The origin of the term orange is presumably the Dravidian languages, via the Sanskrit word for "orange tree", whose form has changed over time, after passing through numerous intermediate languages. The fruit is known as "Chinese apple" in several modern languages. Some examples are Dutch sinaasappel (literally, "China's apple") and appelsien, or Low German Apfelsine.
In the English language, however, “Chinese apple” usually refers to the pomegranate, rather than the orange fruit.
The orange (specifically, the sweet orange) is the fruit of the citrus species Citrus × sinensis in the family Rutaceae. The fruit of the Citrus sinensis is called sweet orange to distinguish it from that of the Citrus aurantium, the bitter orange. The orange is a hybrid, possibly between pomelo (Citrus maxima) and mandarin (Citrus reticulata), cultivated since ancient times.
Probably originating in Southeast Asia or India. Old manuscripts indicate oranges were already cultivated in China as far back as 2,500 BC. Arabo-phone peoples popularized sour citrus and oranges in Europe; Spaniards introduced the sweet orange to the American continent in the mid-1500s.
Orange trees are widely grown in tropical and subtropical climates for their sweet fruit, which can be eaten fresh or processed to obtain juice, and for the fragrant peel. They have been the most cultivated tree fruit in the world since 1987, and sweet oranges account for approximately 70% of the citrus production. In 2010, 68.3 million metric tons of oranges were grown worldwide, particularly in Brazil and in California and Florida.
All citrus trees belong to the single genus Citrus and remain almost entirely interfertile. This means that there is only one superspecies that includes grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges, and various other types and hybrids. As the interfertility of oranges and other citrus has produced numerous hybrids, bud unions, and cultivars, their taxonomy is fairly controversial, confusing or inconsistent.
Navel oranges are characterized by the growth of a second fruit at the apex, which protrudes slightly and resembles a human navel. They are primarily grown for human consumption for various reasons: their thicker skin make them easy to peel. Their widespread distribution and long growing season have made navel oranges very popular. In the United States, they are available from November to April, with peak supplies in January, February, and March.
The fruit of any citrus tree is considered a hesperidium (a kind of modified berry) because it has numerous seeds, is fleshy and soft, derives from a single ovary and is covered by a rind originated by a rugged thickening of the ovary wall.
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