Citrus originates in Asia, though taxonomists have never conclusively traced the lineage of the fruit directly to its wild ancestors. This is largely due to the malleable gene pool of the plants, which hybridize and mutate easily, a trait that has given rise to the tremendous diversity of citrus fruits we enjoy today.
Citrus species come in the form of prickly shrubs and trees and the essential oils contained in them can cause severe irritation when delivered subcutaneously by a thorn. The other side of their prickly, sour nature, however, is an irresistible tang — and their blossoms emit a sweetness that is nothing short of sublime.
Besides offering some of the world's most beloved fruit, the essential oils of citrus are a source of fragrance and flavoring for food and cosmetics. The oil extracted from orange blossoms is called neroli, while the leaves yield an aromatic substance called petitgrain. Limonene is a compound found in copious quantities in most citrus fruits and is extracted and isolated for use in lemon-scented cleaning products.
Neroli is one of the most highly regarded scents in the perfume industry and is also rumored to be one of the secret ingredients of Coca-Cola, along with oils derived from and lemon peel, nutmeg, coriander and cinnamon.