CITRUS sinensis 'Tarocco'
Plant Common Name
Orange, Tarocco Blood Orange
A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine and many people agree. The juice of sweet oranges has become a dietary staple of millions worldwide. No trees of Citrus sinensis exist in the wild today, but probably originated in China, northeastern India, and southeastern Asia. They were eventually moved along Asian trade routes to Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe where those of wealthy means established orangeries. Spaniards brought oranges with them to South America in the 1500s and from there they were introduced to the United States on several occasions. Today, this luscious fruit is grown commercially and in backyards in warm, subtropical regions the world over.
Sweet orange trees are medium to large, evergreen and have rounded crowns covered with glossy, elliptical, fragrant leaves occasionally with slightly winged stems and minute teeth along the edges. The branches sometimes have flexible, blunt thorns. Flowers appear from winter to spring and may be single or clustered. In bud they are red or purple-hued and open to reveal white fragrant blooms that are highly attractive to honeybees, which produce orange blossom honey.
The cultivar ‘Tarocco’ is a deep blood orange from Spain and one of the most popular grown. It produces medium to large-sized round fruit with thick, tight, orange skin; ‘Tarocco’ rarely has red or burgundy blushing on the skin. The flesh is richly flavored with notes of cherry, juicy, and nearly seedless. The color of the flesh is dark crimson or blood and stable, but requires cool nights to fully develop the color. The fruit ripens early to midseason and holds on the tree well. The trees have a rounded habit, are vigorous, and very productive. Blood oranges produce red tinted juice with a distinctive flavor.
Cold sensitive, orange trees prefer locations with warm, dry winters, and cool summers; they will tolerate temperatures a few degrees below freezing for only a few hours. They require full sun and are tolerant of most soils, even poor soils, with ample drainage. Though moderately drought tolerant once established, they must have regular applications of water for good fruit production. Regular fertilization is also required as they are heavy feeders. The trees are generally self-pruning and only require removal of water sprouts, low branches and damaged or crossing limbs. Orange trees need plenty of space for their crowns to grow. They are grafted on to rootstocks, which impart tolerances to soils, pests and climate conditions.
The whole of the orange tree is usable. The fruit is used culinarily and medicinally, the wood for furniture, the pulp for animal feed and the oil from the skin is extracted and used industrially, for cleaning, as a pesticide and to scent everything from soap to perfume. Plant sweet orange in tubs or as conservatory specimens where not hardy and in the home orchard for the versatile, tasty fruit and to attract the North America giant swallowtail butterfly which uses this and other citrus as larval food.