The bitter orange (Citrus aurantium L.) is probably a re-crossing of Citrus maxima (the pomelo) x Citrus reticulata (the mandarancio). Originally from Asia (China), it was brought to Europe by the Arabs in the tenth century; in Italy it seems to have been brought by the Crusaders.
It has a rolled up crown; up to 10 meters high. The leaves have an intense green color, ovate and pointed at the apex, provided with large fins on the petiole. The most vigorous branches are very thorny; it has a robust root system with taproot. The flowers are hermaphrodite, white and very similar to those of the sweet orange, like the fruits which, however, are more wrinkled and rich in essential oils.
The pulp is acidic, bitter and rich in seeds; lepicarpo is quite thin. Orange in color, they last long on the plant.
Bitter orange has a much higher resistance to low temperatures than sweet orange.
Mainly used as a rootstock for many citrus fruits, its fruits are used by the food industry to obtain fresh or dried peel for confectionery or for the production of liqueurs (eg Curaçao) and in pharmacology for the preparation of tonics. Also highly appreciated as an ornamental plant.
Bitter orange - Citrus aurantium L. (photo website)
There are many cultivars. Singular is the Bizarre: it simultaneously presents fruits of bitter orange and citron lemon, as well as particular lumpy, yellow, orange and green fruits, with characteristics of both species. The Caniculata variety has flattened orange fruits with an irregular skin. In the Salicefolia variety (willow leaves) the leaves are narrow and long, while the fruits are the same as those of the classic bitter orange.
Larancio amaro Corniculata is an ancient variety known in Italy since the 17th century. It has fruits with a rather wrinkled peel, acid-bitter pulp and protuberances that resemble small 'horns, hence the name of the cultivar. The leaves have a beautiful intense green color with typical winged petiole, present in all the bitter orange cultivars. It blooms mainly in the spring period, has white flowers, with an intense aroma, similar to those of sweet orange.
Bitter orange var. Caniculata