Broad, green leaves and spherical, orange fruit
Citrus × aurantium

Bitter orange

Family: Rutaceae
Other common names: 甜橙 (Chinese, traditional), mandarin (English), marmalade orange (English), orange (English), Seville orange (English), tangerine (English), oranger (French), نارنج (Persian), laranja-amarga (Portuguese), naranja (Spanish)
IUCN Red List status: Not Evaluated

Bitter orange is an evergreen tree cultivated throughout the world for its round, orange or green fruit.

These prized fruits are a vital ingredient in marmalade and liqueurs such as Triple Sec.

Evergreen tree with small thorns; broad, green leaves; and large, white, fragrant flowers. Its spherical fruit have a thick, orange or sometimes green peel. The juicy pulp is orange in colour and can taste sweet or sour.

Read the scientific profile on orange

Beauty and cosmetics

Bitter orange essential oil is used in skin care products because of its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Bitter orange is also used to fragrance perfume and hair care products with notes of citrus.

Food and drink

The raw pulp of bitter orange is inedible, but the fruit is used to make marmalade and was in early recipes of duck à l’orange. 

Bitter orange oil is also used as a flavouring agent in foods and liqueurs and the fruit peel is used as a seasoning.

  • Bitter orange is an artificial hybrid - it was produced by breeding two different plants together. So it does not have a native range but it is widely cultivated throughout the world.

Map of the world showing where bitter orange is native and introduced to
Introduced: Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Cambodia, Canary Islands, Cayman Islands, Central American Pacific Islands, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Islands, Haiti, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Korea, Laos, Leeward Islands, Libya, Madeira, Mauritius, Mexico Southeast, Morocco, Myanmar, New Caledonia, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rodrigues, Réunion, Santa Cruz Island, Socotra, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Tajikistan, Tibet, Trinidad-Tobago, Tunisia, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Wallis-Futuna Islands

Kew Gardens

A botanic garden in southwest London with the world’s most diverse living plant collection.


North Wing of the Temperate House

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Best time to see
Flowers: Apr, May, Jun
Fruits: Jul, Aug, Sep
Foliage: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Other plants


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The geographical areas mentioned on this page follow the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD) developed by Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG).