The varieties of oranges that can be cultivated in an orchard are numerous. But how do you make the right choice among the different types available? The orange is undoubtedly the most widespread citrus fruit in the world, which is why numerous cultivars have been selected over time. Some are typical of specific regions, while others are more common on an international scale.
In this article, we provide a complete overview of existing orange varieties, distinguishing them based on their characteristics.
Varieties of Navel Oranges
Varieties of navel oranges are characterized by fruits with a “navel” at the distal end, corresponding to a double or triple whorl in the flower’s carpels. These oranges are almost always seedless because the embryo sac degenerates, as does the mother tissue of the anthers. The membranes of the segments and vesicles are very thin. The juice yield is lower compared to many other orange varieties, and prolonged exposure to air can result in the formation of limonin, which can impart a bitter taste. Famous varieties in this group include Navel oranges. Here are the main ones around the world:
- Washington Navel. This is the original variety of navel oranges. Originated in Brazil in the early 1800s, it was transported to Washington in 1870 and from there to California, where a mother plant is still preserved today.
- Brasiliano. It is the Italian Washington Navel, a cultivar entirely Sicilian, with slightly prostrate vegetation. It produces oranges that ripen in December and persist on the tree until March.
- Navelina. An early ripening variety isolated in Spain from nursery stock imported from the United States.
- Navelate. A traditionally ripening variety selected in Spain.
- New Hall (early)
- Skaggs Bonanza (early)
- Tulegold (mid-season)
- Atwood (mid-season)
- Gillette (mid-season)
- Thomson Navel (early)
- Robertson (early)
- Golden Bucheye (early)
- Carter (mid-early)
- Lanelate (late)
- Fisher (early)
In Italy, among Navel orange varieties, it is recommended to choose from: Brasiliano, Navelina, New Hall, Lanelate
Varieties of Non-Naval Blond Oranges
The group of non-navel blond oranges includes varieties with or without seeds. Among the types with seeds, we have the classic Common Blond and Thorn Blond. These cultivars have a low juice yield and a high limonin content, which is accentuated by using bitter orange rootstock. The best variety is Valencia. It is the most widely cultivated type in the world. It produces fruit with few seeds, very juicy, suitable for both processing and fresh consumption. It matures very late, usually in April and May. Currently, the most commonly used clones of the Valencia variety are: Olinda and Campbell. Among the non-navel blond varieties of Italian origin, the most well-known are:
- Ovale Calabrese. It does not adapt well outside its regions of origin. The fruit is seedless, with low juice yield. It ripens late, and if left on the tree, it turns green again.
- Belladonna. Medium-early fruit ripening, seedless and very juicy orange.
Abroad, the most famous varieties in this group include:
- Salustiana, Cadenera, Verna (Spain)
- Shamouti (Israel)
- Pera and Natal (Brazil)
- Hamlin (Florida)
Varieties of Red Pigmented Oranges
Cultivars belonging to the varieties of red pigmented oranges are characterized by the red color of their segments. The color is due to the high presence of anthocyanins, water-soluble pigments that require sufficient cold, preferably with marked temperature fluctuations between day and night, to form. Red-orange varieties usually have poor adaptability outside their original environments. The fruits retain a certain level of acidity even when fully ripe. Their distribution is typically Mediterranean, especially in Italy, the world leader in red orange production. Here are the three main varieties:
- Tarocco. This is the most important pigmented cultivar. The Tarocco tree produces excellent oranges, juicy, seedless, maturing from December to March. Within this category, there are clones that differ in ripening time and coloration.
- Red Tarocco, with more intense pigmentation;
- Catania, Scirè, Galici, Reina, Giarretta, Lempso, maturing traditionally;
- Fondaconuovo, maturing early.
- Moro. This red orange variety is also well-known and widely grown in Italy. Harvesting always takes place by February because afterward, the color changes from red to brown, and the organoleptic qualities decline. Maturation begins in December.
- Sanguinello. Another beloved group of red Italian cultivars. The best ones produce seedless oranges. Maturation usually occurs from February onwards, but harvesting often continues until April. The most famous cultivar is Sanguinello Moscato.
- A variation of Sanguinello is the Sanguigni, known for their intensely red skin, even more so than the pulp. These varieties are obsolete as they are too full of seeds and not commercially desirable. The best is Doppio Sanguigna Signorelli.
The last group of orange varieties is the Vaniglia, cultivars that ripen fruits with low acidity. These varieties are generally inferior as they are rich in seeds, have thick and coarse skin, thick segment membranes, a bitter and persistent taste. An exception to these characteristics is a purely Sicilian variety, the Apireno di Ribera Vaniglia. This provides excellent seedless fruit, juicy, and without a bitter aftertaste. However, the tree has the drawback of certain alternating productivity.