Scientific name: Citrus sinensis
Οrange comes from China and until the Middle Ages it was an important medicinal plant of the Arabs. The Chinese medicine uses mostly the bitter orange (citrus aurantium). In Greek mythology, the golden apples that Hercules stole from the garden of the Hesperides were believed to be oranges. In Europe, however, the plant became known after 1490 when it was brought over by Portuguese explorers, who are also responsible for lending it its name. Until today, orange is a symbol of fertility and its flower a symbol of happy marriage.
Οrange is a small evergreen tree that reaches up to 8 meters. The trunk is smooth with even moderate size broad leaves, which have winged stems. The flowers are white, fragrant, with five petals. The fruit is a spherical, yellow-orange in colour with sugary or light sour juice.
Orange does not withstand freezing temperatures so it is grown in tropical to temperate zones where winters are milder. It flowers in April and blooming lasts for about twenty days. The fine and sweet aroma of flowers attracts many bees and other insects that assist in pollination and fruiting. The fruits ripen in different seasons depending on the variety and are rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, magnesium, folic acid (vitamin B9), which aids in the good function of the vascular system, potassium, thiamin (B2), citric acid and a variety of other valuable components and fibre.
The leaves, flowers and fruit peel give different essential oils, all with valuable properties. Essential oils of leaves and flowers are extracted by distillation. Essential oils in the peel of the fruit are found in tiny gland, and are extracted by cold pressing and cause a stingy sensation when they come in contact with the eyes.
Usage since antiquity:
The ancient Greeks and Romans seem to know the fruit, but the spread of its use began in the 17th century.
In China though, since antiquity until today, they use the fresh unripe fruit (ging pi) and dried fruit (Chen pi) as a digestive aid as well as an expectorant.
Orange and orange juice is present in surveys conducted in recent decades listing their ingredients as providers of protection from many diseases due to their antioxidant properties. The fruit also stimulates digestion and increases blood pressure acting as a stimulant and energy booster.
The essential oil of orange is ideal as a massage aid for nervous conditions and digestive disorders; it is useful for insomnia and shock as well. It is also antiseptic and antidepressant (mostly neroli oil).
The antioxidant action also helps combat premature aging of the skin, giving it shine and elasticity. The antiseptic action of the essential oil combats acne and oiliness. The aroma is relaxing and refreshing, helps headaches and anxiety, improves mood and helps fight constipation.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight after using the essential oil.