Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) vs Sweet Orange (Citrus Sinensis)

Citrus aurantium and Citrus sinensis are two of the most popular kinds of citrus fruits. Many people think that these two citrus varieties are the same, well for the most part they are. But they also have a number of differences that can matter if you plan to cultivate any of these two oranges.

Height of the Tree

Citrus aurantium, more commonly known as bitter orange, has evergreen foliage and can grow up to a maximum of 25 feet in height. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, there is Citrus sinensis or what is widely known as sweet orange. Depending on the particular sub-variety, a sweet orange tree has evergreen leaves and can reach up to about 40 feet.

Methods of Propagation

To propagate Citrus aurantium, you have to start from planting seeds. Propagation by seeds has always been the way for bitter orange. But now, you can find grafted seedlings that can reach fruit-bearing stage faster.

Meanwhile, Citrus sinensis is propagated mainly by using grafted cultivars. Sure, there are planters who opt to start with fresh sweet orange seeds. But many vendors sell them as grafted seedlings.

Main Uses

Citrus aurantium is valued for its essential oils. This type of citrus fruit is typically used in perfumes and aromatherapy products. Bitter orange has also found its way into cooking where it is used for flavoring. It is also found to have antiviral characteristics and has been used as herbal medication. Moreover, bitter orange has become a main ingredient in many weight loss products as it has been proven to suppress appetite.

Citrus sinensis, on the other hand, has largely been consumed as fruit, either fresh or processed. Its extract has been a mainstay in many breakfast tables, which everyone knows as orange juice. Sweet orange can also be found in the form of jelly, ice cream, or even cake flavoring. The flowers of this type of orange can also be made into tea. Sweet orange is a good source of Vitamin C and other beneficial flavonoids.


In ancient cultures and even in many countries today, bitter and sweet orange names have been derived from completely different words. For the Greeks, the bitter variety is called neratzi, while the sweet one is known as portokali. Even the Persians have different names for these two varieties. The reason for the past and existing differences in etymology is that Citrus aurantium has been brought to Europe by Persians, while Citrus sinensis has been introduced to the Old World by the Portuguese.

Flavoring Orange Ale

When making orange ale, some people settle for sweet orange peel for added flavor. But many experts agree that Citrus aurantium rind can add more zest and even lessen the unpleasant tartness of the brew.