The Meaning of an Orange Blossom Flower

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Orange blossom flowers are white, star-shaped blooms.
Orange blossom flowers are white, star-shaped blooms. (Image: orange blossom,ladybug image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Many fruit trees are as beloved for their beautiful blossoms as for their flavorful fruits. This is especially true of orange trees, which produce star-shaped, strongly scented blossoms that have a multitude of uses as well as symbolic significance. The meaning of an orange blossom flower has been established for centuries.

Definition of an Orange Blossom Flower

An orange blossom flower, sometimes referred to as an orange blossom or orange flower, is a small, white, fragrant bloom with five petals produced by an orange tree. Orange blossom flowers tend to grow in clusters. Orange blossoms are notable in that they often appear on orange trees at the same time as the fruit, rather than always before the fruit, as is the case with most other flowering fruit trees.

Meaning of an Orange Blossom Flower

Throughout history and across cultures, orange blossom flowers have symbolized purity, innocence, chastity and fertility. In ancient China, India and Persia, orange blossom flowers were equated with purity, innocence and chastity, and were consequently associated with brides. Subsequently, this understanding of the meaning of orange blossom flowers and connection of them to brides spread throughout Europe. During the Victorian era, orange blossom flowers also came to symbolize fertility; this is because they are abundant on trees at the same time as the orange fruits.

Fragrance of Orange Blossom Flowers

Orange blossom flowers have a distinctive floral fragrance that is both heady and refreshing. It may be described as creamy, sweet and rich, with a hint of a tart, citrus-like essence. Most people find the scent of orange blossom flowers wafting from an orange tree or grove to be a very pleasing one. In aromatherapy, the essential oil of orange blossom flowers, known as neroli, is thought to promote feelings of relaxation and to alleviate stress and depression.

Traditional Use of Orange Blossom Flowers

Traditionally, orange blossom flowers have been used as adornments for brides during wedding ceremonies. This practice grew increasingly common during the Victorian era after Queen Victoria wore orange blossom flowers at her own wedding. Brides often covered their heads with elaborate crowns, circlets or coronets comprised of fragrant orange flowers. Because they partly symbolize fertility, orange blossom flowers have been regarded as ideal adornments for brides. They are believed to ensure that a marriage will produce many children.

Products Made with Orange Blossom Flowers

In addition to serving as fragrant adornments for brides, orange blossom flowers are processed and used to make a variety of products. The orange blossom flowers from the bitter orange tree are used to make an essential oil known as neroli. Neroli essential oil is used in aromatherapy, as an ingredient of many perfumes, and also as an ingredient of many skin and hair care products. It has a floral fragrance very close to that of fresh orange blossom flowers and is beneficial to dry and sensitive skin when applied topically. Orange blossom flowers are also used to make orange flower water, which is different from neroli essential oil. It is used to lend flavor and fragrance to foods and drinks, and is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine.

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