How many citruses are there ?
Every day, many of us consume quite a large variety of different citruses. From orange juice in the morning to lemon with your fish at lunch and a grapefruit in the evening, this variety of fruit has seemingly ingrained itself quite protrusively into the daily routine of many.
This genus of fruit is native to South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia and Australia, it’s cultivation beginning more than 5000 years ago. Only towards 1200BCE did the variety of fruit finally make it over to the Middle-East and Europe through the incense trade route, linking the Mediterranean world with the southern and eastern countries which produced spices, incenses and other goods.
Today, there are more than 50 varieties with deriving sub-genres available to humanity. Among them there are names that many of us have never even heard of before, such as the ‘ugli fruit’; the ‘tangor’; the ‘satsuma’; the ‘papeda’ or the ‘mangshanyegan’.
Unsurprisingly, a large proportion of these aren’t naturally occurring, appearing to be a byproduct of human intervention. Most of the derived varieties result from cross breeding and/or genetic modifying of the ‘original’ species’ of citruses.
Indeed, there have been found around 10 indigenous citruses to the formerly listed geographical territories which are responsible for the variety of citruses we have now. Most of the cross breeding and experimentation outcomes involve the mandarin (Citrus reticulata), pomelo (C. Maxis) and the citron (C. medica).
The citrus fruits gained such amazing popularity in the whole world throughout the years, that in most countries such as Italy or Spain, the locals wouldn’t even think that some of those fruits didn’t originate in their homeland.
In part, the reason for which these fruit made such a reputation for themselves is because they have a great deal of nutritional elements, a relatively good taste and can be used as a preventive measure against a great deal of menacing diseases.
In the 18th century, many European voyagers organised long expeditions set for the discovery of new horizons, colonisation of lands and establishment of trade. The journeys out at sea have often times dragged on for very long and the lack of citruses on some of these turned out to be fatal to entire crews !
The sickness in question which could have been avoided with any citrus is the scurvy – a disease deriving from a severe lack of vitamin C in the body. After discovering the cause of the terrible sickness that was striking the expeditors, lemon and orange growers started increasing their production in Europe. It was later found that the fruits’ contribution to raising citrate in urine also helps reduce the chance of having kidney stones.
In summary, the variety of fruit has been such a long time favourite among mankind for it’s multiple benefits that now, we ended up with the massive quantity of strains deriving from mainly three original fruit; now fulfilling the different desires of consumers around the world!