The Florida State Flower, the orange blossom, was designated the Florida State Flower by Concurrent Resolution Nov. 15, 1909 Legislature. It is one of the most fragrant flowers in Florida. Millions of these white flowers perfume the atmosphere throughout central and south Florida during orange blossom time. La Florida, Spanish for flowery, covered with flowers, or abounding in flowers, was named by Ponce de Leon in 1512. When it came to declaring an official state flower, the Land of Flowers had many, many choices. There was much support for the camellia and much support for the gardenia, but the native orange blossom's fragrance and widespread appeal won the honor. Today, it seems like this choice was simply meant to be.
The orange blossom (Citrus sinensis) was adopted by a Concurrent Resolution of the Florida state legislature on May 5, 1909. The resolution said, in part: "Whereas, the State of Florida is universally known as the 'Land of Flowers'; therefore, "Be it Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate Concurring: "That the Orange Blossom be, and the same is hereby chosen and designated as the State Flower in and for the State of Florida." The orange tree is an evergreen that reaches heights of 20-30 feet and grows in full sun and in sandy soil. It thrives in Florida, thanks to its climate and typically abundant rainfall. The tree flowers in spring, producing white orange blossoms that are made up of five waxy petals and give off a sweet, fragrant scent. Months after the arrival of its blossoms, the orange tree bears its fruit, which is commonly called the sweet or navel orange.
Interestingly, the Florida State Flower has long been associated with good fortune. Bouquets and tiaras made with fragrant orange blossom flowers were a popular favorite of brides in the Victorian era. The blossoms’ ability to both bear flowers and produce fruit is said to represent fertility. The arrival of orange blossoms continues to be a cause for celebration for some Floridians. In Davie, a small town north of Miami, flower lovers celebrate the arrival of the Florida state flower with the Orange Blossom Festival. The three-day rodeo and music event celebrates Florida’s agricultural history.
Beyond its attractiveness and romantic image, the Florida State flower is also commercially valuable. Products made from the flowers include an essential oil that is sometimes used in natural skin care products and in aromatherapy. Honeybees make a favorite product from the flower: orange blossom honey. Its orange flavor and mild taste make it a popular treat. Local businesses such as spa’s, restaurants and retail stores utilize this flower to further their trade. The Florida State Flower has become an attractive commodity to the state and continues to lure tourists with its sweet-filled scent and delicious taste. Next time you visit Florida, stop for just a moment to smell the incredible aroma of the Florida State Flower, the Orange Blossom which fills the night air. You might not want to leave the state unless you can bring it home with you in a jar.