Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 | crankit

Which came first, the fruit or the colour?

Citrus sinensis, C.aurantium, C. reticulata


Oranges are a favourite fruit in mythology, having been identified as the Golden Apples that grew in the mythological garden of the Hesperides (probably the Canary Islands). Legend has it that the golden apple presented by Gaea, the ancient Greek goddess of the earth and fertility, as a wedding gift to Hera on the day she married Zeus, was in fact an orange. When the Moors invaded Spain in the 10th century, they brought oranges with them – a sacred fruit only to be used in religious rites, for medicinal purposes or as a flavouring in food and drink. The fruits were heavily guarded – so much so that any unauthorised person who ate or even touched an orange did so on pain of death. At the end of the Moors’ 500 year reign in Spain, the most valuable legacy left was the orange groves (Valencia and Seville oranges are but two memorable varieties).

Oranges have long been a symbol of love and fertility. The custom of using orange blossoms in wedding ceremonies dates back to Saracen brides, who wore orange blossoms on their wedding day. The blossoms were regarded as a symbol or prosperity and fecundity due to the fact that the orange tree bears ripe fruit and blossoms at the same time, and wearing the blossoms represented an appeal to the spirit of the orange tree that the bride should not be barren.

Oranges are native to China and the Far East and are a traditional Chinese symbol of good luck and prosperity – used today in Chinese New Year celebrations.

The earliest mention of citrus trees occurs in the Shu-King, believed to be edited by Confucius around 500 BC. Originally very small, bitter and full of seeds, the ‘modern’ orange is made up of over 200 varieties including Navel, Seville, Tangelos, Valencia, Mandarins, Blood and Bergamot.

Source of

Vitamins C and B6, bioflavonoids, potassium, limonene, thiamine, folic acid, calcium and iron.

Good for

Fighting infection and improving resistance to infection, as an antiseptic, aids digestion, is a stimulant on the peristaltic activity of the colon, fights heart disease and high blood pressure. Carminative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic.


Non-organic citrus are subjected to multiple heavy applications of a wide variety of potentially toxic chemicals. The US Dept of Pesticide Regulation lists more than 100 substances (including special nasties like methyl bromide, carbaryl) which may be used on citrus fruits. Post-harvest treatment of citrus with waxes and anti-fungals (of which around 90% are known carcinogens) are routine.

There are peer-reviewed papers reporting organically grown oranges have higher levels of vitamin C than non-organic counterparts.