Oranges and Mandarin Oranges

***** Location: Kenya, other areas
***** Season: various, see below
***** Category: Plant


In Kenya, oranges (Swahili : Mchungwa)
are a kigo for the cool dry season.

While imported oranges are nowadays available all year round, the Kenya grown oranges are ripe in the cool dry season and are the most popular oranges in Kenya..

Kenya does not have an ideal climate to grow oranges, since it lacks a sufficiently cold season. Oranges are less beautiful to behold than those grown in more temperate climates, with slightly rough skins, staying on the yellow-green side. They are therefore not exported, and the entire orange harvest is available to the Kenyan population.

Oranges are popular in Kenya, and are sold at roadside stalls, usually in piles of 4 or 5 fruit, at very affordable prices. Passers-by who have bought them, may decide to consume one immediately, sucking the flesh and the juice from the fruit quartered by the hawker.

As the fruit are slightly bitter, they are also well suited to making marmalade, which is cooked in many larger households and in small businesses in the country and is both popular and tasty.

Orange juice, orange squash, orange pop and orange flavoured sweets are also much enjoyed in Kenya, but have only the name in common with the orange fruit. A friend of mine, who once learnt how to produce orange squash for sale, was shocked to realise that this contained only chemicals and water -- and asked her children never to drink it again!

Other citrus fruit which grow well in Kenya, are the lemon, the lime and the tangerine. The lemon is juicy and full of flavour, while the lime is delicious, and is used for fresh drinks, as well as in several fish recipes.

Isabelle Prondzynski


Citrus sinensis -- Orange tree

Exotic, native to southern China, Vietnam

Local names : Mchungwa (Swahili), Muchungwa (Luganda)

A shrub or small tree, growing 4-6 m in height; it is widespread in regions with tropical and temperate climates.

Bark : Grey-brown; branches greenish brown, armed with spines.
Leaves : Simple; alternate; spicily aromatic when crushed.
Flowers : Small; regular; 5 white petals; free; scented; attract bees.
Fruit : A hesperidium (as in all citrus); green to orange when ripe.
Uses : The family Rutaceae includes the orange (citrus sinensis), lemon (citrus limon), tangerine (citrus reticulata), grapefruit (citrus paradisi) and lime (citrus aurantifolia). All citrus fruits are juicy, full of Vitamin C, and used to make jams, jellies, marmalade and fruit squash. Wood is used as firewood. Flowers, leaves and peel produce aromatic oil.

Najma Dharani
Field Guide to common trees and shrubs of East Africa, Cape Town 2002.

Worldwide use

Florida (USA)
oranges (the fruit)
kigo for winter

orange blossoms are around in February.

evening stroll
the scent of orange trees

Judith Gorgone
WKD Facebook, November 2009



mikan 蜜柑 (みかん) tangerine, oranges, grapefruit
Mikan, mandarin orange with more kigo
Kankitsu, kankitsurui かんきつるい (柑橘類) citrus fruit

samaa orenji サマーオレンジ summer orange
kigo for early summer

Orange juice, Orange squash,
orenji sukasshu オレンジスカッシュ
kigo for all summer

A cold drink, usually with ice cubes.



kigo for winter

Traditionally oranges and tangerines are december fruits in Turkish markets.
WKD : Turkey Saijiki

Things found on the way


During the national referendum on the proposed new Constitution in 2005, the symbols allocated to the “yes” and “no” campaigns, were the banana and the orange, respectively. Several political groupings got together under the orange banner, and adopted the name of the Orange Democratic Movement. Having won the referendum, they continued their joint activities and are currently in the process of becoming a new political party.


The colour orange is very popular in Kenyan textiles, particularly among the Kikuyus and Maasais. Traditional wraparound cloths, called kanga, often use yellow and orange patters in the ever changing designs.

Bahati Secondary School students in a drama performance


Mchungwa can also be a term of endearment by a boy for the girl of his love. In the mid 1990s, a series of highly popular Kikuyu stories and songs about a girl named Gachûngwa (“little orange”) delighted the country, stayed at the top of the pops for many weeks and was played all over the matatus (minibuses) and village homes.

Text and photo : Isabelle Prondzynski


in the orange grove --
heart singing in prayer

Isabelle Prondzynski


mummy and daddy
sucking fresh orange juice
sharing a happy moment

Susan Wangui (Bamboocha)

I suck the juice sac
from the sweet fleshy orange --
flies buzz past my face

Cyprian Awino (Bamboocha)

orange in a market
crowded by students shouting
yellowish one is mine

Solomon (Falcon)

ODM at a rally
a crowd gather cheering as
they throw oranges

Beatrice (Falcon)

my grandfather's beard
stained with orange juice --
his sticky lips

Catherine Njeri (Bamboochas)

juicy finger tips,
sucking lips --
orange peels in the compound

Hisseini Haji (Peacock)

jovial faces
sticky fingers and mouths --
orange snacks

Beth Mwangi (Peacock)

sharp thumb nail
cuts the yellow orange peel-
juice flows down the elbow

Anne Nechesa (Patron, Peacocks)

choked by thistles as
Tom carries a basket of oranges
down a tree

Patrick Wafula (Patron, Bamboochas)

a plate of food on one hand
an orange on the other --
what a meal

Anthony Njoroge

my brother comes in
with an orange in his hand --
how selfish he looks!

Agnes Adhiambo (Peacock)

Soweto market-
a big orange attracts me
to the stall

Brian Mulando in August 2012

More ORANGES HAIKU from Kenya are here !


tiny sour oranges--
a kabuki actor
with bleached hair

© Fay Aoyagi - Roadrunner Magazine


winter picnic
another orange peel
hits the compost

oranges and sunshine
he runs his bare toes
through the grass

orange alert
children surround the bowl
of tangerines

Copyright © 2000-2005 by Heather Madrone .

Related words

***** Mandarin Oranges, mikan みかん、蜜柑

blossoms of the mandarin oranges, mikan no hana
flowering mikan, hana mikan 花蜜柑
kigo for early summer

I remember driving through some islands of the Inland Sea of Japan, famous for its mikan plantations on the steep hills, where the smell of the mikan flowers was so strong in the air ! The flowers are rather small and hardly to be seen, but the nose was enchanted !
Gabi Greve

ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

mandarin orange, the fruit, mikan 蜜柑
Mikan, mandarin orange (kigo list)
kigo for all winter
the fruit of Citrus reticulata, eaten almost on a daily basis in Japan.

Click HERE for some photos


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Gabi Greve said...

I have just enjoyed a glass of freshly pressed orange juice :

a juicy blend --
Outspan and Spania
mingle seasons

One orange South African, one Spanish. The Southern winter is handing over to the Northern winter. It is not often that one can combine
both in the one glass!
A real sign that we are at the very moment of seasonal change.

Isabelle Prondzynski


Anonymous said...

Her fingers
I taste in the orange
she peels

Ram Krishna Singh, India


Anonymous said...

Moro oranges --
drinking in the views
of Mount Etna

At the end of January, the Moro oranges from Sicily in Italy, growing in the foothills of the beautiful volcano Etna, become available in Europe for a few short weeks. These oranges have a red flesh and a sharp taste and are altogether better and more highly valued than the oranges available for the rest of the year.

Isabelle Prondzynski