Jasmine is a popular name these days owing to the movie Aladdin that was just recently released. But what’s behind the name? And moreover, what can you learn about the fragrant-smelling star-shaped Jasmine flowers? Read on to find out.
History of Jasmine Flowers
The name Jasmine is from the Persians and Arabs. The Arabian Jasmine is said to be the first plant known by this name or more specifically, Jasminum sambac as its scientific name. It is widely believed among botanists that the Jasmine flower originated from Persia, now called Iran. It is said to have been brought across the Red Sea into Egypt in early 1000 B.C. and was later brought to Turkey and Greece.
Growing in tropical and subtropical climates, varieties of this flower is also native to Asia. Some even believe that the Jasmine flower may have hailed from the Himalayas in western China. Around 960 to 1279 A.D., the emperors of the Sung Dynasty in China are said to have enjoyed the fragrance of the Jasmine flower.
Around the 1400s, the Jasmine flower is also said to have won the hearts of the kings of Persia, Nepal, and Afghanistan as they ordered the Jasmine flower to be planted all around their palace. In Europe, the Jasmine flower was said to be introduced first in Spain during the 1600s than in other European countries including France and Italy. Unfortunately, the Jasmine flower is not found to be native to continents like North America and Antarctica.
The jasmine flower was said to have spread out from central Asia in the 1700s.
There is also a legend about Jasmine flowers. As the story goes, Persian traders offered a jasmine plant to a Tuscan gardener who planted it in his private garden, refusing to let others cut from his plant. Once it bloomed, the gardener presented it to his beloved who was so enamored by its fragrance that she agreed to marry him. As such, the Tuscan tradition was born and Jasmine flowers have since been part of the bridal bouquet.
Meaning of Jasmine Flowers
The Arabic word for Jasmine is ‘Yasmin’ which translates to fragrant flower and rightfully so because it is one of the most fragrant flowers of all. In Persia, this word means ‘gift from God’. Throughout history, Jasmine has become a popular name with variations like Jessamine, Jasmin, Gessamine, Jeshamy, and Jessamy.
The flower has long been associated with love, beauty, and sensuality. This flower can be seen in bridal bouquets as well as garlands on the bride and groom during their wedding day. Jasmine flowers are often paired with another fragrant flower—roses.
As white Jasmine also symbolizes purity, it is often used in religious ceremonies from weddings to burials. The species Jasminum molle or also known in India as Indian Jui is frequently used in religious ceremonies of the Hindus.
In Thailand, the Jasmine flower is symbolic of a mother’s love and conveys respect. In the United States, it is a flower symbolic of beauty and romance. In China, Jasmine flowers signify feminine attributes like beauty, grace, delicate nature, kindness, and sweetness. It is also said to attract wealth, romance, and happiness.
Characteristics of Jasmine Flower
Jasmine is a member of the olive family and a genus of shrubs and vines. There are around 200 different species of the plant native to tropical and subtropical regions such as in Eurasia and Australasia as well as in Oceania. It is not known to be native to North America and Antarctica.
The plant is widely cultivated for its fragrant flowers and its lifespan of 15 to 20 years in the wild. The plant can be year-round evergreen or deciduous (leaves fall in autumn). There are also varieties that climb like vines while others spread out and still others are more erect.
The Jasmine flower is characterized by its smooth and slender stem, blooms that are around an inch in diameter, and it is white or yellow star-shaped flowers that grow in clusters of at least three blooms although some species may bloom in solitude at the end of their branches. In rare instances, slightly reddish Jasmine flowers may be found.
Jasmine shrubs can reach a height of 10 to 15 feet and the vines can reach up to 30 ft in height. Its leaves also differ with every variety ranging from simple to trifoliate to pinnate with up to 9 leaflets. The leaves are alternate or opposite each other and are around 2.5 inches long.
Jasmine flowers contain both male and female reproductive organs but the stamens and pistils don’t develop together so the flower cannot self-pollinate. Jasmine flowers do attract butterflies and bees that help the flower pollinate.
Jasmine flowers also have berries that are black when ripe. The flower is known as the “Queen of the Night” in India owing to the fact that it releases its fragrance after the sun has set. Its fragrance is even more potent during a full moon. It has a relaxing scent that helps in falling asleep. As such it is often planted outside a bedroom window so as to bring the fragrance in from the garden.
Uses of Jasmine Flower
Jasmine flowers are worn in the hair (take your cue from Mulan). It is also used as a fragrance in soaps, lotions, and perfumes as well as in Jasmine tea. Its buds are used in traditional medicine as a treatment for eye and skin diseases. Its leaves are said to treat breast tumors. The essential oils of Jasmine have relaxing properties and it is also believed to be a sedative and an antidepressant.
Facts about Jasmine Flowers
- Jasmine is a feminine name.
- The Jasmine flower is the national flower of Pakistan.
- Jasmine is grown near a deck or patio to add its fragrant scent into the night air.
- Not all Jasmine flowers are fragrant, but most species are highly-fragrant.
- Jasmine can grow on bushes, shrubs, or vines.
- Jasmine tea is not really made of Jasmine but green tea and later infused with the scent of Jasmine.
Planting is Caring for Jasmine Flowers
Jasmine grows in well-draining soil. It needs bright light but can also be grown indoors if it gets sunlight for up to 4 hours a day so plant it in a southern-facing window. Jasmine plants can handle hot and humid temperatures but will not survive in cold temperatures. Try to keep the temperature at 60 or up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the plant blooming. It can stay in a cool room not below 41 degrees in temperature.
Jasmine needs lots of water to bloom and even more when they are in full bloom. Always make sure the soil is slightly moist so you may need to water the plants on a weekly basis or even twice a week if the soil becomes dry. You can fertilize it with potassium and phosphorus-rich fertilizers that can help extend the bloom time of Jasmine. Indoor Jasmine should be fertilized twice a year and every few weeks when it is in the growing season from spring to summer.