Major entries:
Citrus aurantium Linn. Bergamot. Bitter Orange. Seville Orange. Sweet Orange.
Citrus limonia Osbeck. Lemon.
Citrus medica Linn. Citron.

Citrus. Rutaceae. Bergamot. Citron. Grape Fruit. Lemon. Lime. Orange. Pomelo Shaddock.

The determination of the species of this genus seems to be in confusion, as might be expected from the great variability of this favorite fruit so long under cultivation. Linnaeus established two species, Citrus aurantium, comprising the sweet and bitter orange and the shaddock; and Citrus medica, comprising the lime, lemon and citron. Risso and Poiteau recognized eight species, C. bergamia, the bergamot, C. limetta, the sweet lime with white flowers, C. decumana, the shaddock, C. lumia, the sweet lemon, C. limonum, the lemon, and C. medica, the citron. In 1818, Risso describes 169 varieties and figures 105. The mass of evidence collected by Professor Targioni-Tozzetti seems to show that oranges were first brought from India into Arabia in the ninth century, that they were unknown in Europe, or at any rate in Italy, in the eleventh, but were shortly afterwards carried westward by the Moors. They were in cultivation at Seville towards the end of the twelfth century, and at Palermo in the thirteenth and probably also in Italy, for it is said that St. Domine planted an orange for the convent of S. Sabina in Rome in the year 1200. In the course of the same century, the crusaders found citrons, oranges and lemons very abundant in Palestine, and in the fourteenth century both oranges and lemons became common in several parts of Italy.

They must have been early introduced to America, for Humboldt says "it would seem as if the whole island of Cuba had been originally a forest of palm, lemon and wild orange trees," and he thinks the oranges, which bear a small fruit, are probably anterior to the arrival of Europeans, who transported thither the agrumi of the gardens. Cald-louch says the Brazilians affirm that the small, bitter orange, which bears the name of loranjo do terra and is found wild far from the habitations of man, is of American origin, De Soto, 1557, mentions oranges in the Antilles as bearing fruit all the year, and, in 1587. Cavendish found an orchard with lemons and oranges at Puna, South America, and off San Bias lemons and oranges were brought to the ships. In 1693-94, Phillips speaks of the wild orange as apparently indigenous in Mexico, Porto Rico, Barbados and the Bermudas, as well as in Brazil and the Cape Verde Islands.

The citron appears to have been the only one of this genus known in ancient Rome and is probably the melea persike of Theophrastus and the persika mala of Dioscorides. Lindley says those who have bestowed the most pains in the investigation of Indian botany, and in whose judgment we should place the most confidence, have come to the conclusion that the citron, orange, lemon, lime and their numerous varieties now in circulation, are all derived from one botanical species.

Citrus aurantium Linn. Bergamot. Bitter Orange. Seville Orange. Sweet Orange.

Tropical eastern Asia. The sweet orange began to be cultivated in Europe about the middle of the fifteenth century. Phillips says it was introduced at Lisbon in 1548 by Juan de Castro, a celebrated Portuguese warrior, and from this one tree all the European orange trees of this sort were propagated. This tree was said to have been alive at Lisbon in 1823. One of the first importations of oranges into England occurred A. D. 1290, in which year a Spanish ship laden with this fruit arrived at Portsmouth; of this cargo the Queen of Edward I bought seven. Gallesio says the sweet orange reached Europe through Persia to Syria, and thence to the shores of Italy and the south of France, being carried by the Arabs. It was seen by Friar Jordanus in India about 1330. In the year 1500, says Loudon, there was only one orange-tree in France, which had been planted in 1421 at Pempeluna in Navarre, and this tree is still living. In 1791, Bartram refers to the orange as growing abundantly in Florida, as is apparent from the context, and in 1871 Dr. Baldwin writes, "you may eat oranges from morning to night at every plantation along the shore (of the St. Johns), while the wild trees, bending with their golden fruit over the water, present an enchanting appearance." Oranges are also found in Louisiana and in California (they were seen by Father Baegert in 1751) and are now quite extensively grown for market in the extreme southern states. They are imported to our Atlantic ports from the Mediterranean, the Azores and also from the West Indies. At San Francisco, large quantities are received from Tahiti and Mexico and a few from Hawaii. There are numerous varieties grown, some of which are so distinct as to be described as botanical species.


The bergamot first appeared in the latter part of the seventeenth century. It is not mentioned in the grand work on orange trees by Ferrari, 1676, nor by Lanzani, 1690, nor Quintinye, 1692. It seems to be first mentioned in a little book called La Parfumeur Francois, published at Lyons in 1693. There are several varieties.

Bigarade Orange. Sour Orange. Bitter Orange. Seville Orange.

The sour orange is extensively cultivated in the warmer parts of the Mediterranean region, especially in Spain, and exists under many varieties. It was probably the first orange cultivated in Europe. The sour orange was not mentioned by Nearchus among the productions of the country which is watered by the Indus, but the Arabs, pushing farther into the interior than Alexander the Great, found the orange, and brought it into Arabia in the ninth century. It reached Italy in the eleventh century and was in cultivation about Seville at the close of the twelfth and at Palermo in the thirteenth century. Gallesio states that it was introduced from Arabia and the north of Africa into Spain. Pickering, states that the bitter orange was cultivated in Sicily in A. D. 1002. The sour orange had become naturalized in the forests of Essequibo, about Vera Cruz and near Mexico City, in 1568; in Brazil in 1587; in Porto Rico, Barbados and the Bermudas, Cape Verde islands and in Florida at early dates. There are many varieties and the fruit of a curious one consists of an orange within an orange.

Tangerine. Mandarin.

This fruit is rare in China but abundant in Cochin China. The fruit is round, a little compressed, red inside as well as out. It is the most agreeable of all oranges. Loudon says the thin rind is loose, so much so that when ripe the pulp may be shaken about as a kernel in some nuts. The flesh, of a deep orange color, possesses a superior flavor. Williams says it is the most delicious of the oranges of China.

Citrus decumana Murr. Grape Fruit. Pomelo. Pummelo. Shaddock.

Tropical Asia. The shaddock was first carried from China to the West Indies early in the eighteenth century. It occurs in several varieties and both the red and white kinds are considered by Wilkes indigenous to the Fiji Islands. In 1777, they were somewhat distributed by Capt. Cook in his voyage of discovery.

Citrus japonica Thunb. Kumquat.

Japan and China. The fruit is about the size of a cherry or gooseberry. It is cultivated in China and Japan and is found near Canton in China. The small, oblong, reddish-yellow fruit contains but five sections under a very thin skin; the pulp is sweet and agreeable.

Citrus javanica Blume. Java Lemon.

Java. This cultivated species bears small, roundish, slightly acid fruits.

Citrus limonia Osbeck. Lemon.

Tropical Asia. De Candolle says the lemon was unknown to the ancient Romans and Greeks, and that its culture extended into the West only with the conquests of the Arabs. It is mentioned in the Book of Nabathae on Agriculture which is supposed to date from the third or fourth century of our era. The Arabs brought the lemon in the tenth century from the gardens of Omar into Palestine and Egypt. Jacques de Vitry, writing in the thirteenth century, very well describes the lemon, which he had seen in Palestine. About 1330, Friar Jordanus, saw in India "other lemons sour like ours" which would indicate its existence in India before that date. It was cultivated in Genoa, about the middle of the fifteenth century and as early as 1494 in the Azores. From the north of India, the lemon appears to have passed eastward into Cochin China and China and westward into Europe; it has become naturalized in the West Indies and various parts of America. There are numerous varieties. Some are cultivated in Florida to a limited extent. They are mentioned in California in 1751-68 by Father Baegert.


In Jamaica, the lime is quite naturalized. The fruit is nearly globose, small, yellow when ripe, with a thin skin and an abundance of pure, acid juice. This fruit is largely imported into the United States, in its natural form, pickled and in the form of lime juice. About 1755, Henry Laurens imported limes into South Carolina.

Sweet Lemon.

The fruit has the rind and the flesh of a lemon but the pulp is sweet. There are many varieties in Italy.

Citrus medica Linn. Citron.

Tropical Asia; indigenous to and still found wild in the mountains of east India. The citron is the only member of the orange tribe, the fruit of which was known in ancient Rome. The tree appears to have been cultivated in Palestine in the time of Josephus and was introduced into Italy about the third century. In 1003, it was much grown near Naples. Hogg thinks this is the melea medike of Theophrastus, 322 B. C., and mela medika e kedromela of Dioscorides. Rhind says it was first cultivated in Italy by Palladius in the second century. Royle found it growing wild in the forests of northern India. In Media and Persia, the citron is found only in the cultivated state. It is now distributed throughout the whole of southern Europe, also in Brazil and in the Congo. Fruits are used chiefly in a candied form.

Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.