Ask Mehmet: Turunc trees

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Ask Mehmet is a forum for people to ask questions of the local area, as well as the outer confines of the region and the country as a whole. To submit a question, send an e-mail with the subject "Ask Mehmet" to Then, look for an answer to the question on the 39th Air Base Wing's official website at and Incirlik Air Base's Facebook page.

There is an orange tree in my front yard. I picked an orange to eat and, to my surprise, it was so sour that I couldn't eat it. Is it an orange tree or is it a type of lemon?

The tree in your front yard is a bitter orange tree and as you found out, it's very sour. It's called Turunc (to-roonch) in Turkish.

Turunc is the mother tree for all citrus trees. When you opened the fruit, you may have noticed that it has lots of seeds and it's very juicy.

Only seeds of Turunc trees grow into a citrus tree. For example, if you plant orange or lemon seeds, it won't grow into a tree. Therefore, Turunc seeds are planted and when the Turunc tree is still young it's grafted to any type of citrus; orange, tangerine, lemon or grapefruit tree.

Turunc juice serves the same purpose as lemon juice in many cases. People boil Turunc juice, which becomes dark black and thick, and use it year round in cooking. As with its juice, the skin of Turunc is used to make Turunc jam, which is quite popular in Adana and Antalya.

Citrus trees grow along the southern coastal part of Turkey, from Hatay-Iskenderun as far as Izmir on the Aegean. The streets of Adana used to be full of Turunc trees and in Tarsus they still are. In Tarsus they go to extremes in that matter. All streets and parks are filled with Turunc trees, since citrus trees keep green leaves year-round and look very nice.

Adana is one of the main citrus producers in Turkey. Oranges grow almost everywhere in Adana, from the sea shores of Mediterranean in the south to the mountainous field of Kozan in the north. You'll see newly-picked up oranges in the market from October through the summer in this area.

The smell of citrus tree blossoms is so magnificent that in spring, mostly in April, the city of Adana and other citrus growing cities smell like they were sprayed with perfume. Due to that great occasion, a 'Lemon Blossom Festival' is held in Adana every year. The festival is held during the second week of April and it is the first and only street festival of its kind.