Citrus history

The pleasing appearance of citrus trees and fruits was mentioned by many ancient travelers, although citrus fruits have not yet become an important food product, the aroma of all parts of citrus trees, including flowers and fruits. were welcome room perfumers and were thought to repel insects.

It was believed that citrus fruits in Europe and the Middle East grew from natural native trees and shrubs, but today historians believe that the ancestor of citrus trees, Citrus medica L., was introduced by Alexander the Great from India to Greece, Turkey. and North Africa at the end of the 4th century BC. The oldest citrus was called citron.

The wall paintings of the Egyptian temple at Karnak contain ancient clues that citrus trees grew here. There have been other suggestions that citrus trees may have been familiar to Jews during their exile and slavery by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC. While there is speculation that citrus trees were known and cultivated by Jews, there is no direct mention of citrus in the Bible.

The first record of citrus fruits, Citrus medica L., in European history was made by Theophrastus in 350 BC, after the fruit was introduced by Alexander the Great.

In early European history, writers wrote about the Persian citrus fruit, which had a wonderful aroma and was considered a poisoning remedy, breath sweetener, and moth repellent.

Citrus fruits were well known to the ancient cultures of the Greeks and then the Romans. Beautiful ceramic tiles were found in the ruins of Pompeii after the city was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Another mosaic tile on the ruins of a Roman villa in Carthage, North Africa, around the 2nd century AD. clearly showed citron fruit and lemon fruit growing on a tree branch.

Early Christian orange and lemon mosaics dating back to AD 300 featured lemon yellow and orange flowers surrounded by bright green leaves and freshly cut tree branches; relics can still be seen in Istanbul, Turkey, in mosques that were once the churches of Emperor Constantine.

It is not known how, where or when exceptional modern citrus tree varieties such as sweet orange, lemon, kumquat, lime, grapefruit or pommelo emerged, but there seems to be a general consensus that all of these citrus developments and enhancements were derived from natural and artificial selection and natural evolution. It is well known that the Romans knew the sour orange Citrus aurantium L. and the lemon tree Citrus limon. After the fall of Rome, under the onslaught of barbarians and Muslims, the Arab states quickly spread naturally improving varieties of citrus fruits and trees throughout most of North Africa, Spain and Syria. The spread of the sour orange Citrus aurantium L. and lemon Citrus limon expanded the cultivation and planting of these trees worldwide by planting seeds that produced citrus trees very similar to the parent trees. The conquest of the Arabs by the Crusades later spread the planting and cultivation of citrus fruits throughout Europe.

The sweet orange, Citrus sinensis, appeared in the late 1400s, around the time of Christopher Columbus, who discovered America. After the trade routes were closed, when the Turks defeated the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453 with the center in Constantinople (Istanbul), many European kings began to look for alternative, trade, sea routes in order to open trade on ships with China and India. The introduction of the sweet orange tree in Europe has changed the dynamics of the importance of citrus fruits in the world. The journey of the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gamma recorded that in 1498 there were many orange trees growing in India, and all the fruits had a sweet taste. A new sweet orange variety known as the “Portuguese Orange” has caused a spike in citrus planting, much like the much later Washington navel tree in California.

Lime, Citrus latifolia, was first mentioned in European history by Sir Thomas Herbert in his Travels, who recorded that he discovered the cultivation of “oranges, lemons and limes” off the island of Mozambique in the mid-1600s. Linden is available in many varieties today.

In 1707, the Spanish missions were growing oranges, fig trees, quinces, pomegranates, peaches, apricots, apples, pears, mulberries, pecans, and other trees, according to horticultural documents.

The mandarin orange, Citrus reticulata, was described in Chinese history in the late 1100s, but was unknown in Europe until it was brought from the Mandarin province of China to England in 1805, where it quickly spread throughout Europe.

Pummelo, Citrus grandis, also called shaddock and “Adam’s apple,” grew in Palestine in the early 1200s and was planted and cultivated by the Arabs. The pummelo is believed to be of Asian origin and was planted as seeds in the New World.

The grapefruit Citrus paradisi is believed to be the result of a mutation in the pammelo tree. Grapefruits were so named because they grew in clusters like grapes, but most gardeners considered them inedible until A.L. Duncan did not find the outstanding grapefruit-grapefruit that was named Duncan’s grapefruit in 1892; the original tree is still alive and growing in Florida.

Christopher Columbus introduced citrus fruits to the island of Haiti in 1493. He is believed to have brought citrus seeds to be planted and grown from sour orange, sweet orange, citron, lemon, lime, and pammelo fruit. Records indicate that these citrus trees were firmly established in the American colonies around 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida, and coastal South Carolina.

William Bartram reported in his famous botanical book Travels in 1773 that Henry Lawrence of Charleston, South Carolina, who was President of the Continental Congresses, introduced “olives, limes, ginger, evergreen strawberries, red raspberries, and blue grapes.” in the United States colony after 1755.

William Bartram, in his book Travels, reported that near Savannah, Georgia, “it is interesting to note that as early as 1790 oranges were grown in some quantity along the coast, and about 3,000 gallons of orange juice were exported that year. “

Many of these wild orange groves were seen by the early American explorer William Bartram, according to his book Travels, in 1773 while traveling along the St. John’s River in Florida. Bartram mistakenly thought these orange trees were from Florida; however, they were created several centuries earlier by Spanish explorers.

The citrus industry began to develop rapidly in 1821 when the Spanish ceded their territories and numerous orange groves to the United States. The wild orange groves have been carefully cultivated with improved varieties, and residents traveling to Florida have realized how refreshing orange juice is; Thus began shipments of oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons, which were sent to Philadelphia and New York by rail and ship in the 1880s.

Citrus planting in California was carried out by Spanish missionaries; however, the commercial industry began to grow after the 1849 gold rush boom, and efforts to supply the San Francisco miners with citrus fruits were successful. The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad further stimulated citrus production as citrus could be quickly shipped to eastern markets. Later improvements in refrigeration helped to increase the cultivation and planting of citrus fruits, mainly oranges, lemons and limes, around the world in 1889.

Florida initially dominated citrus production in the United States, but a devastating frost in 1894 and 1899 nearly wiped out the Satsuma orange trees in the Gulf countries. Thousands of acres of Satsuma orange trees were destroyed in Alabama, Texas and Louisiana in the severe frosts of 1916; thus, citrus production in the United States began to shift from Florida to California.

Citrus fruits are marketed worldwide as a healthy fruit that contains vitamin C and many other vitamins and minerals in orange and citrus marmalade, fresh fruit, and frozen and hot citrus juice concentrates.

Copyright 2006 Patrick Malcolm

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