Orange Is The State Fruit Of Florida. Florida designated the orange as the official state fruit in 2005 due to the efforts of teacher Janet Shapiro and her students at Southside Elementary School. They realized that although the orange blossom was the state flower and orange juice the state beverage, Florida had no state fruit. Florida State Fruit oranges are a major part of Florida’s economy.
Florida produces the majority of citrus fruit grown in the United States (in 2006, 67 percent of all citrus, 74 percent of oranges. About 95 percent of commercial orange production in the state is processed (mostly as orange juice). There are roughly 85 million State Fruit Of Florida orange trees around the state. Over 100,000 Floridians are employed in the citrus industry, which generates more than $8 billion in economic activity annually. Throw in the fact that oranges and orange juice are nutritious and taste great, it is only fitting that the orange takes its long-overdue place amongst Florida’s official symbols.
The sweet Florida State Fruit orange, like most citrus, is native to subtropical Southeast Asia. The Arabians were the first people to mention citrus in their writings, and our word for this fruit is derived from their Sanskrit name. The Moors brought these plants to Spain, where they were used medicinally and in religious services.
Although the bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) reached Europe by the 1000s, the sweet orange did not arrive in India until 1330 and was planted in Versailles in 1421. Columbus transported Florida State Fruit oranges to South America in 1493, and by 1587 Cuba was covered with these beautiful trees. It was the Spanish Missionaries who brought this highly prized fruit to California, establishing the first State Fruit Of Florida orange groves in the 1700s.
Characteristics of the Florida Orange:
Leaf: The leaves are shiny and leathery, oblong to elliptic, up to 4″ long, and have narrow wings on their petioles (leaf stems).
Fruit: A large, round multiple of drupes that is 4 to 5 inches in diameter. The fruit is roundish, golden-yellow or tawny, and several-celled, with a fleshy, juicy pulp; the seeds white and several. The cysts in the rind are convex (L.). The fruit has a very distinctive citrus smell.
Twig: The twigs on many orange cultivars are thorny.
Bark: Bark of a greenish-brown color, having axillary spines on the branches.
Form: The sweet orange is a compact evergreen tree 20-30′ tall with a rounded, symmetrical crown spreading 15-20′ or so.