Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Citrus is considered to originate from south-eastern Asia, China and the east of Indian Archipelago (Swingle, 1943; Webber et al., 1967). The true Citrus species are native to the "Citrus belt" which is extending from the Himalayan foothills of Pakistan and India to North Central China and the Philippines in the East; Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, New Guinea, Northeastern Australia, and New Caledonia in the Southeast. Citrus species have been subjected to natural hybridization and cultivation which makes it difficult to ascertain the origin of the main commercial Citrus species.

Cooper and Chapot (1977) considered that almost all known Citrus fruit cultivars originated in China, with the exception of grapefruit and lemon. Fortunella is native to southern China, Poncirus to central and northern China. The pummelo (C. grandis) and mandarin have been mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as during the Ta Ya reign (2205-2197 B.C). The Citron (C. medica) is native to southern China and India and it was the first Citrus fruit to be introduced into Europe and used by the ancient Romans as a flavoring agent. Citrons reached Europe in about 300 B.C. and they were mentioned by Theophrastus who called them PERSIAN or MEDIAN APPLES. It was Pliny who gave them the name CITRON, which Linnaeus adopted and used for the whole genus. The Citron was probably cultivated in Egypt 1500 B.C., in Babylonia 4000 B.C., and in Media, from which it was introduced to the Near East and Greece during the time of Alexander the Great (Webber et al, 1967). The Citron is still found in India under wild conditions particularly in Nilgiris, Assam and lower Himalayas (Chaudhry et al. 2004).

The sour orange (C. aurantium) probably native to Southeast Asia, while the sweet orange (C. sinensis) is indigenous to Southern China. The sour orange was known to the Romans and Asians, and was introduced later on by Arabs to many countries, including Spain in the tenth century. The sweet orange was not reported to be introduced in Europe until the fifteenth century. The lemon (C. limon) was originated in Southeast Asia and was brought to Europe during the Middle Ages (in the twelfth or thirteenth ccntury); it was known by the Arabs in the tenth century A.D. It was introduced into America by Columbus himself, who took it to Haiti on his second Voyage of discovery in 1493 (Brouk, 1975). The lime (C. aurantifolia) is native to the East Indian archipelago. The grapefruit (C. paradisi) appeared in the West Indies, presumably, during the end of the eighteenth century as a natural hybrid between puininelo and sweet orange (Robinson; Albach and Redman, 1969; Barrett and Rhodes, 1976 and Swingle, 1943).The name grapefruit first appeared in records of 1814 from Jamaica (Brouk, 1975). Orange, Lemon, and Pummelo reached South Africa in the mid-seventeenth century and Australia at the end of the eighteenth ccntury. The famous Japanese variety Unshu has been in existence for more than 300 years (Webber et al, 1967).

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