Category: Fruit & Nut Trees
The orange blossom is the flower of the Citrus sinensis tree, the scientific name of the orange tree. It is often called the sweet orange or navel orange.
About the Species
Citrus sinensis only grows in the United States with any frequency in Florida, and to a lesser extent, Louisiana. The orange tree is a dicot. It is a perennial shrub tree. It is a member of the Rutacae family.
The orange blossom has five white flowers around 20 bright yellow stamens, with narrow wings around the leaf stems. The white flowers may be singletons or form in groups of up to six. Each flower is around two and a half inches across.
The tree itself grows around 25 feet tall. It has a compact crown. The leaves are elliptical, around ten inches long and two to five inches wide. The leaves are deep green and leathery.
Orange blossoms appear in the spring and turn into fruit by the autumn.
The sour orange has the species name Citrus aurantium. The orange blossom tree is also a separate species from the mandarin orange, citrus reticulate. The Clementine is citrus nobilis; this species also includes the tangerine. The tangelo is a cross between Citrus reticulata and Citrus sinensis. The Ugli fruit is a cross between the C. reticulata and C. paradisi, while the paradis line is itself a cross of the C sinesis and C. maxima. Needless to say, there are a lot of citrus hybrids.
Mandarin oranges are more popular as citrus fruit, but Citrus sinensis does produce yellow to red citrus fruit from three to five inches across.
Citrus sinensis is primarily raised for fruit, though dwarf varieties are raised for their fragrant blossoms. There are several breeds of orange blossom trees, such Mediterranean oranges and Spanish oranges, typically named for their geographic area. There are seedless as well as conventional seeded varieties. The fruit are regularly eaten raw or turned into juice.
The orange flower blossoms are used to make a variety of perfumes, similar to rose water. It is sometimes steeped in water to create deserts and baked goods. The Spanish use orange blossoms to make tea.
Orange blossom honey is created when bee hives are deliberately moved into citrus groves and the honey harvested, which tastes like orange-laced honey. Orange blossoms create more nectar per plant than any other source in the United States, making orange groves a critical resource in honey production.
Orange peel oil is used in many perfumes. Orange seed oil is used in some plastics.
The wood has a density of 0.78 grams per cubic centimeter, so it isn’t regularly used to make products.
Orange trees grow well upland in river biomes. This is why they thrive in the drainage areas around the Everglades in Florida and Mississippi delta.
Citrus sinensis suffers from the Mediterranean fruit fly, ceratitis capitata. It suffers from several different root rots. The species regularly suffers from blights, fungus and other pathogens.
The orange blossom is the state flower of Florida. It received this designation in 1909.