Orange County Chapter CRFG

Sharing Information on Growing Edible Plants

IN THE ARBORETUM TODAY
By: Alfredo Chiri


VALENCIA ORANGE Citrus sinensis spp. Valencia' Rutaceae

Donated by: This fruit tree is part of the original orchard and planted in 1950 (r.f.-03) 

Common names: Valencia orange, naranja valenciana


The Valencia orange was known in the past as Common' or Sweet Orange but now it is commonly referred to as the juice orange. Valencia oranges originated in either Spain or Portugal. The Spaniards introduced oranges to Florida four centuries ago. Orange trees bear flowers and fruits at the same time. In some ancient cultures, the flowers and fruit were used in fertility rituals and weddings. The white flower symbolized virginity while the fruit symbolized fertility.

The tree varies both in stature and in the character of the fruit. Normally the fruit contains up to ten compartments or locules. Oranges belong to a tribe of three-foliolate plants, and although the leaves appear to be simple, they are really compound. The leaf blade is joined to a rachis, which is a leaflet whose sides have not developed.

The leading difficulty of growing an orange tree is the tendency to have it growing the entire year and to keep it too wet at the roots. After the fruiting season, the plant should be allowed to rest for a time in order to harden its wood for the next year¹s blooming. The tree roots should be kept dry. Water should not be withheld entirely, because the plant should be kept in such a condition that the foliage will not drop. After this period of inactivity (one or two months), the plant should be reinstated to its regular watering and fertilizing cycle.

Ordinarily, if the orange tree is grown in a container (small tub or half wine barrel), it will not require repotting for several years or until it has attained a height of 5 to 6 feet. Some of the surface soil can be removed from time to time and replaced with new soil.

Growing regions have strong influences on the fruit -- size, shape, color, flavor, texture, and thickness of the peel are all dependent on the area's climate. Valencia trees bloom early in hot areas and latest in cool coastal areas. In some warm areas in California, the trees bloom in April, while in the cooler coastal areas, the tree blooms in May.

Fruit size is largest in California¹s warm areas and decreases in size in cooler coastal areas. Fruit tends to be elongated in the warmer areas and flatter in the cooler areas. The peel tends to be thinner and smooth in warm areas and to have thicker and rougher texture in cooler areas. Temperature does not affect the pulp, which remains juicy and acid.

Some Valencia oranges undergo a natural process called re-greening during the late spring and summer. This process occurs when the fruit is left on the tree during the warm temperatures of the summer months. The warm
temperatures cause the chlorophyll to return to the skin, causing a greenish tint. The color of the skin has no effect on the sweetness of the fruit. These oranges are sweet, juicy and ripe.