Flower Glossary

 

Welcome to our flower glossary, use the A – Z list to find definitions of flower terms.

Our aim is to provide the most comprehensive glossary of flowers.

 

Nature has endowed our world with a rich and varied flora and fauna. This biological heritage has not only beautified our surroundings, but, over the millions of years has weaved an intricate relationship with our human lives.

In this world of wonders, little wonder each human emotion is expressed with the token of some craft of nature – for instance, with token of a flower concealed with its multifarious folds of petals, some deep and significant meaning. A flower, in its silent presence, speaks volume sometimes as an offering to human love, sometimes as a divine gesture: as the Nobel laureate Tagore Speaks

‘Pluck this little flower and take it, delay not! I fear lest it droop and drop into the dust. Though its colour be not deep and its smell be faint, use this flower in thy service and pluck it while there is time’ (Gitanjali, VI)

The exotic language of flowers evolved in the harems of Turkey, used simply to wile away the time, by guessing the meanings attached to each individual flower. It was also employed as a medium of secret communication between lovers.

Glossary of Flowers: Z

Zinnia

The ‘Zinnia’ is named after the botanist J.G.Zinn (1727-59). It is any species of the genus Zinnia of the family Asteraceae. The common zinnia of gardens (Z. elegans), called also youth-and-old-age, is a rather coarse, easily cultivated annual, popular as a cut flower for its warm colours—ranging from white and yellow to red and purple.

The large, showy flowers of various colours symbolise different human emotions, generally fond remembrance of absent friends. A magenta zinnia shows lasting affection for one’s beloved, while a bright scarlet zinnia is a sign of devotion. The white flower suggests goodness of heart and mind and a yellow zinnia personifies daily remembrance of a loved one. A bouquet of mixed zinnia shows concern and thoughts of absent friends, remembering fond moments and bygone days of happiness. It is a small token of nature with varied meaning underlying its bright colour surfaces.

Scientifically, Zinnias are classified in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida and the order Asterales.

Glossary of Flowers: W

Wallflower

In Voltaire’s words, ‘perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time’. In the world of fauna, the painstakingly slow measures by which a virginal bud blossoms into a beautiful flower, attains the stature of perfection when the humanity enthuses over its exotic charms.

The wallflower, a great favourite for bedding and containers among gardeners, is a fragrant biennial, which produces its spring flowers over a long period of time. Biologically, the wallflower belongs to the Cherianthus genus. The Fair Lady series in this family of flowers reflect the gentler shades and hues, while an expansive assortment of bright colours is also available – ruby-red, cream, yellow, orange, purple and yellow when wild. Other forms that are true from seed are ‘Blood Red’ and the ‘Bedder Series’.

Wallflower is coined so since it is often found clinging to old walls. In language however, a wallflower is a person who remains a spectator at a dance, idly without a partner. Thus, in the subtle flower symbolism, a wallflower indicates intense fidelity even in the throes of adversity. As the Bard speaks through the melancholic Jacques in As You Like It: “Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head”.

Water Lily

Water Lily

Water lily is a common name for a small family of aquatic plants. The botanical name for which family is Nymphaeaceae.

There are about 70 different species of water lilies. These are grouped into night, tropical and hardy. Night lilies bloom in the night. Tropical lilies can be found in tropical climates and bloom at all times of the day. Hardy lilies are able to withstand most conditions and are the most common.

Water lilies live in slow-moving or still, fresh water. The roots are embedded in the mud at the bottom of the water and the stem grows up towards the light. The leaves are very distinctive, they are usually found floating on the surface of the water, have an oval or circular outline and are notched to the center. Water lilies are also able to reproduce by budding. The roots of the plant detach and grow into new water lilies.

The habitat climate of the water lily is usually hot, and in areas where there are few plants so that they don’t have competition for sunlight. This is important because sunlight is the main way that water lilies are able to receive food and energy. Water lilies live in water that is rich in oxygen and receives a lot of sunlight.

The colour of the water lily flowers may be white, pink, yellow, or blue but, hybrid species can have unusual colours and shapes.

The largest water lily is the Giant Water Lily and can be found in the Amazon. It can grow to be 2 feet to 6 feet in diameter. Claude Monet painted many paintings of water lilies. He got the idea because he had a water garden and enjoyed the plants’ beauty and difference.

Glossary of Flowers: V

Violet

Disraeli rated the value of candour above all other qualities, “Candour is the brightest gem of criticism”. The flower symbolising candour is the white violet. In terms of love, the white violet is emblematic of an adventurous spirit. This white flower, known as Viola Alba, has other coloured varieties. In fact, violet is the common name for some members of the Violaceae, a family of chiefly perennial herbs.

The perfumed flower heads range from deep purple to yellow or white, and are popular as ornamentals. Garden violets, often labelled as violas, are generally hybrids and may be purple, blue, rose, yellow, white, or combinations of these, sometimes with double flowers. It became the flower of Athens. The followers of Napoleon, who promised to return from Elba with violets in the spring, used the blossom as their insignia.The flavours of various species, particularly the sweet violet, have been used for perfume, dye, and medicine. The flowers are generally deep purple, giving their name to the colour that is called after them, but lilac, pale rose-coloured or white variations are also frequent. The sweet violet (Viola odorata) represents modesty. The flowers are full of honey and are created perfectly for bee visitors.

There is indeed a remarkable botanical curiosity in the structure of the Violet: it produces flowers both in the spring and in autumn. Violet is the diminutive form of the Latin Viola, the Latin form of the Greek name Ione. There is a fable that when Jupiter changed his beloved Io into a white heifer for fear of Juno’s envy and he created these modest flowers to spring forth from the earth to be apt food for her christening them after her. Another derivation of the word Violet is said to be from Vias, which means wayside.Another variety, the Dog Violet differs principally from the Sweet Violet in its long straggling stems and paler blue flowers. The popular name of this plant is a reproach for its want of perfume. Notwithstanding its name however, a gift of blue violets is a pledge to be always true in love.

Interestingly, Pliny states that a garland of violets worn about the head will dispel the fumes of wine and prevent headache and dizziness. The ancient Britons used the flowers as a cosmetic, and in a Celtic poem it is said that violets steeped in goats’ milk are thought to increase female beauty.

Glossary of Flowers: T

Tulip

It is said, “the eyes of women are Promethean fires”. No praise is sufficient to encompass the exotic beauty of a woman’s eyes. However, the gift of a tulip might do the magic! Yes, a variegated tulip symbolises beautiful eyes. In fact, a yellow tulip says, “There is sunshine in your smile” and expresses almost hopeless love. A red tulip within its petals enfolds a secret declaration of love.

In the Persian language, tulip means a ‘turban’ due to its bulbous shape.

The tulip is a plant of the large genus Tulipa, hardy, bulbous-rooted members of the family Liliaceae found in abundance on the steppes of Central Asia. Cultivated tulips, popular as garden and cut flowers and as potted plants, are chiefly varieties of T. gesneriana. They have deep, cup-shaped blossoms of various rich colours. Tulip seeds are said to have been introduced into Europe in 1554 from Turkey, where they were possibly first cultivated.

Since tulips are large, showy, and usually solitary, flowers, a “tulip’ has come to mean ‘a showy person’. ‘Tulipomania’ is the craze for tulip growing, originating in the Netherlands in the 17th. Century. The Netherlands is still the most important centre of tulip culture. In fact; tulip is the floral emblem of Holland. In the language of flowers, the tulip stands for perfect love. A violet tulip shows modesty. Each shade expresses some emotion of life.

Tulips are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, and order Liliales.

Glossary of Flowers: S

Sage of Bethlehem

The Sage is any species of the large genus Salvia, aromatic herbs or shrubs of the family Labiatae. The common sage of herb gardens is S. officinalis, a strongly scented shrubby perennial, and native from S Europe to Asia Minor.

The dried leaves are used as seasoning; sage tea, once popular as a beverage, has also been used as a domestic remedy for colds and other ailments. Prized since ancient times, common sage was thought to prolong life and to increase wisdom by strengthening the memory and hence the name.

From the thirteenth century onwards, a tradition evolved of displaying models of the stable, crib and the Holy family in churches and homes on the occasion of Christmas. Nowadays, the stable is filled only with hay or straw but great care was taken in previous times in choosing appropriate flowers for inclusion in the stable scene. Each was chosen for its fragrance or symbolism. Legends grew around the flowers, and appropriate names were given to them.

In Lincolnshire, the name given to garden mint was Sage of Bethlehem. Botanically, the sage is a garden labiate plant, often used in culinary preparations like stuffing for goose. Belonging to the Salvia family, the sage expresses goodness, virtue and a high esteem for the person offered this flower. The sage was dedicated to Mary, and carries significant religious significance.

Sage is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida, and order Lamiales.

Snowdrop

Snowdrop

Flowers are often the source of great poetic inspiration. As we contemplate Nature’s diversities, we find the delicate wonder of white snowdrops causing the poet Wordsworth to express in sheer awe:

 

Love Flower, hemmed in with snows,
And white as they But hardier for, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead as if fearful to offered,
Like an unbidden guest….
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years.

A snowdrop is a drooping bell-shaped white flower, of early spring, which resembles the colour or rather the translucent whiteness of the crystals and flecks of snow. Thus the name ‘snowdrop’ came about. Scientifically, this flower is known as Galanthus nivalis, belonging to the Amarhyllidaceae family. Interestingly, a snowdrop is symbolic of consolation; maybe just gazing at the flower soothes the hearts wounds.

Spider Flower

Spider Flower

Some things, some human emotions and instincts remain eternal, evergreen. Love, of course. And the best way to express such common yet unique feelings is to be original in expression, thus carving an immemorial niche in the heart of one’s beloved. As Klopstock says, ‘one of the best uses of originality is, to say common things in an uncommon way.’

So, when you receive a single spider flower one special evening, what do you understand of this mysterious message? How would you react? Well, a spider flower is a special way of asking one’s beloved: Will you elope with me? Romantic, isn’t it?

A spider flower is an annual of the genus Cleome, bearing clusters of white or pink flowers, with long stamens reminiscent of spider’s legs. Etymologically, the word ‘spider’, which is a derivative of the Old English term ‘spithra’, means ‘to spin’. So, next time, you are romantically inclined to spin the magic of love and entrancement over your beloved, the special way to propose elopement and a lifetime of togetherness would be to convey the secret message of love enfolded within the fragrant petals of spider-flower.

Sunflower

Sunflower

The sunflower is testimony to the majesty of the sun. The ‘sun-dance’ is a North-American Indian ceremonial dance performed in honour of the sun. The ‘sun-flower’ is said to be so photosensitive that it always turns towards the light of the sun. Sunflower is commonly associated with pride and adoration. However, the wise saying – ‘all that glitters is not gold’ pertains to this majestic yellow flower’.

Ah! Sunflower!

Ah! Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;
Where the youth pined away with desire
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my sunflower wishes to go!

William Blake, 1794

A plant of the genus Helianthus of the family Asteraceae, the sun is attributed with a number of uses. The nutritious seeds were eaten raw, made into a meal, and even sometimes used as a source of hair oil. A yellow dye was obtained from the flower heads, and a fibre from the stalks. Today the common sunflower is widely cultivated; it is particularly valued in the countries of the former Soviet Union, where the seeds are made into bread. The seeds are almost universally used as a poultry food and principally as the source of oil utilized for such purposes as cooking and soap making.

The common sunflower is the state flower of Kansas, and a sunflower is regarded as the floral emblem of Peru, where this flower was much reverenced by the Aztecs, and in their temples of the Sun, the priestesses were crowned with Sunflowers and carried them in their hands. The early Spanish conquerors found in these temples numerous representations of the Sunflower wrought in pure gold. The giant sunflower, also called the ‘tall sunflower’ is a composite plant, Helianthus giganteus with very large yellow flower heads.

Sunflowers are classified in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida and order Asterales.

Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea

The Sweet Pea or Lathyrus odoratus is a highly scented flowering plant.Its ancestry can be traced back to the 17 th century and is native to the eastern Mediterranean region from Sicily east to Crete. The sweet pea plant has qualities of rich coloured flowers that possessed a powerful and attractive fragrance.

The sweet pea plant reached the shores of England, courtesy of a Sicilian monk, Franciscus Cupani, who sent seeds to Dr. Robert Uvedale, a schoolmaster of Enfield, in 1699. Cupani clearly considered the plant to be of some importance, because he also sent seed to Caspar Commelin in Amsterdam at the same time.

An individual sweet pea bloom consists of three or four flowers (or florets) on a stem.

Sweet Pea’s come in a range of different colours such as purples, pinks, creams and salmons. It is an annual climbing plant, growing to a height of 1-2 m but, unlike most peas, the seeds of the sweet pea should not be eaten as they are poisonous.

Sweet peas mean “delicate pleasures”. They are often grown by gardeners for their bright colours and the sweet fragrance that gives them their name.

The name “sweet pea” is believed to have first been used by the poet Keats (1795-1821).

Sweet Pea (Delicate Pleasures)

“Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight
With wings of gentle flusho’er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things
To bind them all about with tiny rings.” Keats

Sweet William

Sweet William

The gift of a Sweet William indicates yearning, a wish for a smile! This fragile blossom is a garden pink, scientifically named Dianthus barbatus, with bearded petals. Sweet William is a Pink having clusters of small, variously coloured flowers. It is also referred to as bunch pink.

Famous for its spicy fragrance, this blossom belongs to the popular group of ornamental pinks. Of course, even flower experts differ in their interpretation of the ‘true meaning’ of this flower. A gift of sweet William requests, “Sweet lady, grant me one smile!”

Glossary of Flowers: R

Resurrection Flower

In the religion and mythology of almost every ancient country n the world, a garden is portrayed as the place of divine habitation. In the classical mythologies, such a heavenly abode exited atop the mount Olympus, unreachable by the fruny mortal. Again, in the Biblical version of the formation of this world, the first parents of mankind resided in the Garden of Eden.

In Indian literature, the gods resided in the Garden of Indra, among fruits and flowers that rendered immortality to those who received it.

The sacred meanings given to the plants that first grow in these marvellous gardens and have since been dedicated or symbolic to the gods and prominent figures of the world’s religious, have been handed down through generations. And among he flowers associated with the Christian religious beliefs is the Resurrection flower.

If grows in the sandy deserts of Egypt, Arabia and Syria. When the flowers and the leaves of this plant have withered and fallen to the ground, the dying branches start curling inwards forming a round ball. After the roots die, the plant is blown around by the winds before lodging in a damp spot. The ball then expands again, and deposits its seed, which germinate. Once this plant is watered, the dried-up withered young plant fill with a revitalizing life and soon begin to bud again. The plant was thought to be a favourite to nativity, and was also called the Rose of the Madonna.

It was believed to have bloomed first at Christ’s birth in the manager, and then died and closed at Christ’s cruxification, before blooming once again at Easter time, this justifying its title of ‘Resurrection flower’ Another popular name attached to this flower is the Rose of Jericho.

Rose

Rose

The botanical name of the rose is rosa and has long been the symbol for love and passion. Roses originate from China and are now cultivate from America to Africa and from Eastern Europe to the Far East. Today, there are over 30,000 varieties of roses and have the most complicated family tree of any known flower species. Roses were extensively grown in the Middle East during the Roman period, where they were used in food, as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume.

In the 19 th century, old scented roses were used to make jelly. The red rose is the symbol of England and is worn on St George’s Day. It is also the symbol of love and is hugely popular on St Valentine’s Day.

Roses come in all sizes and there are different varieties for different locations. Roses have amazing scents, astonishing beauty and some varieties have vigorous growth that will sprint up a tree, using it as a frame.

In Greek mythology, it is said that it was Aphrodite, the goddess of love who gave the rose its name. The rose was created by Chloris the goddess of flowers with the help of Aphrodite who gave her beauty and Dionysus, the god of wine, who added nectar to give her a sweet scent.

Myth also has it that Venus’ son Cupid accidentally shot arrows into the rose garden when a bee stung him, and it was the “sting” of the arrows that caused the roses to grow thorns. And, when Venus walked through the garden and pricked her foot on a thorn, it was the droplets of her blood which turned the roses red.

Through the ages, roses have been used to express feelings, sentiments and emotions that may have been hard to express any other way. Roses are treasured for their beauty, mystery, and fragrance throughout the world and as such, have been the focus of many poems and comments.

“It was roses, roses all the way.”
– Robert Browning

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose; By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet , Act 2 scene 2

Glossary of Flowers: P

Pansy

A great deal of poetry and thought has been given to love, magic and the potential of floral aphrodisiacs. The humble pansy, when put over the eyes of a sleeping person, compelled him or her to pursue the first person they set eyes on in the morning. Dedicated to St. Euphrasia, the pansy is celebrated on this saint’s day, the 13th of March.

This flower of the ‘Viola’ family indicates deep thought. The upturned side petals and the large leafy stipules justify the name ‘pansy’ derived from the French “penser” which means ‘to think’. Pansies are available in assorted range of colours, such as, white, violet, and soft blue, purple and sometimes bi-coloured too. The common pansy was originally derived, long ago, from Viola tricolor hortensis, one of several species called heartsease and Johnny-jump-up. The Eastern field pansy is however, a separate species.

Passion Flower

Passion Flower

Literally, the word ‘passion’ is derived from its Latin source ‘passio ‘ which means ‘to suffer’. In fact, passion indicates the sufferings on the cross and the death of Christ. In the world of flora, ‘passion-flower’ is any flower or plant of the genus Passiflora, consisting mostly of climbers of tropical and warm temperate America. Passiflora caerulea or ‘Constance Elliot’ is a white variant of the better-known blue passionflower.

The plant has an active principle called Passiflorine, used as a drug; in fact, it is known to be a depressant, with narcotic properties that helps in diarrhoea and dysentery, neuralgia, sleeplessness and dysmenorrhoea.

The passionflower is a vigorous frost-hardy climber with deep green divided leaves, and beautiful scented white, blue, pink and cerise flowers with creamy filament. It is called ‘passion-flower’ due to parts of the flower resembling the crown of thorns, nails and other symbols of Christ’s suffering. The passionflower is associated with faith, holy love, religious fervour and superstition. It is a prominent Christian flower symbol as its pointed leaf resembles a spear, the tendrils the whips, the column of the ovary signifies the cross and the dark circle of threads in the centre the crown of thorns. The flower portrays the passion of Christ. If the flower were white, as in the ‘Constance Elliot’ variety, it denotes piety; blue means heaven. The three days’ life span of the flower is supposed to mean – “so shall the son of man be three days and nights in the heart of the earth”

Peppermint

Peppermint

Often we have a mint to freshen our mouths. The peppermint flower is used as a special symbol. It indicates warmth of feeling, a snug comfortable state. This flower comes from an aromatic and pungent species of the mint family, Mentha Piperita. In fact, the true mints belong to the genus Mentha. Commercially the most important species of this genus is the peppermint (Mpiperita).

The leaves and tops are sometimes dried and utilized for flavouring and in medicine. The liquor distilled from this strong-something herb is an oil extremely in demand as a carminative and stimulant and for its derivative menthol as well as for flavouring purposes, especially in chewing gum and candy. It is used in the preparation of medicine as a disguise for disagreeable tastes of drugs. Even the leaves of this plant are used as an amazing digestive respiratory and immune stimulant. It helps in matters of nausea, irritable bowel, and headaches. So next time, you suck on a mint, be aware of the significance attached to it!

Petunia

Petunia

The petunia is an invaluable showy half hardy annual, which blooms from late spring to late autumn. These plants are drought resistant, always planted in full sun in a protected position. They need good drained soil, a trifle loamy and need to be kept away from the danger of frost. The flowers are saucer shaped or trumpet like according to the many varieties of petunia.

The colours are bright and vivacious full of life and vigour in shades of pink, ruby, purple, white and yellow sometimes striped or veined. The grandiflora petunias produce long trailing stems, which look a pretty contrast with the glowing colours of the blossoms. Petunia when gifted to someone shows haughty resentment mixed with anger at something the receiver has inadvertently done.

Of course, a petunia is also suggestive of a charming presence as if the flower seems to whisper lovingly to the beloved “Your presence soothes me!” what a unique way to praise your loving one!

Poppy

Poppy

Keats imagined mellow autumn personified as a harvesting woman holding a sickle, half-asleep in a field of beautiful poppies. Yes, the poppy is associated with opium and therefore generally symbolical of eternal sleep and oblivion.

Poppy is the common name for some members of the Papaveraceae, a family composed chiefly of herbs of the Northern Hemisphere having a characteristic milky or coloured sap. The poppy flower is a brilliant coloured though short-lived blossom. Many of the species have several varieties and show a wide range of colours, especially in red, yellow, and white shades. The most frequently cultivated forms are the Oriental poppy (P. orientale), usually bearing a large scarlet flower with a purplish black base, and the corn poppy (P. rhoeas).

The latter is also known as the red poppy, scientifically termed Papaver Rhoeas, which is very slightly narcotic. In the language of flowers, the red petals are suggestive of deep pleasure.

The white poppy or Papaver somniferum is commonly referred to as the opium poppy. This variety of poppy is indigenous to Asia Minor. Hypnotic and sedative, this opium poppy or white poppy whispers words of affection. Opium is extracted from the poppy heads before they have ripened. From early times, the drug was well known to the Greeks and Romans. It is likely that the physicians of the Arabian school introduced the drug into India, as well as into Europe. It was initially used only as a medicine; the custom of opium eating first arose in Persia.

Opium is a valuable drug with two principal alkaloids, Morphine and Codeine, being its constituents.

Yellow poppies or Welsh poppies are an emblem of wealth and success. In the times of war, poppies became popular. ‘Poppy Day’ commemorates Armistice Day or Remembrance Sunday when artificial poppies are sold for charities.

Glossary of Flowers: O

Oak

Some plants have become perennially entrenched in our memories, and often in the annals of literature, with certain images and associations. An instance of this is the oak-tree strong, hardy and reliable, this tree of the beech family is an emblem of unchanging durable mettle. The timber of oak of the Quercus genus is invaluable in shipbuilding.

Interestingly, the oak, tree has a historic significance-after the Battle of Worchester, when Cromwell’s troopers were & hunting down the dethroned monarch’s son, Charles II, the letter had found safe refuge in the branches of an oak-which came to be later called the Royal Oak. In fact, in commemoration of this historic event of 1651, every 29th of May is annually celebrated as the Oak Apple Day in England. This old tradition of wearing an oak twig or leaf or an oak apple is a way of celebrating the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. In the middle ages, oak boughs were carried in wedding ceremonies as symbols of fertility. In the language of flower-symbolism due to the historic associations, the oak flower stands for warm hospitality.

In the world of dreams, and the possible explanations of things seen in dreams-a green oak signifies a long and happy life, while a withered oak predicts poverty in old age. Thriving oaks promise male children who will win distinction. Oaks bearing acorns mean wealth and riches while a blasted oak symbolized death.

Olive

Olive

Olive is a tree (scientifically termed Olea europaea) cultivated round the Mediterranean for its oily fruit. The fruit, the oil are indispensable ingredients in the Mediterranean cuisine. According to archaeological findings, the olive is believed to have been cultivated from its wild form for over five thousand years. Olive groves existed in Egypt and ancient create, and the civilization which spring up, essentially revolved around this significant tree and its by products.

The virtues of the olive-tree can be simply enumerated it provided a wonderful, much better and varied diet for the population, as well as supplied the much-needed lamp-oil, bringing people from the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge. The olive was the most important, and valued tree in both Roman and Christian writings. Jesus Christ is said to have spent his last night in the Garden of Gestemane beneath an olive tree, and anointment with olive oil is symbolic to a large part of Christendom. In the international sphere, the olive is taken to be the worldwide symbol of peace. This is possible due to the fact that in early harvesting, many years passed between the panting of the seed and the gathering of the final fruit, and no man who did not wish for a long and peaceful life would plant an olive grove.Often the dove carrying an olive branch in its beak is associated with this peace symbolism.

Legend says that the dove with the olive branch or leaf was the messenger who brought it to Noah aboard the Ask, so that Noah would be able to gauge the level of the flood water – the dove with olive brought hope that the flood was receding, drawing to an end, and the trees could be seen above the sinking water-level. A German tradition further elaborates upon this legend –that the olive leaf brought by the dove in the Noah’s Ask tale, actually came from the olive tree which had spring upon the grave of Adam.

In these turbulent times of modem civilization, with its terrible weapons’ galore and greedy impatient power- grasping authorities, the olive as the tranquil scene gesture of peace has become even more important, and much – needed balm in our lives.

Glossary of Flowers: N

Narcissus

Narcissus poeticus, commonly called the poet’s narcissus, is derived from the family of Amaryllidaceae. In fact, it is any bulbous plant belonging to the genus Narcissus, of this family, having showy yellow or white flowers with a cup-shaped corona. The white flower symbolises selfishness, possibly due to the legend associated with this flower. According to a Greek myth, Narcissus was a beautiful youth who refused all offers of love, including that of Echo and who, ultimately fell in love with his own image reflected in a well, and pined away until he was changed into a flower that bears his name. The yellow-coloured narcissus, commonly known as daffodil, expresses deep unrequited love, a passionate cry of ‘You are the only one’. According to some flower-critics, daffodils are a sign of respect and formality. In the Romantic imagination, daffodils have often found centre-space, is the famous lines of Wordsworth express:

“ I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

From the legend of this flower ‘narcissus’, the state known as narcissistic or self-centred has come into prominence.

Glossary of Flowers: M

Mistletoe

Mistletoe is the common name for the Loranthaceae, a family of chiefly tropical semi parasitic herbs and shrubs with leathery evergreen leaves and waxy white berries. They have green leaves, but they manufacture only part of the nutrients they require. Mistletoes are aerial semi parasites, attaching themselves to their hosts by modified roots called haustoria, with which they absorb water and food from the host.

In botanical terms, the mistletoe is called Viscum album, with white viscous fruits, growing on apples, apricots, and very rarely on the oak. No wonder, ‘ mistletoe’ is often taken to denote somebody who is a parasite by nature!

Mistletoe is associated with Christmas Day, 25th of December and is an integral part of Christmas celebration and decoration.

Another significant meaning is also attached to this interesting flower, “I want to be kissed!”

The custom of kissing under a branch of mistletoe apparently originated among the Druids and other early Europeans, to whom mistletoe was sacred. From early times it has been associated with folklore and superstition.

In England, the Christmas mistletoe was burned on the Twelfth Night so that boys and girls who had kissed under it would not be jinxed and would be able to marry.

The Victorians saw the flower as an emblem of the power to surmounting difficulties; this is possibly due to the arduous task of this parasitic flower to survive in spite of harsh and hostile circumstances.

The mistletoe family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida and the order Santalales.

Myrtle

Myrtle

The romantic heritage of some flowers is relatively easy to trace. For instance, myrtle was sacred to Aphrodite, the mythological Greek goddess of love. In the floral pattern of meaning, it is no surprise, that the flower myrtle symbolizes love.

Biologically, myrtle is the common name for the Myrtaceae, a family of shrubs and trees almost entirely of tropical regions, characterized by evergreen fragrant leaves containing aromatic volatile oils. Many have showy blossoms. The myrtle flower is associated not only with love and affection, but it signifies joy and happiness.

In medieval times, the myrtle was used for bridal garlands. Flowers are inseparable from wedding ceremonies, where they are emblems of fertility as well as decoration. In the past, the bride wore a garland of flowers in her hair, signifying that the reputation of the bride was flawless. The Roman bridegroom wore a wreath of myrtle. The Victorians, with their love of flowers, endowed them with finer shade of meaning. Myrtle in the Victorian era came to be associated with duty, affection, discipline and home. This flower is also the Hebrew emblem of marriage. In the world of superstition, if a person dreams of a myrtle, it is a promise of many lovers and a legacy. If a married person dreams of myrtle, it foretells a second marriage!

The classical myrtle (M. communis) is native to the Mediterranean area. It is a strongly scented bush whose glossy leaves and blue-black berries were made into wreaths for victors in the ancient Olympic games.

The myrtle family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida and order Myrtales.

Glossary of Flowers: L

Laurel

Human emotions always ebb and flow in a seesaw pattern – sometimes we are ecstatically happy, and sometimes we are drooping like withered blossoms. Well, most other times, life’s a pale shade of grey – more of sniffles than sobs or smiles. And one of the best ways to cheer up a gloomy mood, or a depressing situation is to surround oneself with beauty-fresh, natural beauty.

The laurel is one of the easiest, and most tolerant evergreen shrubs, which will brighten any dim dark corner of your room by its happy presence. The spotted laurel, alias the ‘Gold dust’ is scientifically termed ‘Aucuba japonica’ – and this is a female plant, unlike some other varieties of laurel. If a male plant is nearby such as ‘Lance Leaf’ or ‘Crassifolia’ often the small spring flowers of the Gold dust – flowers of a reddish – purple tinge, will transform into persistent and glowing red berries. The laurel has a great number of forms –the ground laurel is a symbol of perseverance, the ability to sustain odds, overcome obstacles, and emerge a winner.

The mountain Laurel is usually associated with high ambition, which motivates a person to reach outwards and upwards in life. However, in general terms, the present of a laurel is not a very happy sign –for other forms of laurel, That is, a general laurel flower indicates perfidious behaviours as well as treachery. Thus, next time someone gifts you a laurel, its more a censure than a compliment!

Larkspur

Larkspur

Larkspur is known for its tall spikes of blue, lavender, purple, pink or white flowers. It is a members of the Delphinium family.

The genus name “Delphinium” comes from the Greek word “delphis,” which means “dolphin.” To the Greeks the flowers of larkspur, resembled the shape of a dolphin.

The Annual Delphinium is one of the best known annuals, bearing long racemes of lovely coloured flowers and lacy foliage.

The genus of larkspur was recently changed from Delphinium to Consolida . Two species of larkspur are used for cut flowers: Consolida ambigua and Consolida orientalis. C. orientalis is more upright than C. ambigua , and colours are often shades of bright pink and purple. C. ambigua have more branches initially and colours are usually light pink or blue.

In Greek mythology larkspur flowers are said to have sprang from the blood of Ajax, who committed suicide after not being given the armor of the fallen warrior Achilles. It was once used to heal wounds in the field, to kill parasites, which prey especially on those living under difficult conditions. Another name for it is “knight’s spur.” larkspur is also said to keep away scorpions and venomous snakes as well as more ethereal threats, like ghosts.

Larkspur is the birth flower for the month of July. It is nice mixed with other Summer Solstice herbs such as lavender, cinquefoil, mugwort, roses, elder, fennel, vervain and hemp in pot pourri or incense.

Lily

Lily

Lily is the common name for the Liliaceae, a plant family numbering several species, widely distributed over the earth and particularly abundant in warm temperate and tropical regions.

In Christian symbolism, the lily represents purity, chastity and innocence. As the flower of the Resurrection and of the Virgin it is widely used at Easter. The lily of the Bible (Cant. 2.1) has been variously identified with the scarlet anemone, Madonna lily, and other plants; the “lilies of the field” (Mat. 6.28) probably means any wildflowers, perhaps the iris. In fact, the Convalleria variety- also known as ‘lily of the valley’, with two long oval leaves and spikes of white bell-shaped flowers represents the Tears of the Virgin Mary, a resurgence of happiness. White lily bouquets are especially popular in Christian homes, during the Easter holiday, for they symbolize Christ’s resurrection.

Many species are cultivated as ornamentals since the blossoms are showy and colourful. While lilies come in a variety of colours, most people associate lilies with white, symbolizing purity. The ‘Lily of the Nile’ or African Lily denotes secret love discreet rendezvous and love letters. Yellow Lilies express gratitude and fun. At times, coquetry, even flirtatious behaviour is suggested through the gift of a lily, especially the Oriental and Eucharis variety.

Interestingly, ‘lily’ has even entered our language as a novel-term- ‘lily- livered’ suggests white –livered, and therefore cowardice.

Lilies are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, and order Liliales, family Liliaceae.

Lotus

Lotus

According to Hindu mythological tale, when the reverent Lord Ram prayed before the goddess to bestow upon him her divine blessing, she had imposed a condition upon her devotee-that he should worship her with no less than one hundred and eight lotus flowers (one hundred and eight is an auspicious number in the Hindu-mythology).

However, Lord Ram after much effort and search, could come up with only one less than the number desired at such a critical moment, he recalled that his beautiful eyes were often called ‘lotus-eyes’ (as beautiful as a lotus). The true devotee therefore, unhesitatingly took out his dagger and was just about to plunge it into his eye-socket to offer his eye instead of the missing lotus – when the goddess appeared and told him that the entire task had been a hard way of testing the depth of his devotion and prayer.

The lotus is so highly venerated as a plant that it appears symbolically in architecture, paintings, and held by Egyptian mummies. The Egyptians themselves grew three species of lotus-one blue – flower, one white and one red.

In the Greek legends and tales, the lotus-flower is sacred and venerated. It is a symbol of beauty. Again, in the Hindu tradition, as stated before, many a legend revolves around the presence of the lotus. A golden lotus bears the god Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

The lotus is used as a symbol for the Buddhists since many depictions of Lord Buddha include a lotus situated either near or under him, and is therefore intimately associated with Buddha both in India and in China. It is the emblem of paradise; it is sign of the heavenly abode in Japan. In fact, in its different incarnations, it represents the spirituality of a large area of the world.

In precise scientific terms, the lotus is an Egyptian or Indian water lily of various species of Nymphaea and the Nelumbium. Interesting stories are connected with this flower, apart from its varied religious associations. The lotusis often regarded in literature as the plant, (possibly the jujube) in North Africa, whose fruit induced in the eater a state of blissful indolence and forgetfulness. These eaters, or as they were termed, the lotus – eaters find mention in Jennyson’s poem ‘the Lotus – Eaters’. Burning the wide and adventurous journey undertaken by the Greek hero Ulysses while returning back to his kingdom in Ithaca, he had encountered this strange land and race of the Lotus- Eaters, for whom the Epicurean philosophy of ‘Eat, drink and be merry’ was the mantra for their existence.

However, the language of flowers, as tokens indicating a special feeling or emotion- well, according to this flower- symbolism, the lotus stands as a sign of estranged love –lovers who have parted, either due to hostile circumstances or due to internal friction.

Love in a Mist

Love in a Mist

The plant scientifically called Nigella damascena is a charming, easy-to-grow perennial with feathery foliage and beautiful flowers of different shades-white, rose, dark blue or blue or pale blue surrounded by a cluster of fibrous bracts. In fact, the seedpods of this plant are often dried for use by flower arrangers. Charming, but nothing special, one would say!

But hold on, this flower has an interesting connotation – possible due to its appearance, rather obtrusively hidden among its foliage; this flower is also called love-in-a-mist! In fact, where flowers are often used to communicate feelings of attraction, affection or love, this flower- ‘love-in-a-mist’ signifies perplexity and confusion. It is also called fennel-flower, as are other plants of the genus and devil-in-the-bush.

‘Love-in-a-mist’ is dedicated to the Christian saint, St. Catherine and is offered to the saint on the 25th of November.

Love-in-a-mist is classified in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, and family Ranunculaceae.

Glossary of Flowers: I

Iris

The Iris is the ‘Fleur de Lys’ emblem of France. A plant of the Iridaceae family of perennial herbs, which includes the crocuses, freesias, and gladioli, it has sword-shaped leaves and beautiful blue flowers. The iris family is closely related to the lily and amaryllis families, differing from them in having three stamens rather than six.

The many species of wild iris are most common in temperate and sub arctic regions of North America, where they are often called flags, or blue flags.

Among the many varieties, there is the Siberian Iris, the Grass-leaved flag, the slender-Blue Flag Iris and the wild Iris. The plant is named after the goddess, ‘Iris,’ because of the beauty and variety of colours in the flowers of the genus. In Greek mythology, Iris was the messenger goddess who travelled on the rainbow path between the realms of Humans and the Gods. The flower ‘iris’ indicates a message; a promise of hope. Iris is popularly associated with wisdom and valour. Iris, in Greek mythology, goddess of the rainbow; is the daughter of Electra and Thaumas. She was often represented as a messenger of Zeus and Hera.

From ancient times the stately Iris stood as a symbol of power and majesty. This flower was dedicated to Juno. Interestingly, it is thought that it was the origin of the scepter. The Egyptians placed it on the brow of the Sphinx and on the sceptre of their kings, the three leaves of its blossoms typifying faith, wisdom and valour.

Many of the Flag Irises have a considerable reputation for their medicinal virtues. In all the species belonging to this genus, the roots are believed to possess of cathartic and emetic properties.

Irises are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, and order Liliales, family Iridaceae.

Glossary of Flowers: H

Hawthorn

In Old English, the word ‘haw’ or rather ‘haga’ meant a yard or an enclosure. Deriving from its original meaning, the ‘hawthorn’ is usually planted as a hedge of any garden.

A plant of the rose family (Rosaceae), more accurately, known as Crataegus oxyacantha, the hawthorn blossom is a symbol of hope.

It has long been used as a symbol of spring in English poetry. It is also called the ‘May-bloom’ or the ‘May-tree’.

In ancient Greece, this blossom has a strange association with the marriage-ritual. Hawthorn was used for marriage – torches- and it was auspicious for the brides to wear a crown of hawthorn during the wedding ceremony. As a symbol of hope, it carried best wishes and hopes for the happy couple to live a wonderful life of wedded love together. Hawthorn is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida, and order Rosales.

Hazel

Hazel

In recent times, Sigmund Freud has placed his own unique interpretation to the world of dreams. In former times, the soul of a person asleep was thought to wander away from his body and visit places or perform acts of which he dreams.

Discovering hazelnuts in dreams predicted the finding of treasure. Almost in fairy-tale sequence, cracking and eating them meant riches. The dainty flower of the Corylus family is an emblem of reconciliation. Light brown in colour; the hazel flower evokes inspiration for many poets especially the hazel eyes of a lovely lady!

Heath

Heath

Since both religiously and scientifically, the world of flora came to existence much before the world of fauna, much of the flowers and plants around us in this sylvan natural earth is attributed special significances, especially associated with some religious belief or mythological tale.

St. Nicholas, one of the sacred and prominent figures of Christendom is believed to be the patron saint of the nest flowered heath’s and on the 6th of December which is the holy day of the saint, such forms of heath is offered with the prayers. The springs of this plant is traditionally left at the end of the bed, on the eve of Christmas. This is the traditional way of acknowledging his generosity on the auspicious day of Christmas.

In the special language of flowers, the heath is always associated with loneliness, and solitude – a time to communicated within oneself, rather that without. In the dictionary of flowers, every shade of human emotion and instinct has been given a corollary floral symbol.

Hemp

Hemp

Hemp or Cannabis sativa is a plant, classified by some as belonging to the mulberry family than its floral parts, nevertheless, even the flower has a unique history and legend associated with it. The flower hemp is associated with fate-the ups and downs of destiny. Hopeful brides to try and discover the identity of their future husbands used Hempseed.

If a maiden walked through her garden at midnight on midsummer’s Eve, practising the ritual of sowing hempseed in the soil, while reciting the charm – ‘Hemp-seed I sow, Hemp-seed I hoe, and he that is my true-love come after me and mow’, she would see the ghostly image of her lover following behind her, if she looked over her shoulder. Thus, according to such legends and belief, hemp helps to unravel the mysteries of life, provides the key to unlock the door of our destiny.

Hemp is the common name for a tall annual herb (Cannabis sativa) of the family Cannabinaceae, native to Asia, especially cultivated in ancient China, and introduced into the European continent even before the Christian era. The fibre of the hemp stem was used in making paper, canvas cloth, and other products. The male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. The chemical derived from the female flowering tops is used medicinally and is the source of marijuana and hashish. The dried leaves are used in Asia for a beverage.

The true hemp plant is related to the hop, which is used in making beer. Hemp is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, of the order Urticales, and family Cannabinaceae.

Houseleek

Houseleek

A lot of effort, energy and patience is needed to nurture and grow beautiful plant and flowers in one’s garden. In fact, gardening is an absolute passion, even obsession for some individuals. There are some cultivators who shy away from the common varieties of flowers, and often their choice though unusual shows their gardening expertise. Semporvivum tectorum or simply.

Houseleek requires sharply drained soil, which is light, and gritty, full sun and constant care. These evergreen succulent perennials have spreading rosettes of fleshy leaves. ‘Limelight’ is a variety – a sharp acid green form with red-tipped leaves. The stems of pink starry flowers are produced in summer. The species with small rosettes, which don’t spread fast, are particularly suitable for growing in containers, like Sempervivum arachnoideum with hairs like cobwebs. Houseleek, due to the immense labour and care put into its nurturing, is always associated with domestic industry – even a vivacious nature.

The leek is dedicated to St. David, the patron saint of Wales- and especially honoured as an offering on the holy day of the saint – that is, the 1st of March every year. It is the national emblem of Wales. Interestingly, the legend behind this leek as the national emblem is that any soldier wearing it upon his person receives divine protection from injury in the battlefield.

Hyacinth

Hyacinth

Hyacinth is any plant of the genus Hyacinthus, bulbous herbs of the family Liliaceae, native to the Mediterranean region and South Africa. The common hyacinth or the Dutch hyacinth has a single dense spike of fragrant flowers in shades of red, blue, white, or yellow. Another variety of the common hyacinth smaller blue or white flowered Roman hyacinth.

Hyacinths are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, and order Liliales, family Liliaceae.

Some flowers have interesting mythological sources of nomenclature. Hyacinth is a bulbous plant (‘Hyacinthus’) derived from the name of a beautiful Spartan youth, accidentally killed by Apollo, the sun god, while playing quoits; from his blood, sprang the beautiful flower- hyacinth. Whilst this flower is found in an assortment of hues, from the tragic tale of its name, the purple hyacinth stands as a symbol of sorrow, a request for forgiveness. According to another legend, the wind god Zephyr, out of jealousy, blew the discus to kill Hyacinth. From his blood sprang a flower, which was named for him.

‘Cape hyacinth’, a species of Galtania, with white flowers indicate in its own way, “I’ll pray for you“. The wild hyacinth (also called the English blue-bell) and the grape hyacinth are other varieties of the same family. While scientifically hyacinth is now considered a potential area of food research, the red or pink hyacinth in flower-language indicates play, games, and sports. In fact, the yellow leaves symbolise jealousy and the blue hyacinth represents constancy. In language, the term ‘hyacinthine’ is derived from the flower-source, meaning anything as lovely as Hyacinthus or of a colour variously understood as purple, purple-blue, even golden.

Glossary of Flowers: G

Gladiolus

The name gladiolus comes from the latin word “gladius” meaning “sword”, for the shape of its leaves. The Gladiolus flower represents the roman gladiators and symbolize strength of character.

The genus Gladiolus belongs to the family Iridaceae and are native to the mountains of South America. They are also widely grown in the U.S. and Europe.

Gladiolus are easy to grow and make beautiful floral arrangements as well as beautiful displays in the garden.

There are over 180 known species of the gladiolus today, but only a few of them are found in most gardens. They produce swordlike leaves and spikes of funnel-shaped flowers. Most species are native to South Africa, but many new varieties and hybrids have been developed. Gladiolus species are propagated primarily from corms ,where flowers open first from the base of the spike with the older flowers dying as new ones develop and open.

The gladiolus is a romantic flower and signifies remembrance. It also expresses infatuation, telling the receiver that he or she “pierces the heart.” At one time, the roots of the gladiolus plant were thought to be an aphrodisiac.

Geranium

Geranium

The word ‘geranium’ is etymologically derived from the Greek source ‘geranion’ or ‘geranos’, which means a ‘crane’.

It is the common name for some members of the Geraniaceae, a family of herbs and small shrubs of temperate and subtropical regions.

These evergreen perennials are often used as bedding plants by garden-lovers. These bush like shrubs have wonderful marbled leaves, often sprinkled with darker zones. These plants are in the peak season of flowering from summer to autumn. Florists’ geraniums are hybrid varieties of the S African genus Pelargonium in which the “petals” are actually highly modified stamens. Geraniums are cultivated not only as ornamentals but for the aromatic oils extracted from their foliage and flowers for use in flavourings and perfumes.

The flowers can be found in single or double blooms, in an amazing variety of colours, like white, salmon, red, pink and even purple. The colours are not uniform, but variegated; the petals are often veined or blotched. In fact, the different hues are suggestive of different subtle emotions.

While ‘geraniums’ usually convey a sense of gentility and the sign of a peaceful mind, the silver-leafed geranium is a call back to the past, a reminder of forgotten things. The scarlet shade is sign of comfort, a gesture of consolation. The oak geranium expresses true friendship. Not only the different shades, but also the variety of shapes and sizes matter too, in this discreet way of sounding emotions. These flowers are indispensable for a true garden-loving individual!

Geraniums are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida, and order Geraniales.

Grapevine

Grapevine

For Bacchic-pleasure seekers, the sight of a grape vine is tantamount to finding Elysium on earth! Yes, grapevine undoubtedly symbolizes intoxication. Scientifically, the vine, from which the intoxicating drink of wine originates, belongs to the Vitis family.

In fact, all literature-especially originates from the celebration of Bacchus, the wine god and this ritual of song and dance was inevitably incomplete without wine and tender entanglement of grapevines.

Grass

Grass

Modern life zips by so fast that sometimes man remains unaware of the beauties of Nature all around us. The blue expanse of the sky’s canopy over our heads, the dewy grass under our naked feet in the wee hours of morning-have a soothing effect upon our tired mind and body after the hectic schedules, of our modern lives. Yes, the green gsrass has inspired artists to shower praise upon this simple article of nature.

Grass, which always finds a place at our feet, is a symbol of humble submission. Thus, after a massive domestic fight, the husbands’ simple gift of a blade of grass would be an indication of his surrender, his acknowledgement of defeat in the combat of love. Grass of the ‘Gramen’ family implies utility; in fact green grass is useful in various ways. This plant of the monocotyledonous family Gramineae is most important to man in the vegetable kingdom with long narrow leaves and tubular stems. In fact, wheat, and other cereals, reeds (but not sedges), bamboo, sugar-can, pasture-grasses-all can be categorized under the wide umbrella of grass.

Quzzing grass, scientifically known as Briza media shows pivolity on the part of the person receiving it a simple single blade of grass can be pregnant with so many hidden expressions. In slang, grass however has another connotation-it implies the drugs – ‘marijuana’, while in the espionage diction, ‘grass’ is a secret informer for the authorities.

Glossary of Flowers: F

Forget me not

True love’s difficult to find, but if you are fortunate enough to have found it, be sure to give your beloved a ‘forget-me-not’ flower. This flower, scientifically termed, Mycostis sylvatica, from the ‘Boraginaceae’ botanical family, is regarded as an emblem of loving remembrance, faithful love, constancy and undying hope.

This blue flower, though quite small in size, expresses sweet memories of true and faithful love, a soft cry – ‘Do not forget’ the sunny and cloudy days of a deep relationship.

Medicinally, this plant has a strong affinity for the respiratory organs, especially the left lower lung. In some countries, it is sometimes made into syrup and given for pulmonary affections. There is a tradition that a decoction or juice of the plant hardens steel.

Glossary of Flowers: E

Evening Primrose

From snowdrops to sun drops, Nature has endless diversity. Sun drops or the American evening primrose represents devotion. The evening primrose is not a true primrose. This variety of the primrose is common in spring in woods and meadows. The evening primrose, common name for the Onagraceae, a family of plants of worldwide distribution, is a pale-yellow conventionalised flower, sometimes four petalled.

The ‘primrose peerless’ is the two-flowered daffodil. The gift of an evening primrose is a mark of inconstancy and the irresolute attitude of early youth.

Evening primroses are yellow, evening-flowering annuals or biennials. The evening primrose family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, belonging to the class Magnoliopsida, and the order Myrtales.

Everlasting

Everlasting

Modern life runs on the fast tracks of commercialism. Whatever is invented today is discarded for a better tomorrow! How would you like a memento of love with you always? In this fickle life of constant change, the beautiful ‘everlasting pea’ stands out prominently. As its name suggests, it sustains its fresh, unfading appearance for years.

A symbol of eternity, a taken of perpetual remembrance, this flower is scientifically the Lathyrus latifolius. A slightly ramshackled inhabitant but a beautiful herbaceous climber, this plant is endowed with glaucous leaves and magenta (sometimes, even pure white) flowers from summer to early autumn. Climbing slowly, inching up gradually with the help of several leaf tendrils, the ‘everlasting pea’ boasts of wonderful lush blue-green foliage. The very appearance of this pretty flower has a smoothing relaxing effect, even in the middle of the fret and fever of modern life. And at the time of departure, this flower is a sweet way of saying, ‘Thank you for a lovely time!’.

Glossary of Flowers: D

Daffodil

The official botanical name of the daffodil is Narcissus. Daffodil is accepted as a common name for all members of the Narcissus genus. Jonquil is a “species name” within the Narcissus genus that has multiple smaller flowers on each stem.

The name narcissus is derived from the Greek myth about Narcissus, the handsome youth who was granted his good looks by the Gods. His beauty was permanent and he was immortal, as long as he never viewed his own reflection.

One day, when Narcissus was hunting in the woods, a nubile wood nymph named Echo saw him and fell in love, but Narcissus rejected her. Echo was so devastated by his rejection that she hid in cave and died. The goddess, Nemesis, heard about poor Echo, and lured Narcissus to a shimmering lake. There in his vain state, he was unable to resist gazing at his own reflection, and fell in love with himself! As he gazed, the divine penalty took effect, and he simply faded away. In his place sprang up the golden flower that bears his name today.

All daffodils have a central trumpet-shaped corona surrounded by a ring of petals. The traditional daffodil has a golden yellow colour all over, but the corona may often feature a contrasting colour. Breeders have developed some daffodils with a double or triple row of petals, making them resemble a small golden ball. Other cultivars have frilled petals, or an elongated or compressed central corona.

Daffodils are grown around the world, from their native habitats in Spain, Portugal, France and Morocco, across the Mediterranean into Greece, to gardens in Alaska and Australia.

Daffodils are grown from bulbs and are one of the most popular spring-blooming flowers

Poets often write about daffodils and William Wordsworth, the legendary British poet wrote of the flowers in his classic poem, “Daffodils”, published in 1804. This is the poem that so artfully describes the poet viewing “ten thousand” daffodils beside a lake, and is also the source of the phrase, “Dancing with Daffodils.”

Dahlia

Dahlia

Dahlia, in botanical terms, is a Mexican genus of perennial garden composites with large brightly coloured flowers and tuberous roots. The name of this flower or plant originates from the name of the Swedish botanist Andreas Daul (1751-89). The flower, available in an assorted range of colours is a gardener’s favourite, and is popularly attached with notions of dignity, elegance and good taste.

Daisy

Daisy

The daisy, though a very common star-shaped flower, has inspired many a poetic verse. The wild Daisy- Bellis perennis is a special way of asking,“Do you love me?” formerly, this form of daisy was believe to have curative powers and was called ‘Bruisewort’. According to some critics, the generic name is derived from the Latin bellus that is, pretty and charming, though others say its name is from a dryad named Belidis.

The common name is a derivation of the old English name ‘day’s-eye’ and is applied by Chaucer in that sense:

‘Well by reason men it call maie
The Daisie, or else the Eye of the Daie.’

The term ‘daisy’ is a general term of admiration, often ironically used. “Fresh as a daisy” shows brilliance and vitality. There is a common proverb associated with the flower and its abundance in spring and early summer: ‘When you can put your foot on seven daisies summer is come’.

Daisy stands for romance, a loyal love as well as gentleness, innocence and purity. A single daisy (Bellis simplex) suggests innocence, while the double daisy (Bellis hortensis) shows affection.

Dandelion

Dandelion

In the wide expanse of different hues and shades in the flower world, a dandelion uniquely stands out due to its unusual name. ‘Dandelion’ is the English form of the French term, which means a lion’s tooth. A plant of the genus Taraxacum of the family Asteraceae, perennial herbs of wide distribution in temperate regions, the dandelion has a rosette of deep-toothed leaves (the name is usually ascribed to this) and a bright yellow flower followed in fruit by a round head of white down, an adaptation for wind distribution of the seed like fruits.

Formerly this blossom expressed the virtuous idea of loyalty and faithfulness. However, in the Victorian period, when flowers were prescribed new meanings, the dandelion stood for love’s oracle and even coquetry. In dream interpretation, this was extended more, such that a dream of this flower was taken to be a sign of misfortune, presence of enemies and deceit on the part of loved ones. The Russian dandelion (T. koksaghyz) has been cultivated for the milky juice typical of the genus, as a source of rubber. Dandelions are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida, and order Asterales.

Glossary of Flowers: C

Cactus

A plant of the family Cactaceae, a large group of succulents found in almost all countries. A cactus plant is striking for its fleshy green stem, which performs the functions of leaves (commonly insignificant or absent). Cactus flowers are notably delicate in appearance although usually large and showy they are commonly yellow, white, or shades of red and purple. Interestingly, bats pollinate many species. Cactus fruits are berries and are usually edible.

The abridged leaf surface, the enlarged fleshy stem, which is made specially to store water and retain it make the plant particularly adapted to regions of high temperature and long dry periods. Cactus is symbolical of great endurance.

Most cacti come into bud in the spring for a very short period. The blossoms are very sensitive to light, and often some species blossom only at specific times of the day.

One of the most famous of the cacti is the night-blooming cereus usually classified as Selenicereus or C. grandiflora. Its scented blossoms unfurl at a visible rate after sunset and last only a single night. In many of its native habitats the flowering of this cactus is celebrated with festivals. The appearance of cactus in some traditions signifies grandeur and warmth.

Camellia

Camellia

The ‘Camellia’ says, “You’re a flame in my heart”. However, in strict scientific language, the flower got its name from the 17th century botanist Joseph Kamel (Latinised ‘Camellus’), who was a Moravian Jesuit who collected plants in the Philippines Island. The red camellia does symbolise excellence. A bellflower shows constancy and gratitude. In fact; it expresses a wish to say something special.

The bellflower family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida and order Campanulales.

The bluebell is the common name to many plants including the bellflower, the Virginia cowslip and the wood hyacinth. A bluebell shows humility and even a sorrowful regret.

Bluebell of the Boraginaceae family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, and order Lamiales, while those of the Liliaceae family are in the same division but in the class Liliatae, order Liliopsida.

Carnations

Carnation

Dianthus Caryophylhus stands for devoted love and fascination, especially a woman’s love. The lovely ‘carnation’ is perhaps derived from a misreading of an Arabic word, or the Latin- ‘carnatio’ (-onis means fleshiness) since carnations range in colour from light pink to deep crimson.

The red variety says “My heart aches for you” and talks of a deep admiration while the pink carnation says, “I’ll never forget you”. A white carnation is believed to symbolize sweet, lovely innocence, a kind of woman’s good luck gift; while the purple shade shows capriciousness.

Sending carnations is a special way of sending a significant message to one’s beloved.

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom

The cherry tree has inspired many a poet to sing about its worth and beauty. The cherry tree is a majestic symbol of education. Cherry is the name for several species of trees or shrubs of the genus Prunus of the family Rosaceae. The small, round red to black fruits are botanically designated drupes, or stone fruits, as are those of the closely related peach, apricot, and plum.

The cherry is one of the most commonly grown home-orchard fruits. Though a small stone fruit, the cherry often evokes artistic comparisons due to its bright ruddy hue. In fact, the cherry stands for virginity. The cherry blossom is a symbol of spiritual beauty.

Several species of the flowering cherry, many native to East Asia, are cultivated as weeping or erect trees for their beautiful, usually double flowers.

Interestingly, the cherry blossom has evoked a festival in honour of this flower .The Japanese make a national festival of cherry-blossom time. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, held annually in Washington DC, celebrates the delicate beauty of cherry tree blossoms. The three thousand cherry trees were a gift from the city of Tokyo in 1912.

Cherries are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida, and order Rosales.

Clover

Clover

Happy dreams show a joyous frame of mind. To dream of clovers, is particularly auspicious since it indicates good health, prosperity and future happiness.

A clover is any plant of the genus Trifolium, leguminous hay and forage plants of the family Leguminosae. The Greeks in garlands and other decorations used clover. The druids held it a blessed flower.

It is said to have been the early emblem of Ireland from which the shamrock is derived, and it is an emblem of the Trinity. English and American poets have celebrated it. A four-leaved clover is thought to bring good luck.

The white clover or Trifolium repens is common in pastures and meadows while the red clover called Trifolium pratense is grown for forage. The white blooms express the yearning: ‘think of me’. In fact, the four-leaved clover is not only a sign of good luck, it also is a soft way of saying: ‘be mine’.

Clover is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida and order Rosales.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum is the name for a large number of annual or perennial herbs of the genus Chrysanthemum of the family Asteraceae, to which belong the corn marigold and the ox-eye daisy.

Interestingly, Japan is considered as the ‘Land of Chrysanthemum’.

The chrysanthemum is the floral emblem of the imperial family of Japan. In fact, the highest officials are honoured by orders of the chrysanthemum. The flower heads are mostly late blooming and of various shades of red, yellow, and white; they range from single daisy like to large rounded or shaggy heads.

It is supposed that Chrysanthemums were introduced to England in the late 18th century, and today innumerable named horticultural types exist.

Chrysanthemums rank with roses in commercial importance as cut flowers and pot and garden plants.

Chrysanthemum has bright colourful double flower heads, suggesting love. The gift of a red chrysanthemum is the token of love, while the yellow chrysanthemum implies slighted love. In fact, the chrysanthemum represents wealth and abundance, and says “You are a wonderful friend”.

Chrysanthemum is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, and order Asterales, family Asteraceae.

Columbine

Columbine

In the religion and mythology of every ancient nation, the garden, fragrant with the varied sights and smells of beautiful flowers, is portrayed as the natural habitat of gods. Often sacred meaning is endowed upon certain flowers. Prominent among these is the columbine.

The columbine (A. vulgaris) is a plant of the Ranunculaceous genus Aquilegia, with coloured sepals and spurred petals, giving the appearance of a bunch of pigeons. The generic name of Aquilegia is derived from the Latin aquila (an eagle), the spurs of the flowers being considered to resemble an eagle’s talons. Formerly the columbine was known as Culverwort, the Saxon word culfre meaning a pigeon.

In fact, literally, ‘columbine’ is derived from the Latin word columba which means ‘like a dove’ or ‘dove-coloured’, though in the secret language of flowers, the ‘columbine’ often represents folly, from the mythological perspective, its petals symbolize the seven gifts of the spirit. The wild columbine has only five petals, however, early artists, with their fervent imagination and devotion to the religious symbolism, retained the meaning by painting seven flowers on one stalk. The leaves are dark and bluish green on the upper surface and greyish beneath. The Columbine may be distinguished from all other flowers, by having each of its five petals terminated in an incurved, hornlike spur. The petals are tubular and dilated at the other extremity. Interestingly, the flowers are perfumed like hay.

The flower is referred to in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and in one of Ben Jonson’s poems:

‘Bring cornflag, tulip and Adonis flower, Fair Oxeye, goldylocks and columbine.’

The ‘columbine’ holds yet another significance- in pantomime, a ‘columbine’ refers to the sweetheart of Harlequin. The term ‘columbine’ is derived from its Latin source – ‘columba’ which means ‘ a dove’. In fact, closely related to the religious connotation of the flower ‘columbine’, the term ‘columbarium’ (derived from it) signifies a ‘dovecot’ or a ‘niche for a sepulchral urn’. Thus, the natural and beauty of the flower is enriched by the multi-layered significance attached to it.

Crocus

Crocus

For years, flowers have been used to convey secret messages of love and affection. In the past, the selection of flowers was limited, and people used them more as symbols and gestures, preferring this pretty discreet way of speaking sentiments, to loud verbal communication.

Simply speaking, from the scientific point of view, the crocus is a bulbous iridaceous plant with brilliant yellow, purple or white flower. These blooms are cultivated for their showy, solitary flowers, which are among the first to bloom in the spring. The true crocus blossoms are of a yellowish or saffron shade.

However, a lesser-known fact about this beautiful flower is that it is dedicated to the special day for lovers. Yes, the Crocus is dedicated to St. Valentine, the Christian martyr after whom Valentine’s Day was named. While the exact origins of this day are lost, many believe that the 14th of February was selected for the celebration of Christian martyrs to disrupt celebrations of Lupercalia-a Roman fertility festival. No wonder, the crocus flower is always associated with youthful joy and merriment.

There is a similar flower called autumn crocus, a perennial garden ornamental (Colchicum autumnale) of the family Liliaceae. The purplish flowers, which bloom in the fall when the leaves are gone, resemble those of the true crocus but have six stamens instead of three. The meadow saffron or the autumn crocus is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Liliopsida, and order Liliales.

Crown Imperial

Crown Imperial

While the glittering diadem on the royal head has inspired much awe and wonder, among the multihued wonders of the floral world, the plant ‘crown imperial’ stands at the helm of its species.

An Iranian plant, Fritillaria imperialis, of the lily family, the crown imperial is an imposing blossom, due to its foxy scent. The orange-red or yellow flower bells with a mysterious ring of dark spots, topped with a leaf rosette, are borne upon stout stems with light green leaves. This flower, in accordance with its royal nomenclature, needs extreme care with regard to soil and temperature, as it needs well-drained fertile soil. The bulbs may rot in wet conditions, thus the plant is sometimes tilted to the side to ensure proper blossoming. This blossom is normally grown as an ornamental.

Dedicated to St. Edward, and celebrated on the saint’s holy day of the 18th of March, the ‘crown imperial’ is a perfect emblem of majesty and pride of birth.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

The most difficult thing to do is to say ‘goodbye’. Parting and separation are an integral part of life, yet, how often we cower away from the thought of saying goodbye to someone we love! At times such as these, offering a cyclamen often shows greater sentiment, a more valuable emotion than bombastic words of farewell.

The ‘cyclamen’ is a South- European genus of Primulaceae with several nodding flowers and bent-back petals. Traditionally, the gift of a cyclamen meant the end of a relationship and a final ‘goodbye’.

Cypress Tree

Cypress Tree

Cypress is the common name for members of the Cupressaceae, a widely distributed family of coniferous shrubs and trees, several yielding valuable timber.
Botanically speaking, the cypress is a narrow conifer, which creates a spire of densely packed evergreen, rich, deep blue-green foliage. The cypress of classical literature is the European C. sempervirens or Italian cypress. It has since early times been symbolic of mourning and, more recently, of immortality. The gates of St. Peter’s at Rome, which stood for 1,100 years, were made of its wood. The funereal, or mourning, cypress (C. funebris) of China, with “weeping” branches, is a popular ornamental elsewhere. American trees of the genus Chamaecyparis of the same family are also called cypresses.

The cypress branches were carried at funerals; hence, the cypress flower is associated with death, melancholy and mourning.

Thus, flowers not only show love and longing, flowers such as cypress indicate respect and dignity for the departed souls of our near and dear ones. The true cypress family is classified in the division Pinophyta, of the class Pinopsida, order Coniferales.

Glossary of Flowers: B

Basil

In India, the holy Basil is a hallowed plant, dedicated to both Krishna and Vishnu, and is cherished in every Hindu house. Probably because of its virtues, in disinfecting, and vivifying malarious air, it first became inseparable from Hindu houses in India as the protecting spirit of the family. The strong aromatic scent of the leaves is very much like cloves.

Every good Hindu goes to his rest with a Basil leaf on his breast. It is thought this facilitates his entrance into the portals of Paradise. Basil is any plant of the genus Ocimum, tender herbs or small shrubs of the family Labiatae cultivated for the aromatic leaves. The basil of Keats’s “Isabella” (and of Boccaccio’s story) is the common or sweet basil (O. basilicum).

Common or Sweet Basil is utilized in medicine and is a significant ingredient for culinary purposes, especially in France. It is a hairy, labiate plant with white flowers in whorls in the axils of the leaves, the calyx with the upper lobe rounded and spreading. The leaves, greyish-green beneath and dotted with dark oil cells, are peculiarly smooth and cool to the touch, and if slightly bruised exhale a lovely scent of cloves. The name of basil is probably derived from the Greek term ‘basileus’ which means ‘a king’. There are legends connected with basil. One theory relates it to the ‘basilisk’, the fabled creature which could kill with a look.an old superstition is linked with common basil. It is a popular belief that if the basil leaf is gently handled it emits a pleasant smell, however if bruised, it would breed scorpions. This is possibly because scorpions rest under these pots and vessels wherein Basil is planted.

There are several forms of basil differing in the size, shape, odour and colour of the leaves. In the Victorian context of flower interpretation however, basil signifies hatred.

Basil is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida, and order Lamiales.

Bluebells

Bluebells

The bellflower or the bluebell is the name commonly used as a all-inclusive term for members of the Campanulaceae, a family of chiefly herbaceous annuals or perennials of wide distribution, characteristically located on dry slopes in temperate and subtropical areas. Bellflowers are the delicate, bell-shaped blossoms and the name of bluebells signifies the prevailing colour of the flowers).

A bellflower shows constancy and gratitude. In fact; it expresses a wish to say something special.

The bellflower family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida and order Campanulales. The bluebell is the common name to many plants including the bellflower, the Virginia cowslip and the wood hyacinth. A bluebell shows humility and even a sorrowful regret.

Bluebell of the Boraginaceae family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, and order Lamiales, while those of the Liliaceae family are in the same division but in the class Liliatae, order Liliopsida.

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

Bittersweet is the name attributed to two unrelated plants, belonging to different families, both fall-fruiting woody vines sometimes cultivated for their decorative scarlet berries. One, called also woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) belonging to the family Solanaceae.

The twigs and stems are occasionally used medicinally for a narcotic poison similar to belladonna.

The more popular bittersweet however is Celastrus scandens, a plant of the family Celastraceae. An orange-yellow capsule surrounds its berry.

In the Victorian society the present of a bittersweet indicated a platonic affection and love in some situations, it represented truth as well.

Both bittersweets are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida. S. dulcamara belongs to the order Polemoniales, family Solanaceae. C. scandens belongs to the order Celastrales, family Celastraceae.

Buttercup

Buttercup

Often used as a term of fond endearment, ‘buttercup’ is a beautiful golden yellow cup shaped flower. Also called a crowfoot, this species of flower belongs to the Rannuculus family. A marsh crowfoot, Rannuculus sceleratus, indicates ingratitude- a subtle way to remind a person of his/her ungrateful behaviour. Another variation of this crowfoot is the meadowur crowfoot, also of the same genus.

The meadow crowfoot, Ranunculus aeris, is a statement of unfaithful behaviour, reflecting upon an unfaithful lover or friend. However, in the exotic language of flower-symbolism, a ‘buttercup’ shows childishness. So, next time, you wish to chide someone for a childish act, just present her/him a bouquet of ‘buttercups’! It is a gentle and affectionate way of reprimanding a loved one.

Glossary of Flowers: A

Acacia

Chiefly belonging to the tropical and sub-tropical belts of the world, acacia is cultivated for ornamental and economic purposes. Acacia is a plant of the large leguminous genus Acacia, often-thorny shrubs and trees of the family Leguminosae. The name ‘acacia’ was originally used for a thorny Egyptian tree. Botanically, Acacia is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.

Acacia is looked upon as a emblem of true friendship. Apart from the emotional connotations of this symbol, it is significant due to its varied and special uses. Various Old World species provide gum arabic , especially A. arabica and A. senegal. Acacia is also famous for its lac, for being the natural source of perfume and essential oils, even tannins, while some species are used to decorate our living surroundings.

here are about 750 species of acacia found all over Australia, where it is commonly called wattles. The use of this name in Australia appears to have originated with the first British settlers who constructed ‘wattle and daub’ buildings using the pliable branches of the black wattle. Australia’s national floral emblem is the golden wattle, Acacia pycnantha. In fact, Wattle Day is celebrated on the 1st. of September to commemorate this national flower at its blossoming time.

Wattles are a conspicuous component of the landscape, particularly in springtime when the whole countryside may be aglow with their hues of yellow blossom. Interestingly, significant meanings are attached to the yellow acacia. It is supposed to be a symbol of secret love. Acacia has a feathery foliage with many leaflets, though in some forms, the chlorophyll- containing leaf like flattened stems act in the stead of leaves. The flower heads vary in colour from purplish shade to pale yellow and gold. There is another variety – the Rose acacia, of a pristine white hue, which bespeaks elegance and dignity.

Acacia has religious connotations too. In the Bible, the wood of the shittam tree is thought to be an acacia from which the Ark of the Covenant and furniture of the Tabernacle were made. The Revised Version of the Bible calls it acacia wood. In the Hebraic version, this is quite evident.

“They shall make an Ark of shittam wood…You shall cover it with pure gold…and you shall make on it a gold crown all around.”

Almond

Almond

The flowering almond has always stood as a symbol of hope. The hope, in dreams of a happier hour that alights upon misery’s brow Springs out of a silvery almond flower That blooms on a leafless bough.

The almond was introduced into England, probably by the Romans, but was not cultivated in England before 1562.

The tree has always been a favourite, and in Shakespeare’s time almond trees were abundant in the orchards. In literature, references can be found aplenty especially in the Elizabethan times. Spenser alludes to it in the Fairy Queen:

“Like to an Almond tree ymounted hye,
On top of greene Selinis all alone,
With blossoms brave bedecked daintly;
Whose tender locks do tremble every one
At everie little breath that under Heaven is blowne.”

Shakespeare mentions it in Troilus and Cressida:

“The parrot will not do more for an Almond”.

“An Almond for a parrot” was an old simile in the Shakespearean times for the height of temptation.

Almond appears in early English texts seems as Almande as in the Romaunt of the Rose. Etymologically this form is adapted from the French amande, derived from the late Latin amandela, which is in turn a form of the Greek amygdalus.

The almond has biblical references. It occurs in the Scripture as one of the best fruit trees of the land of Canaan. The beauty of the almond blossom and fruit has given rise to sacred motifs. The Hebrew name for almond is shakad, which means ‘hasty awakening,’ beseeming the unique nature of this tree, whose exotic flowers appearing in Palestine in January, is supposed have initiated the process of Creation. In the Jewish harvest festival, the Feast of Tabernacles the fruit of almond was enshrined for the decoration of the golden candlestick employed in the tabernacle. The rod of Aaron was an Almond twig. Even in the modern festivities, the Jews still carry rods of Almond blossom to the synagogues.

The classical mythology mentions almond. Servius relates the Greek fable where Phyllis being deserted by her lover Demaphoon sadly pined away to death and as an eternal compensation for her abandonment was transformed into a almond tree. It was too late when Demophoon finally returned, and when he saw the leafless, flowerless and forlorn tree, overcome with remorse he embraced it in his arms, whereupon it burst forth into happy bloom thereby becoming an emblem of true love inextinguishable by death. This is probably the reason why the almond blossom is always taken to be the eternal symbol of hope as the poet says: ‘ Hope springs eternal in the human breast; man never is, but always to be blest.’ (Alexander Pope)

Interestingly, almond has other attributes as well. It is believed to be an excellent remedy for intoxication and bitter almonds are eaten during meal times often to mitigate the effects of liquor consumed at this time. The ‘nuts’ of almond are used to extract oil, which is an important ingredient in the flavoring of soaps and cosmetics. Medicinally it is used as a demulcent. The flowering almonds are pinkish sometimes-white varieties native to central Asia.

The common almond indicates indiscretion and often stupidity. Almond of the laurel variety is used to suggest perfidious behavior. In dream language, to dream of almonds suggests a journey. If the almonds are sweet ones, then the journey is slated to be a prosperous one. However to dream of bitter almonds suggests just the opposite that is the journey would be ill starred.

Scientifically, the Almond belongs to the same group of plants, as the rose, plum, cherry and peach, being a member of the tribe Prunae, and is especially well known for its nut like edible seed of its drupe fruit. Almonds are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, and Family Rosaceae.

Amaranthus

Amaranthus

For a flower whose name from its Greek source means ‘unfading’ its little wonder that the blossom is always associated with everlasting love. Amaranth is the common name for the Amaranthaceae, also known as the pigweed family. A lasting red pigment in the stems and leaves characterizes the amaranth plant. In ancient Greece, the Amaranth was the symbol of immortality and was sacred to Ephesian Artemis. Commonly believed to have special healing properties it was used to decorate images of the gods and tombs.

Amaranthus hypochondriacus, known as Prince’s Feather, is an Indian annual with deeply-veined, lance-shaped leaves, with bicoloured flowers of purple and crimson shades, densely packed on erect spikes, while A. caudatus (Love-lies-bleeding) is a native of Africa and Java, a vigorous hardy annual with dark purplish flowers crowded in handsome drooping spikes with astringent qualities often used in cases of haemorrhages A. spinosa and A. campestris are forms of amaranth used in India as diuretics. A. oleraceus (Linn.) is used in India in cases of diarrhoea and menstrual disorders and the young leaves and shoots are also eaten as a vegetable. A. polygonoides, a common garden weed in India, is also used as a pot-herb and considered so wholesome that convalescents are ordered it in preference to all other kinds.

The globe amaranth is sometimes called bachelor’s button while the cockscomb (Celosia) is associated with foppery and affectation. Both are originally tropical annuals. They can be preserved dry and are used in everlasting bouquets. Amaranth is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, and order Caryphyllales.

Anemone

Anemone

The Anemone is a perennial herb of the genus Anemone of the family Ranunculaceae or the buttercup family. Two species of anemone are popular: the dainty little Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa) and the Pasque Flower (A. pulsatilla), both possessing medicinal properties.

The genus, Anemone of the family Ranunculacea derives its name from the Greek word ‘anemos’ which means ‘wind’. While anemone includes about 65 species, there are varieties such as corms, rhizomes, while others are just ordinary perennial plants. The Japanese anemone is the only form of this blossom, which flowers during the autumnal time. Scientifically, Anemone hupehensis, of the buttercup family or the Japanese anemone is an eastern Asian plant with purple or reddish blooms. Another form of this anemone is the poppy anemone, a southern European plant, Anemone coronaria, of the buttercup family, with solitary, poppy like, red, blue, or white flowers, grown as an ornamental.

The anemone is conspicuous in the floral arena due to the presence of three entire leaflets arranged in a whorl just under the flowers, forming an involucre. In fact, the flowers themselves have no real petals, but a calyx of six to eight petal-like sepals. A species of this anemone family has been used to poison arrows against unsuspecting enemies.

A rich legendary history is associated with anemone .It is said that the anemone originated from the blood of Adonis, and even the Romans considered it valuable in preventing fever. Often anemone is applied to bruises and freckles. In Chinese symbolism, the anemone is equated with death.

In Pliny’s statement that anemone blossoms are opened by the wind. Anemones contain an acrid compound called anemonin. It is poisonous but was formerly used medicinally. Best known of the wild kinds is the white- or purplish-flowered wood anemone (A. quinquefolia), sometimes known specifically as windflower, and the greenish-white-flowered tall anemone, or thimbleweed (A. virginiana), with thimble-shaped fruit. Anemones are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, and order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.

Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom

Since time immemorial, the apple has stood as the timeless, unchanging symbol of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, incited by Eve, which Adam partook of and consequently, landed into the earthly realm of sin, corruption and mortality. The Apple- blossom in accordance to this Biblical story therefore contains the sense of a promise a temptation, discreet and alluring a promise, which entices, tantalizes and then may be, finally disappoints.

However, the flower seeps this subtle essence of a hidden lure and expectation.

Traditionally an apple, decorated with cloves, rosemary and holly, is the ideal gift to present on New Year’s Day since it heralds good luck and fortune. In fact, if a person dreams of an apple or an apple-blossom, it prophesies a long life, great success in trade commerce or professional career, and most importantly, a steadfast faithfulness and presence of one’s lover throughout the ups and downs of life. As in former times, dreams were listed either as warnings and omens portending to evil designs and imminent dangers, as also good dreams pointed towards some divine message and success unfolding in one’s life. Apple- blossoms sure promise such heady great stuff ahead in one’s life!

Aster

Aster

Any beautiful garden is incomplete without these hardy perennial as bedding or pot plants. Aster, derived from the Greek term meaning ‘star’, is the common name for the Asteraceae (Compositae), the aster family. They have small, daisy like or star like flower heads on leafy, often tall, stems.

Available in exotic varieties of white, yellow, pink, violet, indigo and even bi-colours, these plants flourish best in late summer till the onset of autumn and hence, this flower, is often termed Michealmes daisies. Michealmas daisies express fond farewell.

The China aster is the common aster of florists and flower gardens. It is an Asian plant that in cultivation has a very full head of ray flowers, varying from white and pink to deep purple.

The ‘china aster’ or Callistephus chinensis is a symbol of love and contentment. A missionary brought ‘China aster’ from China to France in the 18th century.

Asters are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, of the class Magnoliopsida, and order Asterales.