Everyone loves gardenias for their sweet and intoxicating scent. Gardenias serve as a symbol for secret love, joy, sweet love, and good luck.
Famed Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, named the flower genus after the Scottish naturalist, Dr. Alexander Garden. That’s quite an honor for a flower that has captivated many with its delicious scent. Even Sigmund Freud calls this flower his favorite.
Traditionally, in Chinese medicine they use gardenia for its properties of clearing, calming, and cooling. The Gardenia plant produces a woody, often reddish fruit. The fruit is also used for herbal medicine, despite its bitter taste. It can help to cure the common cold and help in treating bladder infection, insomnia, jaundice, and irritability caused by fever. It can even be turned into an ointment and applied on bruises, sprains, and arthritis to reduce swelling and cool the blood. Additionally, the fruit is considered a food delicacy in China. The buds have a flavor as sweet as the scent and are thus used to garnish many meals. In China’s rural areas, the flowers are used to make teas, desserts, sugars, fruit snacks, ice cream, and syrups.
In both China and Japan, the fruit of the gardenia is used as a yellow dye for food and clothing. And in Ancient Japan, the Japanese would scatter the gardenia’s petals in bath water to add some of that beautiful fragrance.
Everyone wants the smell of the gardenia all the time! The flower’s essential oils are used in perfumes. The oil is used in aromatherapy, to give a pleasant scent to potpourri, and in air fresheners. Other products you might find gardenia in are body oils, hand creams, lotions, body butter, body washes, shampoos, wax candles, oil candles, and ornamental soaps.
Billie Holiday considered the flower her trademark, always wearing them in her hair.