The orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck, 1765) is a fruit tree belonging to the Rutaceae family, the fruit of which is the orange (also known in current use as “orange”, like the tree), sometimes called sweet orange to distinguish it from bitter orange.
It is an ancient hybrid, probably between pomelo and mandarin, but for centuries it has grown as an autonomous species and has spread by grafting and cutting.
Originally from China and Southeast Asia, this winter fruit was only imported into Europe in the 14th century by Portuguese sailors. However, some ancient Roman texts speak of it already in the first century; it was grown in Sicily and where it was called melarancia, which could mean that the fruit had reached Europe by land. Both theories could be correct. The orange probably came to Europe by the silk road, but the cultivation took hold only in warm Sicily, where its diffusion ran aground. Only after centuries was it rediscovered by Portuguese sailors.