Horticulture Nutrition & Health

Welcome to ‘The orange family’ – Know the different Citrus Fruits!

Oranges … the thing that comes to our mind when we hear the word “oranges” is that colorful, bright and juicy pulp that makes a hot summer, a heaven. Gulping a pulp that gives you an immense pleasure is what we want during the summer days.  People tend to identify all similarly looking fruits as oranges. But in general, oranges belong to a major genus called “Citrus”. The citrus fruits are rich source of Citric acid and Vitamin C. There are more than hundreds of varieties of Citrus that are commercialized and yet-to-be commercialized throughout the world. But, only four Citrus species via Citron, Pomelo, Mandarin and Papeda are the ancestral species and others are developed either through natural hybridization or artificial hybridization. In, India there are certain cultivars that are in huge demand in the Indian markets.

Sweet oranges – Citrus sinensis

The sweet orange is a hybrid between Pomelo and mandarin. The fruit is sweet with juicy pulp. It is spherical in shape with fine surface. The thickness of the rind is around 5mm. There are nearly 10- 11 carpels (Segments) with juice filled hairs inside. The texture of the fruit is soft and has a TSS range of about 11° brix. They can be either eaten fresh or processed for its juice and fragrance.

Sweet oranges- Citrus sinensis ; P.C. Hari Kishore

Mandarin oranges – Citrus reticulata

Mandarin Oranges are one among the true Citrus species. These fruits are generally oblate in shape rather than spherical one like other oranges.  They have a pebbly skin rather than a soft one. The thickness of the rind or skin is 4 mm and it’s easy to peel. The fruit have 11 to 12 carpels. These oranges are less sour, very sweet in taste and their TSS ranging from 110 brix.  They can be eaten plain or made into salads.

Mandarin oranges Citrus reticulata
Mandarin oranges – Citrus reticulata

Sweet lime – Citrus limetta

This species is often considered as the alternate cultivar of lemon. It is also called as sweet lime, mosambi, Sathukudi in Tamil. It is oval and green and when it is ripe, turn into yellow color. The inner pulp is greenish in color. The thickness of the pith (A white layer beneath the peel) is around 4 mm in thickness. The flavor is sweet and mild, with a mild lime taste. But, when it is cut open and kept for some times, it’s taste becomes bitter. The fruit is exclusively used for making juices. There are 10 – 11 carpels in the fruit and its TSS is 100 brix on average.

Sweet lime Citrus limetta
Sweet lime – Citrus limetta

Lemon  – Citrus limon

Lemon is commonly used for culinary and non culinary purpose like cleaning. Lemon has a distinct sour flavor and hence, it has found its application in soft- drinks and cocktails. Lemon is a rich source of Vitamin C. the fruit surface has a soft texture with a 2mm thickness rind. There are 11 carpels in the fruit.  The TSS of the fruit ranges from 7- 80 brix.

Lemon Citrus limon
Lemon – Citrus limon

Grapefruit  – Citrus paradisi

The grapefruit is the result of accidental cross between Sweet Orange and Pomelo. Grapefruit is larger in size with oblate-spheroid in shape. The skin is yellow – orange with a thickness of 1 cm. There are different cultivars in grapefruit but the pulp with white, pink and red is mostly commercialized. It is less sweet with a bitter taste. They are more acidic and its TSS ranges from 7 to 80 brix. The carpels are highly segmented and slightly resemble heart shape.  

Grapefruit Citrus paradisi
Grapefruit – Citrus paradisi

Pomelo   – Citrus maxima

Pomelo is also popularly called as Pumello by the Indians. It is larger in size weighing nearly 1-2 kgs when mature. Pomelo is one of the parent species of the citrus family. The thickness of the rind/Pith is larger. It turns Pale yellow color when ripe with white to light pink pulp. It has a sweet flavor than grapefruit, but its rind is bitter in nature. It is eaten as a dessert, eaten raw or with sugar.

Pomelo   - Citrus maxima
Pomelo   – Citrus maxima

Citron – Citrus medica

Citron is one among the true citrus. Unlike other citrus fruits, the pulp of citron fruit is dry. It has thick pith that is inseparable from the pulp. This is because, the white rind is adhered to the segments or carpels. Interestingly, in citron, the thick pith is having international market as it is widely employed in food industries as succades (the peel is candied with sugar). It is oblong with bubbles in the outer surface of the fruit.

Citron - Citrus medica
Citron – Citrus medica

Nagpur Orange

Nagpur orange is a variety of orange that is grown in Nagpur, Maharashtra. The fruit is popularly called as “Kamala Orange” in south Indian states. The parental origin of the fruit is unknown. Because of this fruit, the Nagpur was coined as “Orange City”.  Nagpur oranges have geographical indication and it came into effect since 2014. It is shiny, with a 5 mm thick rind that can be easily peeled off. They have a very good taste and high juice content and most preferred during the on seasons.

Nagpur Orange
Nagpur Orange

Kinnow Orange/Malta Orange

Kinnaur orange is a hybrid of mandarin oranges. It is highly known for its productivity. It can produce more than 1000 fruits per tree. Its size is bigger than normal sweet oranges and they have a soft nature. They have a thin rind and hence, one hand plucking during harvest is avoided. The pulp is sweet with a TSS range up to 140 brix. The only disadvantage is that, the type of Kinnow with larger seeds is less preferred in Indian markets.

Kinnow Orange/Malta Orange
Kinnow Orange / Malta Orange

Harikishore, a graduate in Horticulture. Working as a Quality Control Manager in Kovai Pazhamudir Nilayam, Chennai. Playing musical instruments and reading books are my hobbies. hari30101995@gmail.com.