanica Tanaka & Shimada; Citrus × tangelo Ingram & HEMoore, Citrus × vulgaris Risso. The specific epithet sinensis means "Chinese".


The orange cannot be detected in Europe before the 15th century - in contrast to the similar bitter orange , which had already come to Europe by land in the Middle Ages. Even if there are indications of sweet oranges for an earlier point in time, the quality only seems to have increased significantly from 1500 onwards, due to the introduction of better varieties by the Portuguese who spread them in Europe after the discovery of the sea route to India. So reports Vasco da Gama in 1498, he had in Mombasa much better than those known in Portugal at the time, saw very good oranges. The connection between sweet oranges and Portugal, which is reflected in the naming in several languages, was possibly promoted by the story that the one, original and originally introduced tree still stood in Lisbon for centuries.


Orange and its juice: classic vitamin C supplier

In Europe , oranges are harvested from August (early varieties from Seville) to May (late varieties from Tardivo di Sanvito, Sardinia). The most important orange product in world trade is orange juice , which mostly comes from Brazil and is traded in the form of concentrate ( syrup ). Fresh oranges have also firmly established themselves in the food scene in numerous countries. Formerly as protection, today for advertising purposes oranges are often wrapped in orange paper and offered for sale.

The orange also serves as a source of fragrances: the terpene d- limonene is extracted from the orange peel , which is used in a variety of ways as a biogenic solvent and raw material for the perfume industry . The noble smelling neroli oil is obtained by steam distillation of the orange blossoms, whereby mostly not the blossoms of Citrus sinensis , but those of the bitter orange ( Citrus × aurantium ) are used.

Wafer-thin, bitter-free orange peel, as needed to flavor many dishes, can be made with a zester (sometimes also called zester ). Dried orange peel is also often found in tea blends . The flowers can also be made into a tea.

Orange slices, flowers and peels are also used to decorate food and drinks (orange twist ).


Blood oranges
Different types of oranges: "Navels" (yellow), origin South Africa and "Valencia Late" (orange), origin Spain

The oranges are divided into bitter oranges (bitter oranges) and four groups of sweet oranges, the blonde oranges (also: round oranges), the navel oranges (also: navel oranges), the pigmented oranges (blood and half-blood oranges) and the acid-free oranges.

  • Blonde oranges (most important group)
  • Navel oranges (originally native to Brazil), also called Bahia oranges . Its characteristic is a protuberance at the flower pole, where - starting from another, smaller carpel circle - a second, mostly underdeveloped daughter fruit has formed.
    • 'Washington NewHal', recognizable by the large protuberances at the top and often huge fruit size, mostly declared as Navelina
    • 'Cara Cara', a selection of 'Bahia' with red pulp (mostly declared as Washington Sanguine), coming from California and Spain, are often confused with blood oranges
    • 'Navelina', a Spanish selection in all fruit sizes with almost no daughter fruit.
    • 'Salustiana', small-caliber fruit with a thin skin, ideal for pressing
    • 'Navelate', a late ripening Spanish selection, very sweet
    • 'NavelLaneLate', before the 'Valencia Late', the latest of the Navel oranges
    • 'Powell Navel', a late ripening very sweet orange
  • Blood oranges (because of the deep red flesh, with some varieties also because of the skin). The red color of the pulp is caused by anthocyanins in the pigments of the pulp and skin and occurs in dry areas with large daily temperature differences ( night frosts ). The Moro oranges, for example, grow on the slopes of the Etna volcano in Sicily .
    • 'Sanguine' (round blood)
    • 'Double fine' (blood oval)
    • 'Moro'
    • 'Tarocco'
    • 'Sanguinello'
    • 'Manica'
    • La Maltaise Sanguine
  • The citrus fruits, often incorrectly called acid-free oranges (also native to India), are precocious green, partly yellow-skinned sweet limes ( Citrus Limetta ), which are sweeter but less aromatic due to their low acid content. This variety is harvested in late autumn to winter.
    • 'Mozambi'


Fruit body / fruit juice

The phytonutrient content in 100 g of sweet orange pulp is around

Important natural flavoring substances in orange juice are, for example, acetaldehyde , hexanal , octanal , nonanal , decanal , ethyl 2-methylbutyrate , ( R ) -limonene , myrcene and ( R ) -α-pinene . The composition of the aromas varies considerably depending on the type of orange. This applies, for example, to ethyl acetate , ethyl propanoate , ( S ) -linalool , ethyl 2-methylpropanoate , 1-penten-3-one , ethyl butanoate , 3-isopropyl-2-methoxy-pyrazine , ( R ) -methyl-3-hydroxyhexanoate as well as 2- and 3-methylbutyric acid . Many of the esters are only found in orange juice, but not in orange peel oil.

After dehydration, both fibers and antioxidants can be changed in quality and quantity, depending on the duration or temperature (30 ° C versus 90 ° C) of the air drying.

Fruit bowl

The peel of oranges is often treated with waxes , which (except in organic farming ) usually contain preservatives such as thiabendazole (E 233), orthophenylphenol (E 231), sodium orthophenylphenol (E 232), biphenyl (E 230, no longer allowed in the EU) and Imazalil can be added.


The seeds of the sweet oranges, peeled or unpeeled, contained about 54.2% fat , 28.5% carbohydrates , 5.5% fiber, 3.1% protein and 2.5% ash content (minerals) in the unpeeled seeds , each based on dry matter . Calcium and potassium dominated among the minerals .

Economical meaning

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO, world production was 75.4 million tons of oranges in 2018. The following table gives an overview of the 20 most important orange-growing countries, which together produced 90.4% of the global total. The largest European producers were Spain, Italy and Greece.

Largest orange producers (2018)
rank country Quantity
(in t )
  rank country Quantity
(in t)
1 BrazilBrazil Brazil 16,713,534 11 South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa 1,775,760
2 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 9,103,908 12 PakistanPakistan Pakistan 1,589,856
3 IndiaIndia India 8,367,000 13 ItalyItaly Italy 1,522,213
4th United StatesUnited States United States 4,833,480 14th AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria 1,134,194
5 MexicoMexico Mexico 4,737,990 15th MoroccoMorocco Morocco 1,019,150
6th SpainSpain Spain 3,639,853 16 ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 1,006,779
7th EgyptEgypt Egypt 3,246,483 17th GreeceGreece Greece 913,000
8th IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 2,510,442 18th VietnamVietnam Vietnam 852.685
9 TurkeyTurkey Turkey 1,900,000 19th GhanaGhana Ghana 753.213
10 IranIran Iran 1,889,252 20th SyriaSyria Syria 693,000
world 75.413.375


  • Dianxiang Zhang & David J. Mabberley: Citrus in der Flora of China , Volume 11, 2008, p. 95: Citrus × aurantium - Online. (Section description and systematics)
  • W. Reuther, HJ Webber, LD Batchelor (Eds.): The Citrus Industry. Vol. 1 & 2. University of California. Berkeley 1967.
  • L. Ramón-Laca: The Introduction of Cultivated Citrus to Europe via Northern Africa and the Iberian Peninsula . In: Economic Botany , New York, 57, 4, 2003, pp. 502-514. ISSN  0013-0001
  • Orange . In: Mark Giles: Encyclopedia of Jewish Food . Wiley 2010, ISBN 978-0-470-39130-3 , pp. 429-430
  • Pierre Lazlo: Citrus: A History . University of Chicago Press 2008, ISBN 978-0-226-47028-3 .


  • Squeezed out and gutted. The bitter business with oranges. Documentary, Germany, 2013, 28:50 min., Script and direction: Stefan Hanf and Anja Utfeld, production: ZDF , series: ZDFzoom , first broadcast: January 29, 2014 on ZDF, table of contents and online video from ZDF. “How is it possible to produce oranges and citrus fruits so cheaply? And what role do the large German retail chains play? "

Web links

Wiktionary: Orange  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Orange  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Commons : Orange ( Citrus sinensis )  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Distribution map of the words orange and orange
  2. E. Nicolosi et al .: Citrus phylogeny and genetic origin of important species as investigated by molecular markers . In: Theoretical and Applied Genetics. Berlin 100, 8, 2000, pp. 1155-1166. ISSN  0040-5752
  3. Udo Pollmer: Orange red and lemon yellow - when are the citrus fruits really ripe? Retrieved January 5, 2013 .
  4. ^ W. Grierson, WF Newhall: Degreening_of_Florida_Citrus_Fruits. (PDF; 11.6 MB) Retrieved January 5, 2013 .
  5. Ulrike Bickelmann: Greening citrus fruits - a curse or a blessing for the quality. In: Protocol. 26th International Conference on Quality Control of Fruit & Vegetables. March 05 - March 07, 2007. Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food, Bonn 2007, pp. 66–69 ( PDF )
  6. Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 543/2011 of the Commission of 7 June 2011 with implementing provisions for Regulation (EC) No. 1234/2007 of the Council for the fruit and vegetable and processed fruit and vegetable sectors , accessed on August 20, 2020 , Annex I, Part B, Part 2, Official Journal of the EU L 157
  7. orange. In: Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd Edition. Oxford 1989. ISBN 0-19-861186-2
  8. Helmut Genaust: Etymological dictionary of botanical plant names. 3rd, completely revised and expanded edition. Nikol, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-937872-16-7 (reprint from 1996).
  9. ^ H. Marzell: Dictionary of German plant names. S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1943.
  10. Second round: Results - Orange / Orange. Atlas of everyday German language (AdA). University of Augsburg, Phil.-Hist. Faculty. Augsburg November 10, 2005. (online)
  11. Carl von Linné: Species Plantarum , 2, 1753, pp. 782–783 scanned at
  12. ^ A. Herculaneo: Roteiro da viagem de Vasco da Gama en MCCCCXCVII . Imprenta Nacional, Lisboa 1861. Quoted in Ramón-Laca, 2003.
  13. ^ P. Spiegel-Roy, EE Goldschmidt: The Biology of Citrus . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003, p. 8. ISBN 0-521-33321-0 .
  14. Sweet oranges and their hybrids Comprehensive listing of orange varieties from the University of California, Riverside .
  15. How the blood gets into the orange (, March 19, 2012).
  16. a b c d e f g h i D. E. Okwu, IN Emenike: Evaluation of the phytonutrients and vitamin contents of citrus fruits. In: Int. J. Mol. Med. Adv. Sci. 2, No. 1, 2006, pp. 1-6 ( PDF ).
  17. Andrea Büttner: Important aromas in freshly squeezed citrus fruit juices . Herbert Utz Verlag, 1999, ISBN 978-3-89675-523-0 , p. 80.84 f . ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  18. M. Carme Garau, Susana Simal, Carmen Rosselló, Antoni Femenia: Effect of air-drying temperature on physico-chemical properties of dietary fiber and antioxidant capacity of orange (Citrus aurantium v. Canoneta) by-products. In: Food Chemistry , 104, No. 3, 2007, pp. 1014-1024, doi : 10.1016 / j.foodchem.2007.01.009 .
  19. M. Akpata, P. Akubor: Chemical composition and selected functional properties of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) seed flour. In: Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 54, No. 4, December 1999, pp. 353-362, doi : 10.1023 / A: 1008153228280 (PDF).
  20. a b Crops> Oranges. In: FAO production statistics 2018., accessed on March 13, 2020 (English).