Bitter orange Citrus × aurantium (F)

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
Seville orange


The plant commonly known as the bitter orange is known for its distinctive evergreen foliage, with leaves that have a glossy, leathery texture and a rich green color. The leaves are elongated and oval in shape, with slightly pointed tips. The margins of the leaves are somewhat wavy, which adds to the visual interest of the plant. Come spring, the bitter orange is adorned with fragrant flowers that are white and possess a waxy appearance. These flowers usually grow in small clusters and emit a strong, sweet aroma that attracts various pollinators. Following the flowering phase, the plant produces its notable fruit. The fruit has a rough, dimpled skin that can vary in color from green when unripe, to a vibrant orange as it matures. These fruits are usually round to slightly pear-shaped and have a thick, bitter-tasting rind. Inside, the flesh is separated into segments that are juicy, though the juice and flesh are notably sour and often too bitter for direct consumption. The fruit persists on the tree even after ripening, providing a splash of color amidst the greenery.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Bitter Orange, Seville Orange, Sour Orange, Bigarade Orange, Marmalade Orange

    • Common names

      Citrus aurantium, Citrus vulgaris, Citrus bigaradia, Citrus bigaradia var. daidai, Citrus bigaradia var. myrtifolia, Citrus daidai, Citrus daidai var. nothomargarita, Citrus aurantium var. amara, Citrus aurantium ssp. amara.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The Citrus × aurantium is commonly known as bitter orange or Seville orange. In general, the fruit of the bitter orange is not considered toxic to humans; however, the peel, leaves, and flowers contain essential oils and compounds like synephrine, which can be toxic in high amounts. If ingested in large quantities, these parts of the plant could potentially lead to symptoms such as nausea, headaches, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. The most significant risk associated with bitter orange often relates to its extract, which is used in some weight-loss supplements and may lead to cardiovascular issues when taken in concentrated amounts or in combination with other stimulants.

    • To pets

      The Citrus × aurantium, also called bitter orange, could be mildly toxic to pets if ingested in significant amounts. The essential oils and psoralens found in the peel, leaves, and flowers of the bitter orange can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and potential photosensitivity (increased sensitivity to light) in pets like dogs and cats. The fruit is not typically considered dangerous, but it is always best to exercise caution and avoid feeding your pets large quantities of any citrus fruit, due to the possibility of stomach upset or more severe reactions in some animals.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      10-30 feet (3-9 meters)

    • Spread

      10-20 feet (3-6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      Southeast Asia


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aromatic: The bitter orange tree produces fragrant flowers that are highly appreciated for their pleasant smell.
    • Ornamental Use: The tree's attractive foliage, flowers, and fruits make it a popular choice for decorative purposes in gardens and landscaping.
    • Culinary Use: The bitter orange is used in cooking and baking, especially in marmalades, candied peel, and certain traditional recipes.
    • Essential Oils: The peel, flower, and leaves are sources of essential oils used in perfumery, aromatherapy, and flavorings.
    • Beverage Flavoring: Bitter orange is used in a variety of beverages to impart a citrus flavor, including certain types of tea and cocktails.
    • Natural Dye: The peel can be used as a natural dye for fabrics and food.
    • Pollinator Attraction: The flowers provide a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Aromatherapy: Bitter orange oil is used in aromatherapy for its potential ability to reduce anxiety and improve mood.
    • Digestive aid: The fruit and peel of the bitter orange are used in some cultures to help with digestive issues such as indigestion and constipation.
    • Appetite Suppressant: Bitter orange extract has been used to suppress appetite, although its effectiveness and safety are debated.
    • Topical antifungal: Oil from bitter orange peel may have antifungal properties when applied to the skin, but its use is based on traditional use rather than extensive scientific studies.
    • Anti-inflammatory: Bitter orange contains flavonoids which are thought to have anti-inflammatory effects.
    • Antibacterial: Bitter orange oil has shown potential antibacterial activity in some studies.
    • Weight Loss: Some products containing bitter orange extract are marketed for weight loss, but the efficacy and safety of these products are controversial.
    • Congestion: Bitter orange is traditionally used to help relieve nasal congestion.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Citrus × aurantium, commonly known as bitter orange or Seville orange, can be used to make a natural, biodegradable insect repellent, as its essential oil contains compounds that are unpalatable to many pests.
    • The dried peel of bitter orange is used in potpourri and as a fragrance ingredient in perfumes, owing to its intense citrus scent.
    • Bitter orange extract is incorporated into cleaning products, giving them a fresh, citrus aroma and exploiting its solvent properties for dissolving grease and dirt.
    • As a traditional fabric dye, the rind of bitter orange has been used to impart a yellow or orange hue to textiles when mixed with other natural dyes.
    • The wood of the bitter orange tree is sometimes utilized in fine woodworking and furniture making, appreciated for its density and grain patterns.
    • Bitter orange blossoms are crafted into bridal bouquets or used as boutonnieres due to their aromatic fragrance and association with good fortune.
    • In landscaping, bitter orange trees are planted as ornamental trees or as hedges for their dense foliage and fragrant blossoms which can create pleasant, enclosed spaces.
    • Culinary artists sometimes use bitter orange leaves to infuse liquids with a subtle citrus flavor, similar to how bay leaves are used in cooking.
    • Traditional artists may use bitter orange juice as a natural pH indicator, observing color changes in response to acidic or basic substances in educational activities or artistic projects.
    • It is used as a natural polish for wooden furniture, leveraging the oil's ability to condition and protect the wood surface.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Bitter Orange is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Bitter Orange is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Prosperity: Bitter orange, as with many citrus fruits, is often associated with wealth and abundance. This symbolism comes from its golden color, which is reminiscent of coins and riches, and its historical value as a luxury item in trade.
    • Purity: The white blossoms of the bitter orange are symbolic of purity and innocence. They're often used in wedding bouquets and decorations to represent the pure union of the couple.
    • Good Luck: In some cultures, bitter oranges are given as gifts to bring good fortune. They may be exchanged during the Lunar New Year or used as part of traditional celebrations or rituals.
    • Healing: Bitter orange, like many citrus fruits, is high in vitamin C and is associated with healing properties. It has been used in traditional medicine to boost immunity and improve overall health.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Bitter orange trees, as Citrus × aurantium are commonly known, should be watered deeply and infrequently to encourage a strong root system. The top few inches of soil should be allowed to dry out before watering again. This typically means watering once every 7-10 days, but frequency can vary depending on temperature and weather conditions. Water with 1-2 gallons for young trees, increasing to 3-4 gallons for mature trees each watering session to ensure the root zone is thoroughly moistened.

  • sunLight

    Bitter orange trees thrive in full sun, meaning they require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. The best spot for them is an unobstructed south-facing location where they can receive ample sunlight throughout the year. Avoid placing them in areas with too much shade as this can diminish fruit production and overall health.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Bitter oranges are subtropical plants that prefer a consistent temperature range of 55°F to 85°F. They can withstand temporary drops down to about 20°F but are at risk of damage below that temperature. It is essential to protect them from frost and to ensure temperatures do not exceed 100°F for extended periods as extreme temperatures can stress the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Bitter orange trees should be pruned to maintain health, shape, and size, and to remove any dead or diseased branches. The best time to prune is in the spring, just before the new growth begins. Pruning should be done sparingly, as excessive cutting can reduce fruit production. Annually inspect the tree and selectively remove crossing branches and suckers.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Bitter orange thrives in well-draining, sandy, slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5. A mix of one-third peat, one-third sand, and one-third perlite or pine bark is suitable for potting.

  • plantRepotting

    Bitter orange should be repotted every two to three years or when the plant becomes root-bound. Repotting is best done in the spring.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Bitter orange prefers moderate to high humidity, with ideal levels ranging from 50% to 60%.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure bright light, well-draining soil, and consistent watering for indoors.

    • Outdoor

      Choose sunny spot, protect from frost, and water deeply but infrequently.

    • Hardiness zone

      9-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life cycle of the Bitter Orange (Citrus × aurantium) begins with seed germination, where the plant begins to emerge from a dormant seed when conditions are favorable, usually in warm, moist soil. This is followed by the seedling stage, where primary leaves and roots develop to establish the plant. As it matures into the vegetative stage, the bitter orange tree develops a woody stem, branches, and a leafy canopy through vigorous growth. After a few years, the tree enters the reproductive stage, characterized by the blossoming of fragrant white flowers that attract pollinators. Following pollination, the flowers develop into the fruit we recognize as oranges, which contain seeds that can disperse to begin new life cycles. The tree can live, flower, and fruit for many years, often several decades, in a repeating cycle of vegetative growth and fruiting.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Citrus × aurantium, commonly known as the bitter orange or Seville orange, is typically propagated during the warm season when soil temperatures are adequate for root development. One of the most popular methods of propagation for this plant is through bud grafting, also known as bud budding. This technique involves taking a bud from a mature, desirable citrus tree and grafting it onto the rootstock of a seedling or a young tree. The best time to perform bud grafting is late summer, as the bark slips easily and the growing conditions are conducive to healing and growth. The chosen bud, along with a small piece of the bark, is cut from the parent tree and carefully inserted under the bark of the rootstock tree. The grafted area is then wrapped with a bud tape or similar material to hold the bud in place and maintain the necessary humidity and warmth for successful union. Over the course of several weeks, the bud will begin to grow into a new shoot, eventually developing into a branch that bears the fruit characteristics of the parent tree.