Citrus Trees

Did you know that citrus trees have been cultivated since the time of Alexander the Great? Throughout history cultures around the world have relied on the delicious fruits of citrus trees to help keep them healthy as well as add flavor to their cooking.  Historians believe that originally citrus trees and plants evolved naturally and then were discovered by humans.  There is a lot of archeological evidence that says the Roman empire was responsible for spreading citrus tree cultivation throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East and Europe.

The art of many different cultures including ancient Egypt and medieval Europe prominently features displays of citrus fruit and citrus trees.  Today citrus trees and citrus fruits are produced all over the world from China to the Mediterranean to Australia and North America.  India is one of the world’s largest exporters of citrus fruit. In North America most of the citrus fruit production has shifted to California from Florida because of several seasons of hurricanes and other bad weather conditions in Florida.

Not a lot is known about the cultivation of citrus trees in the ancient world although historians know from archeological evidence that citrus trees were cultivated. 

 The cultivation of citrus trees in Europe began very early, before the 16th century.  By the 16th century it was fashionable for the aristocrats of Europe to have indoor nurseries where citrus trees were carefully grown year round.  Modern greenhouses where plants and citrus trees are grown all year round weren’t popular until the 1840’s but nearly every noble European family in the 17th century had what they called an “orangery” or a room where citrus trees were grown in pots all year round. Because citrus tree blossoms are very pretty and are very fragrant when the trees were not bearing fruit they still made for a beautiful indoor garden. 

Citrus trees are known for more than their fruit in horticultural circles.  Aside from producing tasty, nutritious fruit citrus trees are known to produce many beautiful, sweet smelling blossoms during the growing period which make them popular additions to outdoor and indoor gardens.  A citrus tree will only produce fruit under very specific conditions but even if a tree doesn’t fruit it can still produce many blossoms.  People who live in areas where the growing conditions are not ideal for growing citrus fruit still plant citrus trees just to take advantage of the blossoms that the trees create.

There are hundreds of different breeds and types of citrus trees.  Citrus trees take very well to hybridization and cross breeding so over the centuries many people have created variations of citrus trees that would thrive in the local conditions.  Certain species of citrus trees can survive bouts of freezing cold, while others cannot.  Different breeds of citrus trees have been developed to produce a particular tasting fruit as well as to withstand local growing conditions.  The exact origin of many species of hybridized citrus trees is unknown because the trees have been adapted into so many cultures around the world.

All About Citrus Trees – Part II

The cultivation of citrus trees is partly an art and partly a science. Citrus trees are generally pretty hardy plants but most of them do require very specific growing conditions in order to produce fruit. The one thing that will damage a citrus tree more than anything else is repeated exposure to the cold, so […]