What we grow - Biodiversity



Orange (Citrus sinensis) is a fruit tree belonging to the Rutaceae family, whose fruit is orange, sometimes called sweet orange to distinguish it from bitter orange. It is an ancient hybrid, the result of a cross over 4000 years ago between the pomelo and the tangerine. In 19th century literature, orange is sometimes called “portugal”. In Greek the orange is called “portocáli”, in Romanian “portocală”, in Albanian “portokall”, while even today in Arabic the word used to indicate oranges is “burtuqāl” (Which specifically indicates sweet orange), which it has completely supplanted the Persian word “nāranğ” (literally favorite fruit of elephants, which specifically meant bitter orange), from which it derives “orange” (“Naranja” in Spanish, “narancs” in Hungarian). In Basilicata and Calabria (In some areas they are called “portugalli”, as well as in the Tuscia of Viterbo, which also indicates the tangerine and grapefruit and other similar citrus fruits), in parts of Campania, Apulia (In the areas of Bari and Taranto they are called “marànge”) and from Abruzzo the oranges are called “purtualli” or “partajalli”, in Sicily they are called “partuàlli” or “arànciu”. In Piedmont they are called “portugaj”, in Bergamo “portogàl”, in Lodi “purtügàl”, in Ferrara “portogàl”, in Parma “partugàl”. In Veneto the orange is called “naransa”, in Lombardy “narânz”, in Friuli “narant”. Originally from China and Southeast Asia, this winter fruit was only imported into Europe in the 15th century by Portuguese sailors, while some ancient Roman texts mention it as early as the 1st century. The orange was grown in Sicily where it was called “melarancia”, which could mean that the fruit had reached Europe by land. Probably the orange actually arrived in Europe via the “silk road“, but cultivation began in Sicily, and only after a few centuries was it rediscovered by Portuguese sailors.


Orange is a tree with elongated and fleshy leaves and white flowers. Sprouts are always green, never reddish. The fruits are round and both the skin and the pulp are of the typical orange color. The peel is characterized by a slight roughness. The rest season of the orange is only three months, so it happens that the tree blooms and fructify at the same time. Orange is the most widespread citrus fruit in the world and hundreds of varieties are grown. Some fruits have blond pulp (Wild or bitter oranges, sweet oval varieties, “Navel” variety, so called due to the presence, in fact, of the navel in the lower part of the fruit), others have red pulp (Moro, tarocco and sanguinello varieties), both because of the anthocyanic pigments they contain (Mainly in the Catania Plain and neighboring hilly areas due to the presence of volcanic ash in the soil), with red skin due to the significant temperature variations between day and night, typical of the area, during the ripening season.


Orange is useful both for the peel (Very rich source of essences), and for the inside. In addition, its flowers are visited by bees, who collect nectar, producing a precious honey. The essential oil of sweet orange (“Essence of Portugal”) is a liquid that goes from yellow-orange to dark red, with the smell of the fresh peel of the fruit, it is used in the production of liqueurs and to flavor many detergents. The essence of orange blossom is obtained only from the flowers of the bitter orange (The word “Zagara”, indicating the orange blossom in Italian language, derives from the Arabic “zahra”, which precisely means “flower”). Oranges, in addition to the usual fresh consumption (Generally the larger oranges are intended for fresh consumption, while the smaller ones are ideal for juices, as they have a thinner peel and greater juice yield), are used in many recipes, especially of the Sicilian tradition, such as, for example, the orange salad, with onion, salt, extra-virgin olive oil and chilli, or the peel is often used to flavor dessert creams, grating it, or it can also be candied, as sometimes together with the pulp cut into slices, or for the realization of excellent marmalade. Orange flowers are used as floral arrangements for decorations.


Orange does not like cold climates, the ideal would be to grow it in areas with a warm climate characterized by mild winters. Already at 0°C the plant shows signs of suffering, but it can tolerate low temperatures quite well with good results. Excessive heat is also harmful, because temperatures of over 38°C, which occur especially in the early stages of fruit growth in early summer, can cause stunting. The suitable soil in general is rather loose, or sandy, even of medium texture, with subacid or slightly acid PH, while clayey and tending to compact soils are not positive, because water drainage is essential for orange. In citrus fruits, pollinators are not necessary, while the best form of cultivation is the free globe, which is a similar shape to the vase. Citrus fruits, being trees native to subtropical and tropical rainy areas, are species with high water requirements. The most critical phases are those between flowering and fruit set. Regarding fertilization, the orange is a productive species, and since we remove a lot with the harvest, the restoration of nutrients must be guaranteed. Every year, at the end of winter, when citrus fruits are in the period of maximum accumulation of reserve substances in the branches, it is necessary to administer a good organic fertilization, with constant and good natural fertilization is essential to prevent the alternation of production. As with other fruit species, the orange also suffers from water competition from spontaneous grass in the early stages of planting, benefiting from mulching, using different types of natural materials such as straw.