An orange is made up of segments, but what is the word for the small tear-drop shaped pieces that comprise the segment itself — within each segment membrane?

If you break a segment in half you can see these pieces all stacked together. This structure and elements are common across all citrus fruits so I would expect there to be a name for them.

  • What's the context you're looking to use this word in? I suspect in a cooking context (such as a recipe), "segment" is the proper word to use, for example.
    – Joe
    Jul 2, 2015 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


The word is vesicles; those within the supremed segments you are referring to are the juice vesicles, while those in the rind (well, the flavedo), are the oliferous vesicles. Each is a little bladder or sac filled with some sort of fluid, respectively juice and oil. The juice vesicles are actually modified hair cells.

The website www.speciale.it has an article on Citrus Fruit that offers this diagram:

diagram of orange from www.speciale.it

And explains:

Under the epidermis, we find the flavedo, characterised by its yellow, green or orange colour. The flavedo contains the oliferous vesicles on the inside and are very fine and fragile; the essential oil contained within can be collected by scraping on the flavedo layer. Under the flavedo, we find the albedo made up of tubular-like cells and which combine together to constitute the tissue mass compressed into the intercellular area.

Note that the text and diagram do not match up: the aromatic vesicles described in the text should be the oil sacs out in the rind, not the juicy ones within the segment.

A similar diagram can be found at www.citrusbr.com:

diagram from www.citrus.br.com

  • 2
    A simple mnemonic device for remembering this word is: The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!
    – tchrist
    Jul 2, 2015 at 14:00
  • 1
    By the account your quote (though contradicted by the same site's own diagram), oliferous vesicles are quite distinct from juice vesicles, and the latter are what the OP sought a name for. Oliferous vesicles are found in the rind, not the segments--and when you bend and pinch the rind, with its glossy side outwards, you can see their contents spraying out in a fine mist. Jul 2, 2015 at 14:09
  • 5
    "Vesicles" is about the least appetizing word that I could think of for what are basically little flavor explosions. Jul 2, 2015 at 14:14
  • @BrianDonovan I agree that the oliferous (=aromatic) vesicles should be those containing the fragrant oils out in the flavedo, while the juice vesicles should be those within the supremed segments containing the breakfast drink. However, the diagram has arrows that conflict with the text description. Further research may be required to divine just how many sorts of vesicle a citrus fruit contains. :)
    – tchrist
    Jul 2, 2015 at 14:14

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