A lot of our visitors are choosing a hike on the Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete for the tropical plants, the cherry trees garden, our extraordinary vineyards or even for a relaxing stroll in an environment of lush vegetation with a lake and rare animals species, such us the famous Cretan wild goat (Kri- Kri). In this tribute we will be focusing on the citrus trees garden which is found inside our park.
Citrus Trees: Botanical Characteristics.
Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete has a wide variety of citrus trees from all over the world. In our park you can admire plain orange trees, up to Kumquat, lemon trees, grapefruit, as well as rare derivatives such as the hand of Buddha.
Citrus trees are perennial trees and have leaves all year round. They thrive in mediterranean, tropical or semi tropical climates, and they belong to the botanical genre of Rutaceae. In the consciousness of Cretan people citrus trees are characterized as sour due to their bitter taste that most of them have.
Oranges: Crete’s Trademark.
Orange trees are maybe the most widely known citrus trees species that grow on Crete as of the past decades it was one of the main export agricultural products of the island. Especially in Chania, orange trees have huge significance as for many of our mainland villages it was their main production. Orange cultivation was so widespread that many villages were on the verge of losing their native name, and were commonly referred as orange tree villages. Such villages were Agyia, Kyrtomado, Fournes, Skines, Vatolakkos, Alikianos and many others near the area of Omalos where our Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete is located.
Lemon: Paramount on everyday cooking.
One of the most renowned citrus trees being cultivated in Crete is lemon. Lemon is used extensively in cooking and in Mediterranean or Cretan cuisine. It has unique antioxidant properties and is also being used in pastry and in juice making. Main lemon varieties being cultivated in Crete, as well as in our Botanical Park , are Adamopoulou and Zampetakki, varieties very famous for their juice quality and quantity.
Kumquat: The unknown.
A relatively unknown – but with excellent quality fruits- citrus tree is Kumquat. In Greece, it is mainly cultivated in Corfu and is being used mainly in Liqueur production or in Jams. The tree is small in dimensions, with small -oval shaped fruits – that can be eaten direct from the tree. Its unique tasting fruits is widely known and Chinese were also referring to this citrus tree as the golden orange. In botanical park and gardens of crete we cultivate a wide variety of Kumquat which are also used in a unique way on many salads of our restaurant.
Grapefruit: A nutritional treasure.
Yellow and Red grapefruit varieties can also be seen in our gardens in Omalos plateau. Although being cultivated in small amounts in Greece, GrapeFruit originated from Barbados is rich in Vitamin C and can be consumed on its own or as juice in combination with other citrus trees such as oranges.
How do we multiply citrus trees?
Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete hosts manu citrus trees of many varieties, irrelevant to the ones stated above. A question that many visitors always ask us is how we multiply citrus trees in order to make another plantation. There are many methods of multiplication, with the most common being seed sprouting or air layering .
Planting citrus tree seeds (usually bitter orange or Citrus Volkameriana) we start to grow a small tree. This tree after several months of being developed and the tree trunk getting bigger, can be successfully grafted with a selected variety of other citrus tree.With this technique we have a new tree, with strong characteristics (disease resistant, cold resistant etc) and the variety we selected as well.
Air layering is being done after we injure one of the selected tree’s branches. By inserting a plastic bag full of mulch and keeping it wet while carefully strapped around the tree branch, this specific branch will gradually start to grow roots. Then we cut this brunch and we plant it accordingly.
We invite you to try the last method of multiplication on your own, as it requires no technical skills. By visiting Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete (map) it is very common to see on air graftings that we usually do on our gardens, and you can also learn more about this technique by watching this educating video .