There are records that show that in China the orange was known at least four thousand years ago.
There are two kinds of orange tree, the sweet and the sour. The sour orange was the first orange grown in Europe. It was introduced by the Moors who invaded southern Spain and Sicily around the ninth century.
By the eleventh century the Moors were quite strongly in control of the conquered countries, and the planted sour orange and other trees. Sour oranges were widely grown in southern Europe until the fifteenth century, when increased trade with Orient brought sweet oranges to Europe. Although some sour oranges are still grown and eaten, they are now used mainly as rootstocks for sweet oranges.
Sweet oranges were at first a luxury that only very rich people could afford. Kings and nobles paid great prices to obtain orange trees, which they planted in their gardens.
In the colder countries the delicate trees would be killed during a cold winter, so special greenhouses, called orangeries, were built. The orange trees were planted in tubs. During the summer they were moved outside, but in winter they were kept safe behind glass in the orangeries, where they could bloom despite the cold outside.
Did you know that when Christopher Columbus sailed for the New World he carried seeds of oranges and many other citrus fruits with him? The seeds were planted on the island of Hispaniola. Citrus trees flourished in the tropical climate of the West Indies and what is now Florida.
The Indians ate the oranges and, as they travelled about, they dropped the seeds. Planted in this way, grooves of citrus trees were soon growing wild.
Today the United States leads the world in the production of oranges. The state of Florida has the greatest number of orange trees and produces more sweet oranges than any other state-or country.
Published in: Gardening