Throughout the world exist hundreds of flowers ranging from the ancient orchid to the lovely bluebell. These majestic plants have entranced us with their beauty, charm, taste, and medicinal uses for centuries, worming their way into our hearts and stomachs. Where humanity might be without them is a question best left unanswered, as they have left a mark on our evolution that cannot be quantified. With so many kinds out there, it can be overwhelming to get started on a journey of discovery, so here is some help.
Continue to learn about the following:
- The lovely rose
- The passionate tulip
- Orchids and ice cream
- Lucky daffodils
- Fairy bluebells
- Playful buttercups
- The golden chrysanthemum
- The humble daisy
The Lovely Rose
Although most of us know the rose for its deep red petals, with over 300 species it has a wide range of colors such as orange, pink, and even black! It is a perennial flower, lasting close to 35 years in good conditions. The oil of the rose flower is commonly used in perfumes, and rose water is quite popular in cooking and cosmetics. The rose bears a fruit known as the rosehip, which is quite prized in medicine, especially for its vitamin c content.
The Passionate Tulip
Another perennial flower, the tulip, part of the lily family, is a large, colorful flower showcasing pink, yellow, red, and other colors. There are over 150 species of tulip, yet nearly 3000 varieties exist, with most only sprouting a single bud, and then only blooming for a week or so in spring. It is thought to have originated in Persia, being introduced to the west later. Tulips are thought to symbolize passion, belief and forgiveness, making them prized during the Easter holiday.
Orchids and Ice Cream
The orchid family is another ancient breed, stemming back close to 100 million years. Unlike some ancient flowering plants, the orchid can be pollinated by bees. In fact, the bee orchid has even evolved a bee-like appearance to lure male bees, cover them in pollen, and send them off to pollinate others. The orchid family has close to a whopping 30,000 species, making it one of the most proliferous species on the planet. All orchids live in symbiosis with fungi for most of their young lives as they do not contain endosperms to supply them with nutrients. Probably the most important fact of the orchid species is that vanilla, the ice cream lover’s dream, is derived from one of its flowers, the flat-leaved vanilla orchid, native to Mexico.
The narcissus, commonly known as the daffodil, is known to be comprised of about 50 species, flowering anywhere from six weeks to six months. It is more commonly known for its bright yellow petals but can be found in white and orange as well. The sap of the daffodil is quite poisonous, with other plants and even dogs being at risk of death if consumed in quantity. It is the national flower of Wales and is thought to symbolize wealth, luck, and vanity in the East and West.
With only 11 species, the bluebell is one of the smaller families in the world, with half growing in the U.K. The English bluebell has a distinctive droopy appearance, with vivid blue-violet colors, while the Spanish variety, an invasive species, has a paler countenance. Wild bluebells are a protected species and as of 1981, you can be heavily fined for digging up. They are poisonous, with scientists researching the chemical compounds they produce to fight cancer. For most of history, they have been called fairy flowers, with stories told of them being used to lure in and trap people, mostly children.
Nearly 2000 species grace the buttercup family, with most being found in colder regions. The flowers have a cup-like appearance with five petals and can range from 14 to 16 inches.
Most of the species are yellow, with white, pink and reds less common. It is quite easy to spot one due to its shiny petals which are used to attract pollinators. Most of the species are annual, with some biennials. They are highly poisonous to animals and humans if ingested. Symbolically they are associated with playfulness, and commonly used in children’s games.
The golden Chrysanthemum
Over 40 wild species of chrysanthemum exist, known as the golden flower. Its popularity around the world is only outmatched by the rose. They are perennial flowers, blooming in the early fall generally. Chrysanthemums are composites, with their flower heads being composed of individual flowers; this gives rise to a variety of shapes and sizes such as buttons, decorative flowers, and others. The flower produces a natural insect repellant called pyrenthrin. Symbolically, depending on color and culture, they can symbolize joy, happiness, or even grief and death.
The Humble Daisy
Found in most parts of the world, the humble daisy has over 4000 species. Very easy to spot with its large flower head, which is composed of many smaller flowers known as disk florets. Colors can range from white to yellow, even blue and green, many times mixed. It is a biennial plant and commonly used in cooking for its pleasant taste. It has been used for many centuries to relieve coughs. It is associated with purity and innocence, commonly used in Christianity to portray the Virgin Mary.
A Flower for Everyone
Regardless of your tastes, the world has a buffet of flowers you can find to suit your style and temperament. Whether you choose the ethereal beauty of the rose, or simply spruce up your desk with the humble daisy, every flower can brighten up your life, whether it is through their beauty, symbolism, medicinal properties or just simple tastiness, there is a flower for everyone, or perhaps more than one! It’s never too late to become a flower connoisseur.