Orange blossoms are the flowers of the orange tree, also known as Citrus sinensis. These incredibly aromatic flowers have had an important cultural significance in many communities around the world for centuries, and they are also used in the preparation of some foods. Many florists sell these blossoms when they are in season, and various food products like orange blossom honey can often be purchased in various markets and specialty stores.
The flowers of the orange tree are pure white, with five slightly fleshy petals and an intoxicating smell. They grow in clusters which stand out starkly against the lush greenery of the orange tree, and when left on the tree, they will develop into oranges, popular food fruits which are consumed around the world.
In many cultures, orange blossoms symbolize good fortune, and they are often used in ceremonies like weddings. Brides around the world have historically worn orange blossom wreaths or carried these blossoms in their bouquets, and in the Victorian era, brides also used fake ones in their weddings, sometimes passing on their artificial bouquets and wreaths to their children. These flowers have also traditionally been used in the coffins of young women and girls in some regions of the world, symbolizing purity.
These aromatic flowers are also used to create perfumes and incense, and in the Middle East they are distilled to make orange water, a popular fragrant water which is used in the preparation of food. Orange water is often used in the preparation of baklava, for example, lending a rich orangey scent and flavor to the food. In regions where oranges grow, some beekeepers take advantage of rich orange blossom nectar by parking their beehives in orange groves. The blooms may also be candied for use in sweets, or dried and used in tea blends and herbal tisanes.
If you have ever been around oranges in bloom, you are probably already familiar with the heady scent of orange blossoms. This scent is so distinctive that orange blossoms were named the state flower of Florida in 1909, commemorating the “land of flowers” with a flower everyone would know and have positive associations with.