Citrus bergamia Risso & Poit.

Last updated: 07 April 2016

Scientific Name

Citrus bergamia Risso & Poit.


Citrus aurantium subsp. bergamia (Risso & Poit.) Wight & Arn. Ex Engl., Citrus aurantium var. bergamia Loisel. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Bergamot, bergamot orange [2]
India Cheru-naranna, cherunaranga, cherunarakam, elumich-cham-pazham, elumichai, elumiccai, elumichhai, jambeeram, jambha, jambiraphalam, jonakam-naranna, kagdi limbu, limbay, limbuchhal, limu, limue-hamiz, limue-tursh, limun, lumum, nibu, nimbe-hannu, nimbu, nimma-pandu, nimmapandu, ninbu [2].

Geographical Distributions

Citrus bergamia is brought from the West Indies or Canary Islands to the Spanish town of Berga from where it was taken to Calabria in Italy, then a Spanish dependency. Others suggested that the origin of C. bergamia is from China or Turkey. [3]

Botanical Description

C. bergamia is a member of the Rutaceae family. It is a thorny tree grows up to 10 m tall. The plant is erect, unarmed, much branched up to 12 m tall, with trunk up to 25 cm in diameter. [3]

The leaves are alternate, simple, glandular, aromatic when bruised; petiole about 13 mm long, moderately winged, articulated near the blade; blade lanceolate, up to 12 cm x 6 cm, in upper third part weakly attended.[3]

The inflorescence terminal, racemose, many flowered; pedicel up to 8 mm long; flowers bisexual, 4—5(—10)-merous, fragrant; calyx cup-shaped with short lobes, yellow-green; corolla 3.8 cm in diameter, most often with 5, narrow-elongate, pure-white petals without any purple tinge; stamens (13—)21(—28), in (2—)4(—6) groups, sometimes petaloid; disk nectariferous; pistil with subglobose ovary, short and thick style, distinct to indistinct stigma. [3]

The fruits slightly flattened subglobose to pyriform berry (hesperidium), 6.5—7 cm x 6—7.5 cm, often with a small navel and a persistent style; peel 6—7 mm thick, with numerous glands, tough, smooth to rough, sometimes ridged, adherent, shiny green turning yellow when ripe; flesh yellowish, firm, very acid and bitter, divided into 8—14 segments. [3]

The seeds are (0-)3(-13) per fruit, flattened, measure 11 mm x 6 mm x 4.4 mm, pale yellow, usually monoembryonic. [3]


C. bergamia has been primarily grown in the South-Western tip of Calabria in southern Italy between the town of Villa San Giovanni and Brancaleone. This plant also is cultivated in Ivory Coast near Sassandra and Soubré and in Guinea on the Foutah Djallon plateau.  In northern Africa and Turkey bergamot is grown on a very minor scale. In South-East Asia its cultivation is not common. [3]

Chemical Constituent

Extract of C. bergamia fruits and leaves has been reported to contain (-)-linalyl acetate, (-)-linalool, (+)-limonene and gamma-terpinene. [4]

C. bergamia extract has been reported to contain o-xylene, α-thujene, α-pinene, ß-pinene, myrcene, limonene, p-cymene, γ-terpinene, terpinolene, linalool, perilla alcohol, limonene oxide, dihydrocarveol, acetic acid, octyl ester, linalyl acetate, carvone, neral, verbenyl acetate, eprilla aldehyde and geranial. [5]

Plant Part Used

Fruit peel. [6]

Traditional Use

C. bergamia has been traditionally used to treat malaria and worm infection. It has become used more recently for respiratory and renal infections. [7]

Preclinical Data


Insecticidal activity

The peel of C. bergamia has been demonstrated larvae mortality indicated that the extract may contain potential insecticidal properties. [8]

Antibacterial activity

Essential oil of C. bergamia has been demonstrated a potent antibacterial activity against Arcobacter butzleri. Of the oils tested, linalool of C. bergamia is the most effective to inhibit bacterial activity. [9]

A separate laboratory analysis examined C. bergamia oil against several bacterial strains known to cause food poisoning. Of the oils examined, C. bergamia demonstrated the strongest activity, with bergamot result in the most effective inhibitory essential oil. [10]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Antihypertensive activity

A randomized, placebo-controlled study of 52 patients with essential hypertension was provided with bergamot, lavender and ylang ylang oils for four weeks. Markers of hypertension measured before and after treatment included serum cortisol levels, catecholamine levels and subjective stress. In addition, blood pressure and pulse were taken twice weekly. Researchers noted a statistically significant difference between the patient groups in all markers except catecholamine indicating a positive effect of inhaling these essential oils on some markers of hypertension. [11]

Anti depression activity

Fifty-eight terminal cancer patients were divided into two groups for daily hand massage with one group receiving massage with oils of bergamot, lavender and frankincense (experimental group) and one group receiving massage with carrier oil only (control group). Both groups received a five minute massage once per day for seven days. The experimental group demonstrated a greater reduction in depression and pain as compared to the control group. [12]


Avoid any external use before exposure to the sun. [7]

Side effects

No documentation.

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women. [7]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.

Interaction with drug

No documentation.

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


Bergamot oil is very phototoxic. [13][14][15]

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Citrus bergamia. [updated 2014, cited 2016 April 07] Available from
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 280-281.
  3. Ashari S. Citrus bergamia Risso & Poiteau. In: Oyen LPA, Nguyen XD, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 19: Essential-oil plants. Leiden, The Netherland: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 83-86.
  4. Melliou E, Michaelakis A, Koliopoulos G, Skaltsounis AL, Magiatis P. High quality bergamot oil from Greece: Chemical analysis using chiral gas chromatography and larvicidal activity against the West Nile virus vector. Molecules. 2009;14(2):839-849
  5. Veriotti T. High-speed characterization and analysis of orange oils with tandem-column stop-flow GC and time-of-flight MS. Anal Chem. 2002;74(21):5635-5640
  6. Tisserand R, Young R. Essential oil safety: a guide for health care professionals. Elsevier Health Science; 2013. p.211-213
  7. Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy science: a guide for healthcare professionals. Great Britain. Pharmaceutical Press; 2006. p. 126-128.
  8. Mwaiko GL. Citrus peel oil extracts as mosquito larvae insecticides. East Arf Med J. 1992;69(4):223-226.
  9. Fisher K, Rowe C, Phillips CA. The survival of three strains of Arcobacter butzleri in the presence of lemon, orange and bergamot essential oils and their components in vitro and on food. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2007;44(5):495-499.
  10. Fisher K, Phillips CA. The effect of lemon, orange and bergamot essential oils and their components on the survival of Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus in vitro and in food systems. J Appl Microbiol. 2006;101(6):1232-1240.
  11. Hwang JH. The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006: 36(7):1123-1134. Korean.
  12. Chang SY. Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2008;38(4):493-502. Korean.
  13. Knott E. Purely natural: phototoxic dermatitis. MMW Fortschr Med. 2007;149(6):36. German.
  14. Kejlová K, Jírová D, Bendová H, et al. Phototoxicity of bergamot oil assessed by in vitro techniques in combination with human patch tests. Toxicol In Vitro. 2007;21(7):1298-1303.
  15. Placzek M, Frömel W, Eberlein B, Gilbertz KP, Przybilla B. Evaluation of Phototoxic Properties of Fragrances. Acta Derm Venereol. 2007;87(4):312-316.