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Orange Blossom

Orange Blossom


A house, where all was hush'd in calm repose;
For 'twas a summer morning, bright and fair,
And none of human kind were near me there:
Before the house there were some lofty trees,
Whose topmost branches felt the morning breeze,
And glisten'd in the sunbeams; these among
Were numerous rooks, attending on their young,
Whose clamorous cawings, as they hover'd round,
Seem'd to my ear like Music's sweetest sound.
Below, before the house, there was a space,
Where in two rows were set, with bloomy grace,
Orange and lemon trees; which to the sun
Open'd their fragrant blossoms every one;
And round them bees all busily were humming,
Cheerily to their morning labours coming:---
And in the centre of each space beside,
An aloe spread its prickly leaves with pride.
Barton, Bernard, 1784-1849: HAUNTS OF CHILDHOOD. [from Poems (1818)]
Citrtus auratium var. amara

Physical Characteristics
An evergreen tree growing to 9m by 6m . It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to June. The scented flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Apomictic (reproduce by seeds formed without sexual fusion) and insects. The plant is self-fertile. We rate it 2 out of 5 for usefulness.

The tree ranges in height from less than 10 ft (3 m) to 30 ft (9 m), is more erect and has a more compact crown than the sweet orange; has smooth, brown bark, green twigs, angular when young, and flexible, not very
sharp, thorns from 1 in to 3 1/8 in (2.5-8 cm) long. The evergreen leaves (technically single leaflets of compound leaves), are aromatic, alternate, on broad-winged petioles much longer than those of the sweet orange; usually
ovate with a short point at the apex; 2 1/2 to 5 1/2 in (6.5-13.75 cm) long, 1 1/2 to 4 in (3.75-10 cm) wide; minutely toothed; dark-green above, pale beneath, and dotted with tiny oil glands. The highly fragrant flowers, borne
singly or in small clusters in the leaf axils, are about 1 1/2 in (3.75 cm) wide, with 5 white, slender, straplike, recurved, widely-separated petals surrounding a tuft of up to 24 yellow stamens. From 5 to 12% of the flowers are male.
The fruit is round, oblate or oblong-oval, 2 3/4 to 3 1/8 in (7-8 cm) wide, rough-surfaced, with a fairly thick, aromatic, bitter peel becoming bright reddish-orange on maturity and having minute, sunken oil glands. There are
10 to 12 segments with bitter walls containing strongly acid pulp and from a few to numerous seeds. The center becomes hollow when the fruit is full-grown.

Edible Uses
Condiment; Fruit; Oil.
Fruit - raw or cooked[1, 3]. Very bitter[46]. It is used in making marmalade and other preserves[3, 46, 61, 183]. The fruit is about 5 - 7cm in diameter[200].
The rind of the fruit is often used as a flavouring in cakes etc[1, 4]. Used in 'bouquet garni'[183]. An oil obtained from the seeds contains linolenic acid. The flowers are used for scenting tea[183]. An essential oil from the dried peel of immature fruits is used as a food flavouring[183].

Other Uses
Essential; Hedge; Oil; Rootstock.
This species is much used as a rootstock for the sweet orange, C. sinensis, because of its disease resistance and greater hardyness[3, 46, 61]. Grown as a hedging plant in N. America[260].
A semi-drying oil obtained from the seed is used in soap making[46, 61]. Essential oils obtained from the peel, petals and leaves are used as a food flavouring and also in perfumery.[1, 4, 46, 61, 171]. The oil from the flowers is called 'Neroli oil' - yields are very low from this species and so it is often adulterated with inferior oils[7]. The oil from the leaves and young shoots is called 'petit-grain' - 400 kilos of plant material yield about 1 kilo of oil[7]. This is also often adulterated
with inferior products[7].

Food Uses

The normal types of sour orange are usually too sour to be enjoyed out-of-hand. In Mexico, however, sour oranges are cut in half, salted, coated with a paste of hot chili peppers, and eaten.

The greatest use of sour oranges as food is in the form of marmalade and for this purpose they have no equal. The fruits are largely exported to England and Scotland for making marmalade. Sour oranges are used
primarily for marmalade in South Africa.

The juice is valued for ade and as a flavoring on fish and, in Spain, on meat during cooking. In Yucatan, it is employed like vinegar. In Egypt and elsewhere, it has been fermented to make wine.

"Bitter orange oil", expressed from the peel, is in demand for flavoring candy, ice cream, baked goods, gelatins and puddings, chewing gum, soft drinks, liqueurs and pharmaceutical products, especially if the water-or
alcohol-insoluble terpenes and sesquiterpenes are removed. The oil is produced in Sicily, Spain, West Africa, the West Indies, Brazil, Mexico and Taiwan.

The essential oil derived from the dried peel of immature fruit, particularly from the selected types -'Jacmel' in Jamaica and the much more aromatic 'Curacao orange' (var. curassaviensis)-gives a distinctive flavor to certain liqueurs.

"Neroli oil", or "Neroli Bigarade Oil", distilled from the flowers of the sour orange, has limited use in flavoring candy, soft-drinks and liqueurs, ice cream, baked goods and chewing gum.
'Petitgrain oil', without terpenes, is used to enhance the fruit flavors (peach, apricot, gooseberry, black currant, etc.) in food products, candy, ginger ale, and various condiments.
'Orange leaf absolute' enters into soft-drinks, ice cream, baked goods and candy.
The ripe peel of the sour orange contains 2.4 to 2.8%, and the green peel up to 14%, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone which is 20 times sweeter than saccharin and 200 times sweeter than cyclamate. Potential use as a sweetener may be hampered by the limited supply of peel.

Soap substitute: Throughout the Pacific Island, the crushed fruit and the macerated leaves, both of which make lather in water, are used as soap for washing clothes and shampooing the hair. Safford described the common scene in Guam of women standing in a river with wooden trays on which they rub clothing with sour orange pulp, then scrub it with a corncob. He wrote: "Often the entire surface of the river where the current is sluggish is covered with decaying oranges." On the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, the fruits are used for scouring floors and

Perfumery: All parts of the sour orange are more aromatic than those of the sweet orange. The flowers are indispensable to the perfume industry and are famous not only for the distilled Neroli oil but also for "orange flower absolute" obtained by fat or solvent extraction. During favorable weather in southern France, 2,200 lbs (1,000 kg) of flowers will yield 36 to 53 oz (1,000-1,500 g) of oil.

Neroli oil consists of 35% terpenes (mainly dipentene, pinene and camphene), 30% 1-linalool, and 4% geraniol and nerol, 2% d-terpineol, 6% d-nerolidol, traces of decyclic aldehyde, 7% 1-linalyl acetate, 4% neryl and geranyl acetates, traces of esters of phenylacetic acid and benzoic acid, as much as 0.1% methyl anthranilate, and traces of jasmone, farnesol, and palmitic acid. Orange flower water is usually a by-product of oil production.
Petitgrain oil is distilled from the leaves, twigs and immature fruits, especially from the Bergamot orange. Both Petitgrain and the oil of the ripe peel are of great importance in formulating scents for perfumes and cosmetics. Petitgrain oil is indispensable in fancy eau-de-cologne. The seed oil is employed in soaps.
Honey: The flowers yield nectar for honeybees.
Wood: The wood is handsome, whitish to pale-yellow, very hard, fine-grained, much like boxwood. It is valued for cabinetwork and turnery. In Cuba it is fashioned into baseball bats.

Phytochemicals found in the entire plant of Citrus aurantium variety amara
Phytochemicals Include: (+)-auraptenal,4-terpineol,5-hydroxyauranetin, acetaldehyde, acetic-acid,
alpha-humulene, alpha-ionone, Alpha-phellandrene, Alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol,
Alpha-terpinyl-acetate,alpha-ylangene,ascorbic-acid, Aurantiamene, aurapten, Benzoic -Acid, Beta-copaene,
Beta-elemene, Beta-ocimene, Beta-pinene, Butanol, Cadinene, Camphene, Caprinaldehyde, Carvone,
Caryophyllene, Cinnamic-acid, Cis-ocimene, Citral, Citronellal, Citronellic-acid ,Citronellol,
Cryptoxanthin,d-citronellic-acid, D-limonene, D-linalool,d-nerolidol, Decanal, Decylaldehyde, Decylpelargonate,
delta-3-carene, Delta-cadinene, Dipentene, Dl-linalool, Dl-terpineol, Dodecanal, dodecen-2-al-(1),
Duodeclyaldehyde, EO, Ethanol, Farnesol ,formic-acid, Furfurol, Gamma-elemene, Gamma-terpinene,
Geranic-acid,geraniol, Geranyl-acetate, geranyl-oxide, Hesperidin, hexanol, Indole, Isolimonic-acid,
Isoscutellarein, Isosinensetin, Isotetramethylether, L-linalool, L-linalylacetate, L-stachydrine,lauric-aldehyde,
Limonene, Limonin, Linalool,linalyl-acetate, Malic-acid, Mannose, Methanol, Myrcene, Naringenin, Naringin,
neral, nerol , Nerolidol, neryl-acetate ,Nobiletin, Nomilin, Nonanol, Nonylaldehyde, Nootkatone,octanol, Octyl-acetate, p-cymene, p-cymol, Palmitic- Acid,
Pectin, Pelargonic-acid, Pentanol, Phellandrene, Phenol, Phenylacetic- Acid ,Pyrrol ,Pyrrole,rhoifolin, Sabinene, Sinensetin, Stachydrine, Tangeretin,
Tannic-acid, Terpenyl-acetate, Terpinen-4-ol ,Terpinolene, Tetra-o-methyl- Scutellarein, Thymol,trans-hexen-2-al-1,trans-ocimene, Umbelliferone, Undecanal,
Valencene, Violaxanthin
(this site also has some valuable referenced materials on therapeutic uses of the plant)

Orange Blossom/Flower Absolute-Egypt

(Bitter Orange or Citrus aurantium var. amara produces different oils which are appreciated by fragrance ethusiasts. Petitgrain Bigarade- obtained from distillation of leaves, Bitter Orange Peel- expressed or distilled from the peels of the fruits, Neroli-distilled from the freshly harvested flowers, Orange Blossom Absolute-extracted from the freshly harvested flowers using a solvent such as hexane to produce the concrete and alcohol washing, chilling, filtering, etc to produce the absolute, Petitgrain Sur Fleur d'Orangers which is a codistillation of the flowers and leaves, Orange flower hydrosol-either a primary or secondary distillate of the flowers, Eau de Brouts Absolute-an absolute prepared by extracting a mixture of petitgrain and neroli waters, Orange Flower Water Absolute-extraction of the water remaining after the distillation of the flowers)
Physical characteristics of the Orange Flower Absolute-dark orange or dark brown viscous but easily pourable liquid
Olfactory charateristics-Mama mia!!! What an odor-Intensely sweet rich floral bouquet. Very heady and intoxicating aroma radiates from the heart of this delectable absolute.
Wonderful delicate tea like nuances reveal themselves within the sweet floral top and heartnotes. It has a soft freshness evoking the feeling of wonder and delight one experiences at the beginning of a perfect spring day as the sun rises over a scene of pristine beauty.
Has good strength and tenacity-
Perfume Uses(from Stephen Aractander)
Orange Flower Absolute is used in coutnless types of perfume, heavy Oriental as well a light citrus colognes, chypres and ambres as well as floral bouquets....The absolute forms excellent combinations with all citrus oils, petitgrain oils...It naturally forms a fixative base in high-class citrus colognes and perfumes of similar type
Neroli will form a beautiful "pair" with Orange Flower Absolute.

A stranger newly transported from the snows of the north, and placed in a piazza not far from the shores of Cuba, becomes, if he has the least sensibility, inebriate with warmth and fragrance. Inhaling the perfume of orange
trees, and surrounded with fields of coffee (with its glossy green leaves growing in wreathes with crimson berries, or white blossoms,) he moves, looks, and speaks as if under the influence of enchantment. Let him who sighs
for death, come hither; a light veil will soon be spread over all the scenes of memory, and the climate, if it does not destroy, may, at least, shorten his material term.
Idomen; or, the Vale of Yumuri. By Maria del Occidente

"In a glimmer of gems and a sheen of white,
With the orange wreath on her snowy brow."
The Bride Flown (19th century)

Through the centuries, brides have always worn some form of headdress. Of all bridal customs and traditions, wearing a circlet, wreath or coronet of flowers or greenery on the head is the one that seems to best represent the bridal legend, and be the most consistent.
In early times, flowers and herbs were chosen to wear for sensible and sentimental reasons. Rosemary and myrtle were highly prized for their fragrance as well as for being evergreens. Roses were selected not only for their beauty, but they were then thought to be the flower of Venus, goddess of love. For their bridal headdress, country maids wound wildflowers into a wreath or, depending on the season, would gild small branches of leaves and wheat, then shape them into a golden coronet. Of course, royal brides were an exception to the botanical wreath rule, wearing crown jewels rather than some simple flowery, pastoral crown!

Orange Flowers in Wedding Traditions


Now where do orange blossoms come into the picture? Incorporating orange blossoms into the bride's costume originated in ancient China where they were emblems of purity, chastity and innocence. There are few trees so prolific as the orange; it is one of the rare plants that blooms and bears fruit at the same time, thus becoming symbolic of fruitfulness. During the time of the Crusades, the custom was brought from the East first to Spain, then to France, then to England in the early 1800's. By then, many enchanting legends had spread throughout the continent of maidens entwining fresh orange blossoms into a bridal wreath for their hair. The influence became so indoctrinated into the culture that the phrase "to gather orange blossoms" took the meaning " to seek a wife".

Even America became enthralled with the bridal orange blossoms. Ann Monsarrat in her book, And The Bride Wore, reports, "Miss Mary Hellen, a badly-behaved young lady who trifled with the affections of all three sons of President John Quincy Adams before settling for the middle one, wore orange blossoms for her White House wedding in Washington in the winter of 1828, when, according to her cousin and bridesmaid, Abigail Adams, she ' looked very handsome in white satin, orange blossoms and pearls' ".

The 19th century bride even decorated her gown with this symbol of fertility. But it was Queen Victoria who created the vogue for the sweet smelling blossoms when she wore them in a grand wreath for her 1840 wedding, and the classic floral theme for the Victorian bride was set.

The very influential etiquette journals of the 19th century dictated that every bride include the blossoms in her wedding. This was so opulently obeyed, that by the 1870s, one of the powerful arbiters of good taste in England, John Cordy Jeaffreson, was begging for a change from the all-white headdresses, stating " 'not one lovely girl in a thousand could wear without disadvantage the solely yellow-white orange-flowers' ", according to Ann Monsarrat. And it seems that "he also found the connection between orange blossoms and fertility extremely distasteful". Those Victorians!

When real orange blossoms were in short supply or in northern climates where citrus fruits did not flourish, wax replicas were used instead. However, reports in society newspapers of some extravagant Victorian weddings would specify "real orange blossoms" were used and the effusive accounts of the nuptials told of lush scents wafting through the air! These exquisite folkloric flowers, either genuine fresh blossoms or wax replicas, continued to be used to "fulfill the demands of tradition" well into the 1950s.

The wax reproductions so prized during the Victorian era have become extremely precious today. Whether it is an entire vintage wax flower wreath that has been restored to wear again or some individual flowers saved to nestle into a newly made headpiece, these charming wax replica orange blossoms are being treasured again, and being used for their uniqueness, beauty and sentiment.
He lighted two perfectly fresh wax candles which figured on the chimney-piece. A very good fire was flickering on the hearth. On the chimney-piece, under a glass globe, stood a woman's head-dress in silver wire and orange flowers.
"And what is this?" resumed the stranger.
"That, sir," said Thenardier, "is my wife's wedding bonnet."
The traveller surveyed the object with a glance which seemed to say, "There really was a time, then, when that monster was a maiden?"
Thenardier lied, however. When he had leased this paltry building for the purpose of converting it into a tavern, he had found this chamber decorated in just this manner, and had purchased the furniture and obtained the orange flowers at second hand, with the idea that this would cast a graceful shadow on "his spouse," and would result in what the English call respectability for his house.
Victor Hugo-Les Miserables

Orange blossom water - the hydrolate has been used by pastry chefs in southern and central Europe for hundreds of years and in the 1920s in particular manufacturers added it to biscuits(cookies) to enhance their crispness. It has the same uplifting and calming actions found in the essential oil of neroli but as it is a hydrolate and much less concentrated its action is far gentler.

Ma'ame Pélagie had been sitting beside the bed in her peignoir and slippers. She held the hand of her sister who lay there, and smoothed down the woman's soft brown hair. She said not a word, and the silence was broken only by Mam'selle Pauline's continued sobs. Once Ma'ame Pélagie arose to mix a drink of orange-flower water, which she gave to her sister, as she would have offered it to a nervous, fretful child. Almost an hour passed before Ma'ame Pélagie spoke again. Then she said: -- "Pauline, you must cease that sobbing, now, and sleep. You will make yourself ill. La Petite will not go away. Do you hear me? Do you understand? She will
stay, I promise you."
Mam'selle Pauline could not clearly comprehend, but she had great faith in the word of her sister, and soothed by the promise and the touch of Ma'ame Pélagie's strong, gentle hand, she fell asleep.
Kate Chopin : Ma`ame Pelagie