The jasmine, often known mainly in its white, yellow varieties, is one of the most popular flowers as a name. Many people see it on various confectionaries such as napkins, soap, body lotion and even makeup removers. However, not many of these same people know what exactly the jasmine flower looks like. In reality, it is a plant with a structure similar to a combination between a shrub and vines. The number of species in the genus is well past 150 and almost 200. Together with the yellow and white varieties, most known is also the Japanese one as it is one of the most highly regarded flowers in the Hanakotoba (Japanese language of flowers’ system). The plant can be taught to grow short and wide or vice-versa. It has a really flexible body and is useful as a cover for facades, garden walls, for turning a boring gray landscape into a lovely green one. It full, round leaves are coloured in bright green and always manage to insert Nature where they are grown, even if it’s a corporate building!
Jasmine tea is one of the most popular uses of the plant. It comes from the far age of the Chinese Song Dynasty (960–1279) where it was drunk solely in the courts. Now, this tea is statistically the most popular in China and one of the most popular all over the world. This scented tea has soothing abilities and as a consequence can be utilized, depending on the concentration, as an astringent, an analgesic (painkiller), a relaxant and even as a sedative. There is also the very rare and expensive Jasmine essential oil that is produced with difficulty due to the large number of florets needed for the oil. Main producers are India, China and Egypt. Some people who are growing the plant in their gardens or yard know that it can be soothing even as just a smell. Thus, dried it can be used as a simple potpourri together with various other oils and plants.
Since the plant is very old and has grown and has transformed alongside humanity, it is a part of many cultures and legends. One such legend, which is probably the most famous, tried to explain to us why the flower only blooms during the nighttime and has a better aroma during that same half of the day. It is because once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess that fell in love with the Hindu sun god Surya-Deva.
Her fate, however, his feelings for her were rather cold. Desperate of the rejection, she lost her life in an emotional crash. As her ashes were scattered to the ground, they became jasmine flowers. Since her love for a sun god was the reason for her broken heart, the flowers never bloom when the sun is up in the skies.
Exactly because of its relation to cultures and time before time, this plant is often used as a symbol in many countries and societies. In the already mentioned Hanakotoba, mostly due to its tiny little and very gentle florets, the jasmine means ‘Gracefulness’ and ‘Friendliness’. The Jasmine is also used as a national symbol of quite a number of countries. These are the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia and Hawaii. Different species are preferred in many regions. A perfect wedding present, this gentle flower is often entwined around the bridal bouquets or garments at Indian ceremonies.