Citrus sinensis, commonly known as orange or sweet orange, is a small evergreen tree belonging to Rue family Rutaceae. The plant is native to south East Asia from southern China but is today grown commercially worldwide in tropical, semi-tropical and some warm temperate regions to become the most widely planted fruit tree in the world.
It is not a naturally occurring species. Based on genetic analysis, most experts agree that this is a hybrid plant resulting from a purposeful cross between a hybrid mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) and a hybrid pomelo (Citrus maxima). Exactly when and where this cross took place is not fully understood, although some evidence suggests southern China may be the point of origin.
Valencia orange, Navel orange, Orange, Sweet orange, are few of the popular common names of the plant. Genus name is from classical Latin. The specific epithet sinensis means “from China”, and refers to the center of early domestication of this plant. The common name orange entered the English language via the Old French orenge, a derivative of the Arabic name for this plant nāranj.
Orange Plant Description
Navel Orange is a small, shallow-rooted evergreen shrub or tree that grows about 7.5 m high and in some cases up to 15 m with an enclosed conical top and mostly spiny branch. The plant is found growing in fertile, light to medium, well-drained, deep, loose loams; soils with a high water table should be avoided. The species is sensitive to excess salts; pH range of 5-8 is preferred. The tree is commonly cultivated for its fruit in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical zones. It prefers a prominent change in the seasons and so is not so suited to the tropics, where it is grown more as a garden tree, but is widely grown commercially in the subtropics. Twigs are angled when young, often with thick spines.
Slender spines may be found at the leaf axils, particularly on new growth. The glossy, aromatic leaves are alternate, with narrowly winged-petioles and are 6.5-15 cm long and 2.5-9.5 cm wide; the shape of blades ranges from elliptical, oblong to oval, bluntly toothed and they emit a strong characteristic citrus odor due to the presence of copious oil. Their petioles are winged.
Flowers are white, fragrant. Petals are hairless, about 1.6-1.8 cm long and 6-7 mm wide, oil dots are yellowish, large and prominent, readily visible to the naked eye on the outer surface of the petals. Stamens are about 22-25, staminal filaments about 0.8-1.0 cm long. Disk is at the base of the ovary, inside the whorl of staminal filaments. Flowering normally takes place from March and May.
Fertile flowers are followed by depressed globular to patelliform fruit, about 7-11 cm in diameter, surface smooth or slightly pitted. Fruit consists of two distinct regions, the pericarp also called the peel, skin or rind, and the endocarp, or pulp and juice sacs. The skin consists of an epidermis of epicuticular wax with numerous small aromatic oil glands that gives it its particular smell. They are green when young ripens to orange or yellow. The flesh or pulp of the fruit is typically juicy and sweet, divided into 10 to 14 segments (although there are seedless varieties) and ranges in color from yellow to orange to red. Seeds are few to several, cuneate-ovoid with rough-marginate plane surfaces, white inside, and polyembryonic.
History of Oranges
The origin of sweet orange is rather unclear, but it is probably native to southern China and Vietnam as the plant has been cultivated in those countries for thousands of years. The tree was first brought to Europe after the year 1400 and much later to America. Today it is the most cultivated citrus fruit in the world and 70% of all citrus fruits are oranges. More than 40 million tones are produced each year, mostly in Brazil, USA, China, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
Health benefits of Navel Oranges
Navel oranges are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat, filled with Vitamin C, fiber, potassium and low in calories. Consuming navel oranges more often may protect against heart disease, cancer and diabetes while also helping to improve memory, blood pressure, immune system and overall health. Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of Navel oranges
1. Helps Prevent Cancer
Navel oranges are wonderful sources of both Vitamin C and hesperidin. These two antioxidants are recognized to help prevent the formation of free radicals – which are known to cause cancer. Vitamin C content is particularly important because a lack of Vitamin C has been shown to help tumors survive. So if you want to help prevent cancer, make sure you eat an orange.
2. Control Your Diabetes
Navel oranges are a great source of fiber! This can help lower your cholesterol which in turn helps make your diabetes easier to control. Additionally, researches have shown that if you’re a Type I diabetic, consuming a high-fiber diet helps lower your overall glucose levels. And for Type II diabetics, it can improve your blood sugars and insulin levels.
Not only that, but getting so much fiber improves your digestion and helps you feel fuller longer. Meaning you’re less likely to attack the pantry for sugary and unhealthy snacks.
3. Heart Healthy
Navel oranges are high in potassium. And an increase in potassium can help support heart health and decrease the risk of things like stroke and heart attacks. Potassium also decreases your risk of heart disease.
Additionally, navel oranges help lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure, which is great for your heart health and for preventing heart problems.
4. Better Skin
Navel oranges are good for your skin, helping to protect from skin damage caused by the sun and pollution. They also reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.
And, as mentioned earlier, Vitamin C helps increase collagen production, which is important for keeping your skin healthy and wrinkle-free.