All species are extremely important for their fruit, which is eaten fresh or processed in numerous ways.
An industrial extract of grapefruit seeds and pulp is used to produce a potent topical antibacterial and fungicidal agent.
Fruit juices of all species can be used in beverages. Lemon and sweet orange leaves are boiled to make tea. In Egypt and elsewhere, sour orange juice has been fermented to make wine.
Citrus species are important in traditional Pacific island medicine. In Samoa, a leaf infusion made from sweet orange is used against mouth sores in infants (Goethesson 1997). Citron leaves are used together with other plant parts to make infusions for treating stomach and skin ailments (Whistler 1996).
Also in Samoa, a sweet orange bark infusion is used to treat postpartum sickness, serious flu, and internal injuries (Whistler 1996). In Tonga, an infusion of sweet orange leaves, usually together with leaves of mango, Glochidion ramiflorum, Diospyros major, and/or the bark of breadfruit, is used as a potion to treat “relapse sickness,” mostly affecting postpartum women (Whistler 1992). In Tahiti, citrus leaves are used for internal ailments and fractures.
In Fiji, the scraped root of pummelo is used to treat hemorrhoids. In the United States, citrus is suggested as part of a healthy diet because of its high vitamin C content and its lycopene and flavonoids, which are known to reduce prostate and breast cancer risk, reduce viral effects and inflammation, and improve capillary activity and cholesterol levels.
Most species have value as flavorings. For example, lime and lemon are commonly used to marinate raw fish and to flavor food. Whole limes are also pickled as a relish (achar) for curry. Sour orange skin and flesh is used to make marmalade. Kaffir lime leaves are used as a flavoring in cooked sauces.
Citrus is one of the most important honey plants in many parts of the world. In California, for example, citrus has been said to constitute 25% of honey production (Morton 1987).
The pulp and other by-products from juice production are used as cattle feed. The seeds and peels are dried, then physically pressed and cooked into pellet-shaped feed for cattle in the United States. Birds are known to feed on varieties with seedy fruit.
All species have fragrant flowers, which are very pleasant in a homegarden.
Pummelo and sweet orange wood is used in light construction (Clarke and Thaman 1993). Sour orange wood is hard, fine grained, and valued for cabinetry and turnery (bowls, etc.). In Cuba, sour orange is made into baseball bats (Morton 1987).
Citrus as fuelwood is generally of minor importance in the Pacific islands. Pummelo wood is considered a good firewood.
Wood of wild orange was used for axe handles and canes in Samoa (Walter and Sam 2002). Lemon wood is used for tool handles (Clarke and Thaman 1993). Wild orange wood is used as the anvil in tapa pounding in Samoa (Whistler 2000). Wood of Kaffir lime and pummelo has been noted as having importance for craft wood (Thaman et al. 2000).
Sweet orange and Kaffir lime flowers are sometimes used in garlands in the Pacific islands (Thaman et al. 2000 and Clarke and Thaman 1993).
Kaffir lime has been noted as having potential in this regard (Thaman et al. 2000).
The macerated pulp and leaves of wild orange were used as a shampoo in Guam, Samoa, and Fiji (Walter and Sam 2002). In Guam, Stone (1970) noted that the pulp was used for washing clothes and hair. Stone (1970) also wrote that Kaffir lime has the same uses as wild orange and sour orange.
In Chuuk, the pounded roots of a citrus species known locally as kurukur, are mixed with the leaves, bark, and fruit of other plants to make a perfumed precipitate (called soonen ayis) for scenting necklaces, headbands, hair, and body (Merlin and Juvik 1996).
Oils in the peel, leaf, and flower are used in cosmetics and as medicinals. The flowers of sour orange yield neroli oil, which is very important in the perfume industry (Morton 1987). Solvents extracted from citrus peels, particularly oranges, are used in general-purpose cleaners, hand cleaners, furniture polishes, soaps, and pet shampoo. Orange oil is also used for fragrance in air fresheners, candles, and aromatherapy.
The whole fruits of pummelo are used for toys (wheels, etc.). In Samoa, the fruits of sour orange are used in a game called te ‘aga, wrapped with a piece of beach hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) bark fiber (Whistler 2000).
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