The Orange Tree
The orange tree has a strong link with our island Mallorca, specifically with Sóller, a town known for its production of sweet and juicy oranges, which have been grown in the region for centuries. The history of orange growing in Sóller dates back to the 13th century when the Arabs introduced the cultivation of oranges and lemons to the island of Mallorca. During the Middle Ages, Sóller became an important centre of orange production, thanks to its warm, sunny climate and its location in a valley protected by the mountains.
In the 19th century, the construction of the Sóller railway enabled the region’s oranges to be easily transported to other markets on the island and on the European continent. The Sóller railway, with its winding route and vintage style, has become an emblematic symbol of the town and is still in operation today.
Today, orange production is still an important activity in and around Sóller, and oranges from the region are highly valued for their flavour and quality. Sóller oranges are used to make marmalades, liqueurs, essential oils, and other local products, and can be found in the region’s markets and shops. In fact, the essential orange oil we produce at Viti Vinci is a product derived from local oranges. In addition, every year the Orange Fair is held in Sóller, in honour of this special fruit.
The Orange Fair, or Fira de la Taronja, is an annual event held in April, during the second or third weekend, depending on each year’s calendar. It is a unique opportunity to enjoy the culture and gastronomy of the region, as well as to learn about the importance of the orange in the economy and tradition of this place.
During the fair, there are various activities related to oranges and agriculture: a market of oranges and local products, an exhibition of agricultural machinery and tools, a jam and liqueur competition, a competition to beat the Guinness World Record for the largest amount of orange juice squeezed by hand, workshops for children and adults, tastings, a parade of floats, concerts, dance and live music performances, sports competitions, and other activities that complement the fair. It is a unique celebration that offers a complete experience for all visitors, combining cultural, gastronomic and entertainment activities.
Focusing again on the orange tree, botanically known as Citrus sinensis, it is a species of fruit tree belonging to the Rutaceae family. In addition to the fruit, the orange tree is a valuable source of essential oils, which are extracted from various parts of the tree, such as leaves, flowers, and fruit peels. Here are the three main essences that can be extracted from the orange tree:
- Orange essential oil: obtained by cold-pressing orange peels, orange essential oil is used in aromatherapy for its relaxing and energising properties. Orange essential oil has a sweet, fresh and citrusy aroma.
- Orange blossom or neroli essential oil: obtained by steam distillation of the blossoms of the orange tree. It has a delicate, floral, and exotic aroma.
- Petitgrain essential oil: obtained by steam distillation of the leaves and branches of the orange tree. It has a fresh, woody, and slightly floral scent.
All three are used in perfumery and personal care products, and we include them in our high-quality perfumes and neurocosmetics.
These essences are highly prized for their aroma and therapeutic properties, such as anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, relaxing, antiseptic and digestive properties, as well as being an excellent mood elevator. Additionally, because of their beneficial properties for skin and hair, such as astringent, antioxidant, toning, and moisturising properties, as well as helping to strengthen and shine hair, and soothe dry scalp.
It is important to remember to always dilute orange essential oil before applying it to the skin or hair, and to use it with caution and following expert instructions.
Finally, and as a curious fact, the orange tree has been associated with the Garden of the Hesperides, a mythical garden in Greek mythology. The orange tree is believed to be a descendant of this mythical tree, and its fruit is often considered a symbol of abundance, beauty, and immortality.
According to legend, the Hesperides were nymphs charged with tending a garden located in the Fortunate Isles, a mythical place in the west of the known world. In the centre of the garden grew a sacred tree that produced golden apples, known as the tree of the Hesperides.
In some versions of the legend, the sacred tree in the Garden of the Hesperides is described as an orange tree, rather than an apple tree. The oranges of this tree were said to be so sweet and juicy that they provided eternal youth to those who ate them.
It has been suggested that the Garden of the Hesperides may have existed on Mallorca, a Spanish island in the western Mediterranean. This theory is based on the fact that the island was known for its abundance of oranges, and that the name ‘Hesperides’ derives from the Greek word for ‘west’, which could refer to Mallorca’s location in the western Mediterranean.
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