Florida’s state flower is the orange blossom, or Citrus sinensis. The orange blossom is remarkably fragrant, and the small white flowers imbue a characteristic sweet scent to Florida’s spring landscape. Although the orange tree is not native to Florida, orange trees have been synonymous with Florida since before statehood was granted in 1845. The Florida state legislature declared the orange blossom the state flower on 15 November 1909, and it remains a beloved symbol of the state.
The orange blossom that is Florida’s state flower is the blossom of the sweet orange tree. Usually blooming from February to April, the small flowers powerfully scent Florida’s spring air. The blossoms are white, slightly waxy, and have five petals. Blooming either alone, or in groups of up to six, a single orange tree can be covered in hundreds of blossoms in the spring.
Orange blossoms are a particularly apt state symbol of Florida because of the extensive history of orange tree growth and production within the state. Spanish explorers first introduced orange trees to Florida in the 1500s. Although oranges are probably native to Southeast Asia, by the time the orange blossom was declared Florida’s state flower in 1909 there were more orange trees growing in the United States than in any other country in the world.
Florida continues to be known for orange juice production. Brazil actually produces many more oranges per year, but Florida produces a particularly high quality orange juice. The sandy soil and warm, humid subtropical climate continue to make citrus one of Florida’s leading industries.
Enjoyment of Florida’s state flower need not be restricted to the spring months. The orange blossom is commonly made into perfumes, and the scent is enjoyed by people all over the world throughout the year. Florida’s state flower is also well known in the form of orange blossom honey. Orange blossom honey is made within bee hives in orange groves. Not only do the bees help to pollinate the citrus crop, but the orange blossom honey is enjoyed for its unique orange flavor.
In addition to perfume and honey, Florida’s orange blossoms are also made into orange blossom candies and orange blossom water. The blossoms can be dried and made into orange blossom tea. Orange blossoms are also traditionally associated with luck and good fortune, and have a long history of being included in weddings.