The orange blossom flower sprouts from the flowering orange tree in the citrus genus. Although these plants – which belong to the rutaceae family – are best known for their luscious fruits, they are also well loved for their variety of uses and pretty, elegant appearance. These blooms, which are native to subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, have five waxy petals and sepals that are perfectly arranged, and surround 20 to 25 tightly packed stamens that form a whorl at the sepal base. The actual trees that sprout these flowers are evergreen and contain an alternate arrangement of ovate-shaped, crenulated leaves.
The orange blossom flower is replete with uses – from culinary applications and cosmetic uses, all the way to cultural customs. One such example is of its use in perfume. Orange blossom flower extracts have become something of a sweet, citrusy staple in many of the better known perfumes; however, some people prefer to create their own scents using this flower. A quick search will yield many results detailing the collection and preparation of blooms, and the extraction of scent – which many people have found to be very easy and rewarding. Another search for orange blossom recipes will likely yield results for a unique, orange-scented floral water, which is commonly used as an alternative to the heavier smell and flavor of rosewater. Orange flower water is frequently used to sweeten pastries and desserts in both France and the Middle East – while in the United States, this concoction is predominantly used to flavor scones and light confections. As for its use in traditions, these blossoms have long been a part of wedding ceremonies. This tradition began some time in the Victorian era and they were frequently braided into wreath-like headpieces that were attached to veils, or woven directly into the hair. This is still true today; however, they are more likely to appear in bouquets, decorations and centerpieces then they were in earlier times.
Given that the orange blossom flower is predominantly a symbol of purity – as well as the contrasting emblems of fertility and chastity – it is not surprising to find that they are still commonly given as gifts to new brides. Some also feel that these blossoms represent faithfulness and eternal love, and thus, are sometimes given to both new and old loves alike – sometimes for special occasions such as anniversaries and Valentine’s Day, at other times, just to remind the recipient of the giver’s unwavering devotion.