Without a doubt, oranges have to be one of the kings of the citrus world. They can come in all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of tastes and textures hidden under that bright orange skin.
Whether eaten straight from the tree, thrown into your cooking for your preservatives, tarts, and sorbets, or squeezed into a sweet fruit juice. Oranges are a staple of our favorite sweet treats.
Interestingly, there is no such thing as a wild orange. Cultivated from a hybrid of mandarin and pomelo plants, these sweet treats have only been possible to grow because of their cultivation by human cultures throughout time.
First grown in South China, records going back to the first millennium BC, oranges have since gone on to be grown in countries around the world, from Spain to Portugal, from the United States to India.
By the end of the 20th century, it was estimated that oranges were the most cultivated fruit tree on the planet. That’s quite a climb to the top of the food chain for such a new little fruit!
Oranges have a huge range of flavors buried inside them. Sometimes they’re sweet. Sometimes they’re sour, like their citrus cousins lemons and limes.
They can be a bitter fruit, a great way to wake up if you’re feeling run down. Oranges have got a serious variety to them.
Which can make it difficult to differentiate the kinds of orange trees out there, what trees go with what plants, where do they grow best. There’s a lot of information out there for a lot of different plants.
That is why we have compiled this list of different types of orange plants. We’ll discuss details like where they come from, what their trees are like, what conditions they grow in.
And, of course, we’ll talk about the oranges themselves, their textures, their flavors, as well as any extra information you might find helpful.
Now, let’s go orange hunting!
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Despite having been named after the Spanish city, Valencia does not come from Spain. They are actually grown in Spain during the early to mid 19th century, in what would later become California.
A subtropical plant like most oranges, the Valencia orange plant prefers areas of high rainfall, although higher humidity climates will make the oranges the tree bears sourer when the fruiting season comes.
Drier climates in full sunlight will usually be somewhat sweeter, with a more intense orange color in its skin.
Valencia oranges were bred to emulate the sweetness of Spanish oranges, which means that the Valencia orange itself is a very sweet variety of orange with anywhere between 0-9 seeds per fruit, and are very popular in the sweet fruit market.
Although Valencia orange trees can survive brief periods of cold weather for a few hours, the fruits will be ruined should they go below 25° Fahrenheit.
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Arguably the orange hat came before oranges, mandarin oranges are what were crossbred with pomelo fruit, the ancestor of modern grapefruits, to create the orange we all know and love today.
Originally hailing from South China and North India, they are now grown across the world along with their larger orange descendants.
The trees for this orange fruit tend to be of a medium tree size, and grow in most subtropical areas around the world, and can be grown from seed or from a root cutting.
It is recommended that you allow your seedling to grow indoors before you plant it outside but can be grown in a large pot once they have reached a large enough size.
The mandarin fruit tends to be smaller than its other orange counterparts, but the skin is much easier to peel than most other types of orange, and contain generally fewer seeds than other citrus fruit.
It’s for these reasons and more that mandarins are a popular snack across the world, or as part of desserts, salads, or preserved in sealed containers as a long-lived sweet food.
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Probably one of the most common types of sweet orange you will find on the market, the origins of the Navel orange are somewhat of a mystery. Reportedly, it is a mutation from a Selecta orange plant in Brazil, that grew a second fruit within its skin.
The Navel orange tree grows well in warmer subtropical temperatures, although cutting should be grown at cooler times before hot seasons, so you can maximize the amount of growth it does before winter hits.
The Navel tree will grow best in direct sunlight. You may also wish to grow it somewhat close to a structure like a building in the event of wind and other cooling elements.
Make sure it isn’t too close though, to avoid structures like sidewalks and homes as its root system grows out.
The fruits themselves a large and very sweet. The secondary fruit that grows inside that we mentioned appears at the bottom of the plant in a belly button-like structure, hence its name.
Because of the mutation that causes this to grow, however, there are no seeds inside a Navel orange, which means it is an infertile plant. If you want to grow this fruit yourself, it will have to be taken from a branch or root cutting.
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Famously grown along the main streets of the southern Spanish, this variety of orange plant hails, obviously, from Seville.
A rigorous example of a breed of orange tree, Seville orange plants are one of the hardier examples of its kind, able to tolerate the cold, able to grow in soils over around 41° Fahrenheit, although this is the minimum, and they should be grown in a brightly sunlit, frost-free area like its place of origin.
The Seville orange itself is a very bitter citrus fruit, and are not edible in their raw form.
They are, however, a popular choice for marmalade in places like the United Kingdom, where tier high pectin allows them to set better as a preservative than other kinds of orange.
The dried skin also makes excellent seasoning in many other food products, and the juice is used as a dressing in some Middle Eastern salads.
It should be noted that, like Grapefruits, the chemical in Seville oranges can have an adverse reaction if you are on specific kinds of drug medication.
This does not mean they are unsafe to have in your foods, but you should ask your doctor if you know you are likely to consume a product that contains Seville oranges.
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In the same way that almost all types of oranges are the result of a hybrid species of pomelo fruit and mandarin oranges, the Clementine orange is itself a combination of a mandarin fruit, and the sweet oranges we cultivated.
The fruit is named after the French missionary who created it, Clement Rodier, in Algeria in the 19th century.
The Clementine tree is a fairly sensitive fruiting tree. Whilst it can be grown in cooler conditions, it is not recommended and should be kept in hot temperatures and regularly watered to top up its moisture.
The growth is best in conditions you can find around the Mediterranean and North Africa, where the year-round sunlight helps it grow to its full potential.
Like Navel oranges, they rarely bear seeds if ever, so you will need a cutting of some kind to grow this variety of orange plants.
Clementine fruit is generally a very sweet fruit, although there are a variety of different types of it, with some having a more bitter taste than others, like the Spanish Fina, or a more aromatic, sweet version that is grown in Taranto, around the heel of Italy.
It should be noted that clementines can have a similar effect to grapefruits when they are consumed when also on some drug medication, like Seville oranges.
If you have any doubts or are unsure if Clementines are safe for you to eat, contact your doctor for advice.
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Originating from the Southern Mediterranean or Southwest Asia at some point in the 1700s, Blood oranges are a very striking citrus fruit that can be grown in most warm subtropical regions of the world.
Like virtually all other oranges, Blood orange trees are best grown in warm climates and in direct sunlight with the soil kept moist, though not totally soaked.
Both the fruit and the plant handle cold weather poorly. They should be moved or protected in the winter months, to avoid a fatal cold spell that could mean disaster for your tree.
The skin of the Blood orange is much tougher than many other species of oranges, very similar to a grapefruit in that way.
As the name suggests, the inside of a Blood Orange fruit is a deep red, where the resemblance to their grapefruit cousins continues.
Many variants of Blood oranges are uniquely sweet, with some being compared to raspberries for their sweetness.
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