First Oranges Aren’t Orange? Fact or Myth?

Eliza | 06 - 30 - 2021

Orange is one of the fruits of the citrus species. It is also a hybrid between pomelo and mandarin and originated in a region of Southern China, Northeast India, and Myanmar. It is said that orange got its name from its color but the first oranges aren’t orange! The word orange got its name from the Dravidian word naradam/naraja meaning fragrant. History says that the fruit went to Europe by Italian Traders and Portuguese navigators by 1500. It is also said oranges were traded by the Arabs and spread throughout the world from Spain.

Were the first oranges orange? 

No, the first oranges from Southeast Asia were a tangerine-pomelo hybrid in green color. Even today oranges in warmer regions like Vietnam and Thailand are green even after ripening. 

The original name of orange 

There are many names for oranges and it is still debated “how the fruit got its name.” It was called yellow-red, red-yellow, or simply red before it was named orange. Orange entered the “late middle English” in fourteen century from the old french word “orenge”, later the ‘n’ in the word was dropped off. It was also called Apfelsine in German, and Sinaasappel in Dutch. The color “orange” didn’t have a name until the fruit orange was widely available in the market. In the 13th-century Anglo-Norman manuscript, the fruit is mentioned as “pume orange” -the word is mentioned not for its color but the bitterness of the skin. 

Orange Is a Hybrid of Pomelo and
  • A. Mandarin
  • B. Musa
  • C. Acuminata
  • D. None of the above

When were oranges discovered? 

Just like its name, the origin of oranges has several stories. But Research says that oranges were discovered in Asia. It was cultivated in India for at least 7,000 years ago and  2,500 BCE in China. 

Fun facts about oranges

  • There are around 600 varieties of oranges
  • Orange is the largest citrus fruit in the world
  • Orange juice is the most popular fruit juice in the United States
  • The first orange tree was discovered in China 
  • A medium orange can give fiber equal to seven cups of cornflakes. 
  • Brazil is the biggest producer of Oranges and it is also the orange production capital. 
  • The flowers of an orange tree give a wonderful fragrance. 
  • The orange blossom is the state flower of Florida. 
  • Orange trees are killed annually by lightning more than any other plant disease. 
  • In 1493, Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage, brought orange seeds to the new world. 
  • Orange peel can remove grease and oil spots.  
  •  Historians and linguists believe that the original name of orange was red-yellow, yellow-red, or simply red. 


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