Though not of native British growth, except by way of a luxury in
the gardens of the wealthy, yet the Orange  is of such common
use amongst all classes of our people as a dietetic fruit, when of the
sweet China sort, and for tonic medicinal purposes when of the
bitter Seville kind, that some consideration may be fairly accorded
to it as a Curative Simple in these pages.
The Citrus aurantium, or popul
r Orange, came originally from
India, and got its distinctive title of Aurantium, either (ab aureo
colore corticis) from the golden colour of its peel, or (ab oppido
Achoeioe Arantium) from Arantium, a town of Achaia. It now
comes to us chiefly from Portugal and Spain. This fruit is essentially
a product of cultivation extending over many years. It began in
Hindustan as a small bitter berry with seeds; then about the eighth
century it was imported into Persia, though held somewhat
accursed. During the tenth century it bore the name Bigarade, and
became better known. But not until the sixteenth century was it
freely grown by the Spaniards, and brought into Mexico. Even at
that time the legend still prevailed that whoever partook of the
luscious juice was compelled to embrace the faith of the prophet.
Spenser and Milton tell of the orange as the veritable golden apple
presented by Jupiter to Juno on the day of their nuptials: and hence
perhaps arose its more modern association with marriage rites.
Of the varieties the China Orange is the most juicy, being now
grown in the South of Europe; whilst the St. Michael Orange (a
descendant of the China sort, first produced in Syria), is now got
abundantly from the Azores, whence it derives its name.
John Evelyn says the first China Orange which appeared in Europe,
was sent as a present to the old Conde Mellor; then Prime Minister
to the King of Portugal, when only one plant escaped sound and useful
 of the whole case which reached Lisbon, and this became the
parent of all the Orange trees cultivated by our gardeners, though
not without greatly degenerating.
The Seville Orange is that which contains the medicinal properties,
more especially in its leaves, flowers, and fruit, though the China
sort possesses the same virtues in a minor degree. The leaves and
the flowers have been esteemed as beneficial against epilepsy, and
other convulsive disorders; and a tea is infused from the former
for hysterical sufferers.
Two delicious perfumes are distilled from the flowers--oil of neroli,
and napha water,--of which the chemical hydro-carbon hesperidin, is
mainly the active principle. This is secreted also as an aromatic
attribute of the leaves through their minute glands, causing them to
emit a fragrant odour when bruised. A scented water is largely prepared
in France from the flowers, l'eau de fleur d'oranger, which is
frequently taken by ladies as a gentle sedative at night, when
sufficiently diluted with sugared water. Thousands of gallons are
drunk in this way every year. As a pleasant and safely effective help
towards wooing sleep, from one to two teaspoonfuls of the French
Eau de fleur d'oranger, if taken at bedtime in a teacupful of hot
water, are to be highly commended for a nervous, or excitably
Orange buds are picked green from the trees in the gardens of
the Riviera, and when dried they retain the sweet smell of
the flowers. A teaspoonful of these buds is ordered to be infused
in a teacupful of quite hot water, and the liquid to be drunk shortly,
before going to bed. The effect is to induce a refreshing sleep,
without any subsequent headache or nausea. The dried berries may
be had from an English druggist.
 A peeled Orange contains, some citric acid, with citrate of
potash; also albumen, cellulose, water, and about eight per cent. of
sugar. The white lining pith of the peel possesses likewise the
crystalline principle hesperidin. Dr. Cullen showed that the acid
juice of oranges, by uniting with the bile, diminishes the bitterness
of that secretion; and hence it is that this fruit is of particular
service in illnesses which arise from a redundancy of bile, chiefly in
dark persons of a fibrous, or bilious temperament. But if the acids of
the Orange are greater in quantity than can be properly corrected by
the bile (as in persons with a small liver, and feeble digestive
powers), they seem, by some prejudicial union with that liquid, to
acquire a purgative quality, and to provoke diarrhoea, with colicky
The rind or peel of the Seville Orange is darker in colour, and more
bitter of taste than that of the sweet China fruit. It affords a
considerable quantity of fragrant, aromatic oil, which partakes of the
characters exercised by the leaves and the flowers as affecting the
nervous system. Pereira records the death of a child which resulted
from eating the rind of a sweet China Orange.
The small green fruits (windfalls) from the Orange trees of each
sort, which become blown off, or shaken down during the heats of
the summer, are collected and dried, forming the orange berries of
the shops. They are used for flavouring curacoa, and for making
issue peas. These berries furnish a fragrant oil, the essence de petit
grain, and contain citrates, and malates of lime and potash, with
hesperidin, sulphur, and mineral salts. The Orange flowers yield a
volatile, odorous oil, acetic acid, and acetate of lime. The juice of
the Orange consists of citric and malic acids, with sugar; 
citrate of lime, and water. The peel furnishes hesperidin, a volatile
oil, gallic acid, and a bitter principle.
By druggists, a confection of bitter orange peel is sold; also a syrup
of this orange peel, and a tincture of the same, made with spirit of
wine, to be given in doses of from one to two teaspoonfuls with
water, as an agreeable stomachic bitter. Eau de Cologne contains
oil of neroli, oil of citron, and oil of orange.
The fresh juice of Oranges is antiseptic, and will prevent scurvy if
taken in moderation daily. Common Oranges cut through the middle
while green, and dried in the air, being afterwards steeped for forty
days in oil, are used by the Arabs for preparing an essence famous
among their old women because it will restore a fresh dark, or
black colour to grey hair. The custom of a bride wearing Orange
blossoms, is probably due to the fact that flowers and fruit appear
together on the tree, in token of a wish that the bride may retain the
graces of maidenhood amid the cares of married life. This custom
has been derived from the Saracens, and was originally suggested
also by the fertility of the Orange tree.
The rind of the Seville Orange has proved curative of ague, and
powerfully remedial to restrain the monthly flux of women when in
excess. Its infusion is of service also against flatulency. A drachm
of the powdered leaves may be given for a dose in nervous and
hysterical ailments. Finally, the Orange, adds John Evelyn,
sharpens appetite, exceedingly refreshes, and resists putrefaction.
With respect to the fruit, it is said that workpeople engaged in the
orange trade enjoy a special immunity from influenza, whilst a free
partaking of the juice given largely, has been found preventive of
 pneumonia as complicating this epidemic. The benefit is said
to occur through lessening the fibrin of the blood.
In the time of Shakespeare, it was the fashion to carry pomanders,
these being oranges from which all the pulp had been scooped out,
whilst a circular hole was made at the top. Then after the peel had
become dry, the fruit was filled with spices, so as to make a sort of
scent-box. Orange lilies, Orangemen, and William of Orange, are all
more or less associated with this fruit. The Dutch Government had
no love for the House of Orange: and many a grave burgomaster
went so far as to banish from his garden the Orange lily, and
Marigold; also the sale of Oranges and Carrots was prohibited in the
markets on account of their aristocratic colour.
There exists at Brighton a curious custom of bowling or throwing
Oranges along the high road on Boxing day. He whose Orange is hit
by that of another, forfeits the fruit to the successful hitter.
In Henry the Eighth's reign Oranges were made into pies, or the
juice was squeezed out, and mixed with wine. This fruit when
peeled, and torn into sections, after removing the white pith, and the
pips, and sprinkling over it two or three spoonfuls of powdered loaf
sugar, makes a most wholesome salad. A few candied orange-flower
petals will impart a fine flavour to tea when infused with it.