Native to Asia (China, Vietnam, India) the orange tree is a fruity tree of the Rutaceae family, which comprises more than 900 species divided in 160 genres. All citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit, orange, bergamot etc.) are part of this family.
The mature orange tree reaches a height of 1 to 10 meters and a width of between 3 and 5 meters. It is an evergreen shrub that likes rich, well-drained soils.
It can be planted in soil or in pots and requires good exposure to the sun. Sensitive to cold, it must be protected from the first chills. Its flowering period extends from April to July and the harvest is from November to March.
The orange appeared in the antiquity, in the Greek mythology. During Hercules´stwelve jobs, the eleventh consisted in acquiring the fruits of a golden apple tree in the Hesperide gardens located ant the slopes of Mount Atlas, on the edge of the world to the west, where the sun sets (the Greeks located this garden in Portugal, which was indeed the westest part of the known wolrd.) Contrary to what its name indicates, the fruit of the apple tree was not gold apples but oranges, nicknamed so because of their color.
The golden apple tree was a gift from Zeusto his wife Hera, it was put under the protection of three hespéridesnymphs daughters of the titan Atlasand Hesperis(the night). But a day, Heranoticed that the nymphs stole the fruits of the tree. She sends a hundred head dragon to protect it and forbid the entrance to it. Herculesthen asks the titan Atlasto fetch the fruits for him and it is by a trick that he gets his way. This allowed Herculesto complete his next to last work.
In Europe, the orange made its apparition during the XVth century. Very rare and very popular fruit, it was reservde for the aristocracy and the nobility because of its high price. It was mostly women who consume it because we lend the orange rejuvenating virtues. In the Cinderellatale by Perrault, the prince offers as precious gifts ornages and lemons toCinderellaand her sisters.
The orange is part of the citrus family in which we equally find the bergamot, lemon, mandarin, grapefruit as well as the orange tree products (orange blossom, petitgrain, neroli). The citrus perfumes, just like the very first “Eaux de Cologne”, are characterized by their freshness and lightness.
The orange essential oil is obtained by the cold expression of the zest. This technique as indicated by its name, does not require heat, which allows to obtain a smell loyal to the original one.
Nowadays the principal producing countries are Brazil and the USA. The smell of orange essential oil evokes fresh, sweet and acidic notes. It is a volatile note, used as a head note, which lasts only a couple of minutes in the skin. If it is also present in floral perfumes, it is also found in oriental and woody compositions.
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