Apart from their fruit, citrus trees are also known for their splendid blossom going under the collective name of Zagara. The term zagara comes from the fusion of two Arabic words, Zahara meaning “beautifully bright” and zahr, the word for flower. Citrus flowers vary from one species to another and, for this reason, Zagara specifically indicates the flowers of lemon, bitter orange and sweet orange trees. The zagara flower has 5 brilliant white petals and, in the language of flowers, it stands for purity and fertility. This is the reason why orange blossom is often used in flower decorations for weddings to bring luck to the newly-wed couple.
Zagara in literature and art
The term zagara was not commonly used outside of Sicily until the time when the great poet Gabriele D'Annunzio introduced it to his works and it became widespread in the Italian language. Gabriele D'Annunzio, the Italian writer and poet of international renown, was one of the most eminent figures of the European Decadent movement. A figurehead for the literary movements of his time, Gabriele D’Annunzio wrote in his work “Nocturne”: "There is the zagara. It is the Arabic name which Saracen Sicily gives to orange blossom. I learned it as an adolescent on my native beach, from a cabin boy off a schooner. It pleases me so much that if I utter the name, I can smell the perfume. There is the hot-house zagara: a bunch of leaves which vibrate under my touch and, at the centre, the hard buds. I feel them one by one. Some are closed, some are split, some are half open.”
However, there are many other literary texts with poetic references to zagara. In the universally known novel, Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, the bridal bouquet of the elegant protagonist was made up of pure white orange blossom at the peak of their splendour.