Herb: Sweet Orange

Latin name: Citrus sinensis

Synonyms: Citrus aurantium sinensis

Family: Rutaceae (Rue Family, Citrus Family)

Medicinal use of Sweet Orange:

Citrus species contain a wide range of active ingredients and research is still underway in finding uses for them. They are rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, acids and volatile oils. They also contain coumarins such as bergapten which sensitizes the skin to sunlight. Bergapten is sometimes added to tanning preparations since it promotes pigmentation in the skin, though it can cause dermatitis or allergic responses in some people. Some of the plants more recent applications are as sources of anti-oxidants and chemical exfoliants in specialized cosmetics. The fruit is appetizer and blood purifier. It is used to allay thirst in people with fevers and also treats catarrh. The fruit juice is useful in the treatment of bilious affections and bilious diarrhoea. The fruit rind is carminative and tonic. The fresh rind is rubbed on the face as a cure for acne. The dried peel is used in the treatment of anorexia, colds, coughs etc.

Description of the plant:


9 m
(30 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Original habitat is obscure, possibly an introgressed hybrid of C. maxima x C. reticulata.

Edible parts of Sweet Orange:

Fruit - raw. Sweet and delicious. The juice is often extracted from the fruit and sold as a refreshing and healthy drink or used in jellies, ice cream etc. The rind of the fruit is often used as a flavouring in cakes etc or made into marmalade. Flowers - cooked as a vegetable or made into a tea.

Other uses of the herb:

A semi-drying oil obtained from the seed is used in soap making. An essential oil from the peel is used as a food flavouring and also in perfumery and medicines.

Propagation of Sweet Orange:

The seed is best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it ripe after thoroughly rinsing it. Sow stored seed in March in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 3 weeks at 13C. Seedlings are liable to damp off so they must be watered with care and kept well ventilated. The seed is usually polyembrionic, two or more seedlings arise from each seed and they are genetically identical to the parent but they do not usually carry any virus that might be present in the parent plant. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least three growing seasons before trying them outdoors. Plant them out in the summer and give them some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Layering in October.

Cultivation of the herb:

Original habitat is obscure, possibly an introgressed hybrid of C. maxima x C. reticulata.

Known hazards of Citrus sinensis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.