neroli

The bitter orange or Seville orange is a small tree or shrub with glossy green leaves. It bears white blossoms in spring, each with five fleshy petals. Clustered in the axils of the leaves, the blooms contain small glands of highly fragrant essences. The orange blossoms open in spring between March and April, depending on the region and year. At daybreak, once the dew has formed, the buds are carefully hand-picked or gathered on a sheet spread at the base of the tree.

 

This year, as a result of the unusually warm Tunisian & Moroccan spring and heavy autumn rainfall, flowering of the bitter orange tree was plentiful. The waxy flowers formed a thick white carpet beneath the trees. In Tunisian for exemple, the harvest surpassed all estimates, reaching 850 tons, compared with 750 tons in 2012. The factories were thereby able to produce 700 kg of essential oil with optimum yield. The bitter orange trees still covered with flowers will soon bear fruit.

Aromatic raw material

Neroli is truly a form of liquid gold for perfumers and is produced in two, 100% pure and natural raw materials: essential oil, obtained through steam distillation of freshly gathered flowers, and floral water, which is the water used in the distillation process. A symbol of purity and innocence, neroli exudes a delightful, floral, powdery scent, a universal success for any composition. Its essential oil is familiar to us from the very first notes, with the characteristic fragrance of orange blossoms, recalling childhood and the sweet treats baked by our grandmothers. From a warm, soothing bed, neroli gently rocks the senses with its pleasantly honeyed aromas, sweet and delectable, reminiscent of gingerbread. Through this deep and comforting sleep, neroli essential oil gradually awakens to become a true revelation. Borne by a feeling of renaissance, the lemony-green and subtly spicy notes offer freshness and lightness. At once a source of gentleness and vitality, neroli embodies an unforgettable legend from the Garden of the Hesperides.

Origin

Native to Southeast Asia, bitter orange grows around the Mediterranean basin. Though not especially fussy about soil quality, it does prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soils, but will tolerate chalky soil and excess water.

Neroli essential oil and floral water are derived from Citrus aurantium var. amara, meaning “bitter golden lemon.” The French word for the plant, bigarade, comes from the Provençal bigarrado (sour orange and cherry variety) and bigarra, which evolved to bigarreau or bigaroon (the cherry variety) and the verb bigarrer, meaning a fruit that is ripening on only one side, such as often happens with oranges.

History

The orange blossom, an emblem of abundance and fertility, adorned young Arab and Persian brides and was brought to the Christians by the Crusaders in the Middle Ages and used to decorate crowns and tiaras. Under Louis XIV, people applied lotions made with orange blossom essence, and the royal apartments were strewn with the flowers. Initially dubbed “orange water,” it was not until the 17th century that the term “neroli” appeared, a reference to the Duchess of Tremoille, Princess of Nerola, who perfumed her gloves and bathwater with this highly perfumed essence. Neroli essential oil thus became an essential material in eaux de cologne; the aromatic floral water is used to this day in skincare treatments for toning and soothing sensitive skin.