Though not of native British growth, except by way of a luxury in

the gardens of the wealthy, yet the Orange [400] 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

[401] 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

wakeful person.

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.

[402] 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; [403]

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

[404] 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.