Last updated on May 21st, 2023 at 10:52 pm
The orange blossom flower owes its name to the Sanskrit word “naranga,” meaning “orange tree.” The even older root of the word is of Dravidian origin. Through the Persian-related word “narang” and the Arabic word “naranj,” the name of this flower reached the European languages.
The orange tree cultivars range from dwarf varieties to six-meter-tall trees. The tree crown can spread to a diameter of up to 6 meters. The orange blossom flowers are beautiful, bright, and scented. They begin to develop over winter and usually blossom in spring. The nectar of the orange blossom flowers turns into high-quality honey.
The orange blossom flowers are small and grow in dense groupings or clusters. Their color is always white. Each flower has five waxy petals, five sepals, and 20–25 stamens arranged in a compact spiral. The leaves are green and glossy, with an oval or elliptical shape and wavy-toothed edges.
The orange tree is a subtropical species native to oriental Asia (India, China, and South-East Asia). The Italian and Portuguese traders introduced the tree to the Mediterranean, still widely spread across Spain, Italy, Morocco, and Tunisia. In the mid-sixteenth century, the orange tree was brought to the Americas. Today, orange trees grow worldwide.
What does the Orange blossom flower symbolize?
The orange blossom flower meaning includes love, purity, moral virtue, fertility, and paradise.
In Roman mythology, Juno gave orange fruits and blossoms to Jupiter on the day of their nuptials. In Greek mythology, Hera received orange blossom flowers as a wedding gift from the goddess Gaia at the time of her wedding to Zeus. Due to these myths, the orange fruit and the orange blossom flower have a strong symbolic association with the marriage ritual, wedding ceremonies, and celebrations.
Traditionally, in England, France, and America, the brides once attached head crowns or coronets made of orange blossom flowers to their veils. Prince Albert sent Queen Victoria a gold and porcelain brooch shaped like a sprig of orange blossoms.
In 1840, Queen Victoria wore orange blossom flowers at her wedding as a headdress and as part of her satin dress. This made the flowers exceptionally popular. In the 19th century, a new phrase was “to gather orange blossoms,” which meant “to seek a wife.”
The origins of this custom have been traced to the Saracens, who considered the orange blossom flower an emblem of a happy and prosperous marriage. On their way back from Persia, it is believed that the crusaders brought orange blossom flowers to their brides-to-be.
In one Spanish fairytale, a certain maiden, the daughter of a gardener at the Royal Palace, could not marry because she did not have enough dowry. Her fiancé was too poor and could not afford to support her.
One day, the French Ambassador visited the Spanish royal family. Upon seeing the beautiful blossoms of the orange tree in the garden, he wished to get a cut from this tree. The maiden promised to bring it to him in exchange for him helping her to get married.
The French Ambassador desired the orange blossom tree so much that he agreed to pay her a large sum for the coveted cutting. The maiden wore a chaplet of orange blossom flowers on her wedding day.
In Crete, orange blossom flower water is sprinkled over the bride and the broom. In Sardinia, there was a custom in which oranges were attached to the horns of the oxen, which drew the carriage with the newlyweds. In Mexico, a garland made of orange blossom flowers, twisted in the shape of figure eight, is placed around the necks of the newlywed couple.
The orange tree is one of the few trees where foliage, flowers, and fruit can be seen simultaneously. This fact impressed people so much that the orange blossom flower meaning became fullness, completion, and fertility.
Folkard reported that orange trees were once planted around the tombs in Tripoli, along with roses, jasmine, and myrtle. Also, a large bouquet of these flowers was fastened at the head of the coffins where a female rested.
Similarly, when a young woman died in Switzerland, the funeral wreath was made of orange blossom flowers, myrtle, and hawthorn. Therefore, another orange blossom flower meaning is associated with the afterlife.
It was often speculated what forbidden fruit Adam and Eve tasted from the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise. Interestingly, the orange is often mentioned as the most likely forbidden fruit among the apple, pomegranate, fig, and grape. As a result, another orange blossom flower meaning is the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Christian paradise.
To the Chinese, the orange blossom flower meant money, good luck, and prosperity.
All in all, the orange blossom flower symbolic meanings are:
- good luck
Meaning of the Orange blossom flower color
The orange blossom flowers are always white. According to the encyclopedic book “The Complete Language of Flowers” by Theresa Dietz, the white, orange blossom flower means innocence, purity, eternal love, marriage, fruitfulness, and generosity.
In the Victorian symbolic language of flowers, white, orange blossom flowers carried the message “your purity equals your loveliness.”
Interesting facts about the Orange blossom flowers
- Dried orange blossom flowers and leaves are also used to prepare an exquisite tea.
- The neroli essential oil, produced by distilling orange blossom flowers from the bitter orange variety, was named after Anne Marie Orsini, the Princess of Nerola, Italy. In the 17th century, the Princess was the first to use flower essence as a perfume. She added neroli to the bath water and perfumed her glasses with this oil.
- The King of France, Louis XIV, particularly liked the scent of the orange blossom flowers, as it soothed his chronic headaches. He also added the essence of orange blossom flowers to his drinks and sprinkled the orange flower perfume in his chambers, using silver syringes.
- The essential oils made from the orange blossom flower tree calm anxiety and are used to treat depression. One ton of orange blossoms yields only one kilogram of essential oil.
- The harvesting of orange blossom flowers is best done at dawn because, at that time, the odorous components of the flowers are most concentrated.
- Citrus tangerina, a variety of the orange tree known under the common name Mandarin orange or tangerine, has been cultivated in China for over three millennia.
- Along with the lemon, the sweet orange tree first arrived in the Americas with Columbus’ second voyage.
- Several renaissance paintings display oranges on the table during “The Last Supper.” Yet, this depiction is wrong since oranges were not cultivated in the Middle East until the 9th century.
- The orange blossom flower is the official flower of the American state of Florida.
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez used the symbolism of the orange blossom flower in his novel “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.” One of the protagonists, Angela Vicario, shamelessly wore orange blossom flowers in her gown on her wedding day despite her lack of purity.
- June 27 is celebrated as National Orange Blossom Day in the United States.
- Orange flower water was popular in Sicily in the 14th century. It was used as a scent for household linen.
- The motif of orange blossom flowers appears in sheet music, including “Orange Blossoms Waltz” by G. Ludovic and “Orange Blossom Time is June” by George Spink and W.R. Williams. Another popular title is “When It’s Orange Blossom Time in Loveland, I’ll Be Waiting at the Church for You” by Jeff Branen and Arthur Lange.
- The color orange was named after the fruit of the orange tree in the early 16th century.
- The scent of the orange blossom flower has also been considered an aphrodisiac.
- There is a French electronic and world music band named “Orange Blossom.”
How to grow Orange blossom flowers
Orange blossom is a fast-growing, resilient, and simple-to-grow shrub. It works well as a low glossy hedge or as a background plant. Butterflies and other beneficial insects will be drawn to the flowers.
- Plant the orange blossom in somewhat acidic, humus-rich soil and well-drained.
- Place them 2m apart in full sun to part shade, with the plant crown at soil level.
- Water the plant regularly until it becomes established.
- Apply general-purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring.
How to care for Orange blossom flowers
- Water the orange blossom plant when the top 2 inches of soil is dry.
- Let the soil dry between waterings since orange blossoms like to be kept dry and can die from overwatering.
- Mulch should be used once a year to keep moisture in and weeds out.
- In the spring, fertilize using a slow-release fertilizer.
- To preserve a thick growth habit, prune after flowering.
Best time to gift Orange blossom flowers
Traditionally, across cultures and geographies, orange blossom flowers have been used in marriages, which makes these flowers a perfect gift for weddings. They never come out of fashion and are still common in wedding celebrations.
Due to their white color and delicate, sweet scent, orange blossom flowers have also been perceived as a symbol of spirituality and the afterlife. Flower arrangements made of these blossoms are often brought to funerals.
Whether making a bouquet for your home or selecting flowers for your next wedding, orange blossoms are a must-have. Its rich symbolic history and wonderful aroma can help you celebrate a special occasion or add sweetness to your daily life.