When we think about oranges, we usually think about their refreshing citrus taste, juice, and vitamin C. However, we rarely think about the fact that they come from trees that produce lovely flowers with an equally appealing scent and a rich symbolic history. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Orange blossom meaning, plus learn about their history and origins, uses and benefits, and cultural significance around the world today.
- Orange Blossom Meaning – The Essentials
- About Orange Blossom
- Uses and Benefits of Orange Blossom Flowers
- The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Orange Blossom
- Purity, Beauty, and an Aromatic Experience
- Orange Blossom FAQs
Orange Blossom Meaning – The Essentials
Orange blossoms symbolize innocence, chastity, purity, good luck, and fertility. Long used as an adornment for brides during wedding ceremonies and celebrations, orange blossoms have also come to symbolize eternal love.
About Orange Blossom
Citrus sinensis, commonly called sweet orange, is a species of citrus tree in the Citrus genus of the Rutaceae plant family.
Sweet orange gets its scientific or botanical name from a combination of Greek and Latin origins.
The word citrus comes from the Greek word citron which refers to cedar trees. It’s thought to have been assigned to citrus trees due to their green foliage’s similar scent. The word sinensus comes from the Latin for China or Chinese and refers to the orange tree’s origins.
The common word that refers to the fruit and type of tree, “orange” comes from the Persian word for the fruit, narang.
Citrus sinensis is an evergreen tree with deep-green, ovate leaves and can grow between 20 and 30 feet tall.
Along with their popular fruit, sweet oranges, Citrus sinensis produces clusters of flowers called orange blossoms. The flowers are white, star-shaped, and strongly fragrant with citrus notes, of course, and sweet, baby-soft, soapy undertones.
Where Do Orange Trees Grow Natively?
All trees of the Citrus genus, including Citrus sinensis, are believed to have originated in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Melanesia, and Australia.
They have been cultivated since ancient times and have spread to Polynesia and Micronesia between 3,000 and 1,500 BCE during the Austronesian expansion.
Oranges likely made their way to Europe after spreading from their native habitat to India and the eastern coast of Africa. From there, they eventually spread throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean around 1,200 BCE via the Incense Trade Route.
Eventually, orange trees made their way to Europe, likely aided by the spread of Islam, and were commonly grown in more western tropical and subtropical regions by the 15th century CE.
Popular Types of Orange Trees
There are two basic types of orange trees the sweet orange group (Citrus sinensis) and the bitter orange group (Citrus aurantium). Growers have used both varieties of these trees to create countless types of orange trees and orange fruits of different sizes, colors, and flavor profiles.
Some of the most popular include:
- Valencia Oranges
- Washington Navel Oranges
- Hamlin Oranges
- Moro Blood Oranges
- Honeybell Oranges
When Are Orange Trees in Season and Flowering?
Unlike other fruit trees, orange trees produce their flowers simultaneously as they produce their fruit.
They are traditionally in season and blossoming during the winter months. However, modern agricultural techniques have produced orange trees that can be in season during almost any season.
Now, early groups are in season from October to January. Mid-season groups are ready for harvest from December to February. Late-season orange trees produce flowers and fruit from March to June.
Uses and Benefits of Orange Blossom Flowers
Orange blossom oils and essences are popular ingredients in the manufacturing of perfumes, colognes, and other fragrances.
Orange blossom essential oil is a common ingredient in skincare products. The oil is thought to help improve the appearance of one’s skin tone by evening imperfections in one’s complexion.
It’s also commonly used as a skin cleanser and shampoo ingredient to help control the production of natural oils.
While the fruit of the orange tree gets most of the attention in the kitchen, orange blossoms also have their place. Their essence is used to make orange water which is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern pastries and drinks.
In Spain, orange blossom is commonly used to brew tea.
Additionally, beehives are placed in orange groves when the trees are blossoming to create orange blossom honey. This honey has a uniquely sharp taste of citrus mixed with the sweetness of honey.
The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Orange Blossom
Orange blossoms symbolize innocence, purity, virtue, good luck, and fertility. Long used as an adornment for brides during wedding ceremonies and celebrations, orange blossoms have also come to symbolize eternal love.
Orange Blossoms in Ancient Cultures
The symbolic meaning of orange blossoms has been the same for millennia. Since these blossoms unusually appear on orange trees simultaneously as the actual fruit, they are associated with fertility.
As a result, orange blossoms were traditionally used for adorning brides on their wedding days in the places where orange trees first grew: in ancient China, India, and Persia. In these places, orange blossoms came to symbolize the purity, innocence, and virtue of brides on their wedding days. In addition, orange blossom was offered as a symbol of good luck and well-wishes for a fruitful, fertile union.
The Symbolic Meaning of White Orange Blossom Flowers
Unlike the vibrant fruits they accompany, orange blossoms don’t bloom in the color orange; they only blossom in snowy white.
In addition to orange blossoms having a long history of symbolizing purity, white-colored flowers in general traditionally also symbolize purity and innocence. This lends the orange blossom an even heavier weight when it comes to its symbolic meaning.
Orange Blossoms in the Victorian Era
During the Victorian Era, floriography, or the language of flowers was a popular and commonly used form of communication. Each flower was ascribed a different meaning and could be given to a person, alone or in a bouquet, to convey a message.
In the Victorian language of flowers, orange blossoms retained their ancient symbolic meaning, representing fertility and purity, in addition to taking on the meaning of eternal love.
At this time, Queen Victoria wore a crown of orange blossoms on her wedding day to Prince Albert in 1840, creating a craze throughout Britain. Soon after, brides in the west began adorning themselves, their bouquets, and their decorations with orange blossoms. These were natural ones if they could afford it and wax ones if they couldn’t – for their wedding days.
Purity, Beauty, and an Aromatic Experience
Whether you’re arranging a bouquet for your home or choosing flowers for your upcoming wedding day, orange blossoms will make the perfect addition. Their rich symbolic history and lovely fragrance can help you celebrate your big day or simply add a bit of sweetness to your everyday life.
Orange Blossom FAQs
What do orange blossoms symbolize?
Orange blossoms symbolize purity, innocence, chastity, fertility, and eternal love.
Do orange blossom flowers come back every year?
Orange trees bloom every year.
What does orange blossom smell like?
Orange blossom has a distinctly citrus-like scent with sweet, soapy undertones.
What are orange blossom flowers used for?
Orange blossoms are used for making perfumes, tea, orange water, and orange blossom honey. They’re also commonly included in bridal bouquets.
What pollinators do orange blossom flowers attract?
Honeybees primarily pollinate orange blossoms.
Are orange blossom flowers poisonous to humans and animals?
Orange blossoms are toxic to pets and non-toxic to people.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.