A globose berry with a yellowish to reddish-orange rind and a sweet edible pulpb : any of various small evergreen citrus trees (genus Citrus) with glossy ovate leaves, hard yellow wood, fragrant white flowers, and fruits that are oranges, any of several trees or fruits resembling the orange, any of a group of colors that are between red and yellow in hue
The fruit of the Citrus × sinensis is considered a sweet orange, whereas the fruit of the Citrus × aurantium is considered a bitter orange. The sweet orange reproduces asexually (apomixis through nucellar embryony); varieties of sweet orange arise through mutations.
The orange is a hybrid, between pomelo (Citrus maxima) and mandarin (Citrus reticulata). It has genes that are ~25% pomelo and ~75% mandarin; however, it is not a simple backcrossed BC1 hybrid, but hybridized over multiple generations. The chloroplast genes, and therefore the maternal line, seem to be pomelo. The sweet orange has had its full genome sequenced. Earlier estimates of the percentage of pomelo genes varying from ~50% to 6% have been reported.
Sweet oranges were mentioned in Chinese literature in 314 BC. As of 1987, orange trees were found to be the most cultivated fruit tree in the world. Orange trees are widely grown in tropical and subtropical climates for their sweet fruit. The fruit of the orange tree can be eaten fresh, or processed for its juice or fragrant peel. As of 2012, sweet oranges accounted for approximately 70% of citrus production.
The orange tree is branched with a rounded crown and possesses elliptical or oval leaves which are alternately arranged on the branches. The leaves have narrowly winged petioles, a feature that distinguishes it from bitter orange, which has broadly winged petioles. The tree produces white flowers singly or clustered on a raceme. The fruit is a spherical berry with a green-yellow to orange skin covered in indented glands and a segmented pulpy flesh and several seeds. Orange trees can grow to a height of 6–15 m (16–49 ft) and can live for periods in excess of 100 years. Most plantations have an economic lifespan of around 30 years. Orange may also be referred to as sweet orange or navel orange and is believed to have originated from a wild ancestor in the border between Vietnam and China.
Uses : Oranges can be consumed as a fresh fruit and are commonly pressed or squeezed to produce orange juice.
Medicinal Uses : Oranges are eaten to allay fever and catarrh. The roasted pulp is prepared as a poultice for skin diseases. The fresh peel is rubbed on acne. In the mid-1950s, the health benefits of eating peeled, whole oranges was much publicized because of its protopectin, bioflavonoids and inositol (related to vitamin B). The orange contains a significant amount of the vitamin-like glucoside, hesperidin, 75-80% of it in the albedo, rag and pulp. This principle, also rutin, and other bioflavonoids were for a while much advocated for treating capillary fragility, hemorrhages and other physiological problems, but they are no longer approved for such use in the United States.
An infusion of the immature fruit is taken to relieve stomach and intestinal complaints. The flowers are employed medicinally by the Chinese people living in Malaya. Orange flower water, made in Italy and France as a cologne, is bitter and considered antispasmodic and sedative. A decoction of the dried leaves and flowers is given in Italy as an antispasmodic, cardiac sedative, antiemetic, digestive and remedy for flatulence. The inner bark, macerated and infused in wine, is taken as a tonic and carminative. A vinous decoction of husked orange seeds is prescribed for urinary ailments in China and the juice of fresh orange leaves or a decoction of the dried leaves may be taken as a carminative or emmenagogue or applied on sores and ulcers. An orange seed extract is given as a treatment for malaria in Ecuador but it is known to cause respiratory depression and a strong contraction of the spleen.
Health benefits : The health benefits of eating oranges have been known for centuries. The benefits of oranges are not just restricted to the high content of vitamin C in them; oranges are also a good source of beta carotene, a potent antioxidant that prevents free radicle damage, magnesium for blood pressure, potassium for cardio-vascular health, and thiamin for converting food to energy. It is also rich in dietary fiber and contains in folates, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, vitamins A, E and K, and phytonutrients. Here’s a breakdown of some of benefits of oranges.
- Folates in oranges helps prevent birth defects and is good for the heart.
- One orange provides about 7% of the daily requirement of potassium needed of the body.
- Pectin found in oranges helps suppress hunger and is therefore beneficial for dieters. Dieters are also benefitted by its fiber content.
- Oranges are excellent to remove phlegm and clear the congestion in the nasal and chest passages.
- Oranges are an effective diuretic and laxative, helping in flushing out toxins from the bladder; it also cleanses the stomach and intestines and is good for indigestion and flatulence.
- Oranges help in healing of cuts and injuries as well as in the management of skin conditions.
- In addition, orange peels are used to clear, detoxify, and tone the skin and have found widespread use in skin care products.
- Oranges strengthen the nerves and can help combat stress.
- Oranges can be effective in fighting venereal and sexually transmitted diseases.
- The efficacy of oranges in relation to cancer is being researched.