Botanist's Glossary

Orange, Bitter Orange Tree - Citrus aurantium

  • Description
    • Bitter orange or bigarade orange (Rutaceae family) is a small evergreen tree with pure white, very fragrant flowers. The tree can reach a height of 12 meters and live for hundreds of years. It was the first orange tree to arrive in the West, in the 1st century AD, and originally grew in the mountainous regions of North-East India, Northern Burma and South-West China. The peel of the fruit is thick and bitter. Up until the 15th century, this was the only orange known in Christianity. The bitter orange is by far the most commonly found orange tree in the French Riviera, where it is used to make a local specialty - a bitter orange marmalade.
  • Traditions
    • Orange tree leaf is one of the basic products in a herbalist's collection. Bitter orange peel, which has stimulating properties and can be used as a vermifuge, is frequently used today to promote weight loss and is actually the peeled zest of green bitter oranges. The finest orange essential oil is distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree: the delicately scented Neroli essence.
  • Properties
    • Neroli essential oil releases a scent with rare and sensual notes. The oil produced from the zest has sparkling and invigorating notes. The floral water is used for its softening properties.