Flowers of bitter orange

Citrus aurantium flower oil is an essential oil extracted from the blossom of the bitter orange tree or Citrus aurantium. The tree belongs to the Rutaceae family, and its extract has a sweet, honeyed, and somewhat metallic scent with a bitter undertone.

The bitter orange tree is mainly grown in the warm regions of Tunisia and is resistant to water, excess cold, and numerous diseases. That is why it is also used as a rootstock. It is indigenous to many countries including Algeria, Spain, Morocco, and Egypt, but the citrus aurantium flower oil from Tunisia and France are believed to be the best.

Apart from the bitter orange flower oil, another extract called ‘orange blossom’ also comes from this tree. Both extracts are used in perfumery because of their pleasant scents. However, orange blossom smells sweeter, floral, and warmer than the bitter orange flower oil. The reason these extracts are different despite coming from the same tree is the difference in their extraction methods. Bitter orange is extracted by steam distillation while orange blossom is obtained through a process called enfleurage.