The orange tree, Citrus aurantium, is the only plant that yields 3 essential oil and 1 absolute. I will discuss each in detail. First, let’s investigate the history of this unusual tree, Seville orange, or bitter orange.
Bitter orange trees were introduced to the Mediterranean in the tenth and eleventh century after Arab conquests. Europeans enjoyed the oranges for 500 years before other varieties of oranges were introduced.
By the 17th century, the Princess of Nerole, introduced the essential oil of orange blossoms to Italian society. It soon became fashionable to wear, bathe and fragrance gloves, clothes and stationary with the scent of orange blossom. The princess Anna Maria De La Tremoille was a member of the powerful Italian Orsini family who introduced the fragrance to the courts of Europe. The essential oil, Neroli, was named in her honor.
Neroli is the product of the steam distillation of the delicate orange blossoms of the Citrus aurantium tree. The blossoms are picked on a warm, sunny day as they begin to open. Steam distillation takes place immediately on the site before the fresh scent fades from the flower. One thousand pounds of blossoms will yield only 4 cups of essential oil at a very expensive price. The scent is light and fragrant with a hint of orange and a sweet, lasting undertone. It blends with most essential oils, except the heavier scents, such as vanilla. The best blends for Neroli are other citrus oils and floral scents. Neroli aroma is so delicate; it can easily be overwhelmed by a predominant scent, such as ginger and other spices or base oils.