Origin of the orange

Citrus aurantium

Do you remember that time your mother or father gave you a taste of fresh orange juice for the first time? That flavor that is not quite bitter but not sweet either, that quenches your thirst as well as water does, and that also nourishes you by providing your body with the much-needed vitamin C to keep your immune system healthy.

But Have you ever wondered what the origin of the orange is, and who was the first to grow it? Well, here you will get the answers to these and other questions related to the evolution of one of the best-selling edible fruits in the world.

It all started ... in China


It all started, it is believed, in China, where citrus has been cultivated for thousands of years, which is the first citrus that Europeans would know. Thanks to the Silk Road, which was a network of trade routes organized from the XNUMXst century BC. C. that connected China with Mongolia, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Europe and Africa, sour began to spread throughout the East. In 1178 a. C., Han Yen-chih, wrote a very complete work on the 27 different varieties of citrons that were cultivated at that time, among them the sweet and bitter orange, the kumquat, and the mandarin. 

But how it got into Europe is a mystery. However, towards the XNUMXth century there are already references that it had already been established in the Old Continent. Still, it may have spread like sour, that is, through the Silk Road. Although it is the most plausible theory, it cannot be proven at the moment.

How did the orange get to Spain?


Surely from the hand of the Arabs. Towards the second half of the twelfth century, the Sevillian Arab Abuzacaría Abenalawan, wrote Quitab el Fellaha, or Book of Agriculture, in which he deals with the cultivation of various citrus, like the orange tree or the lemon tree, implying that at that time they were well-known plants. In addition, he wrote a Rural Calendar for Andalusia, and in particular for Seville, where he indicates what monthly tasks must be carried out in order to have a well-cared-for orange tree. Even so, the success of the orange tree in Spanish territory was rather regional.

It was not until 1825 that it began to be cultivated in Castellón, Villareal, and later in Burriana and Almazora. Shortly after, ships from Catalonia and Mallorca arrived in these regions to load it in bulk and transport it to Tarragona, Barcelona and the south of France.

The production rhythm stopped between 1834 and 1840 due to a Civil War. Still nothing lasts forever, and from 1845 orange trees were planted along the coast, both to the North and to the South, so that the entire peninsula was finally able to taste these fruits. So many oranges were produced, that a few years later, in 1850, they began to export them to the United Kingdom.

In Castellón, during the decade 1860-1870, the citrus growing extension. Lands that until then had been used to grow wheat and hemp, became land of orange, lemon, and other similar trees. And towards the end of the XNUMXth century and the beginning of the XNUMXth, due to industrialization and the improvement of means of transport, what was so longed for occurred: the rise of citrus fruits. People, having a better quality of life, consumed more, and being able to move more quickly, the fruits arrived much fresher, which pleased the consumer, who bought again.

Orange growing crisis

Cut oranges

During the First World War, production fell again. Consumption in belligerent countries was restricted, causing prices to fall, while production costs remained intact, thus during these years one of the worst crises to date was experienced. When the war ended, production was recovered, but as a result of the economic crisis of 1929-1930, the expansion of cultivation was stopped again. The situation worsened even more with the Spanish Civil War, and with the Second World War. It was so bad that it almost stopped producing.

And so we come to today. There are no wars to prevent its cultivation, but the sector has not finished recovering. More are produced than are sold, so the price drops.

Curiosities of the orange tree

Citrus aurantium

The orange tree is a very ornamental citrus, cultivated for several thousand years, as we have seen. But, did you know that it has several uses? Already in 310 a. C., their interesting medicinal propertiesThese are:

  • Helps calm nerves, and reduce stress.
  • Low tension.
  • Fight insomnia.
  • Fight and prevent flu and respiratory problems, such as a sore throat.
  • Strengthens the immune system.

So nothing, do you dare to have an orange tree? 🙂

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