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The dianthus flower is one of 300 species of flowering plants within the Caryophyllaceae family. It is native to parts of Europe, as well as Asia and even a few areas in the North and South of Africa. Curiously, a single species, the d.repens, can be found in the arctic of North America. It is commonly referred to as sweet william or carnation. There are a couple of annual varieties within the genus, but most are perennials. Five petals adorn the head of this lovely flower, with a frilled exterior and colors ranging from a paler pink to dark red. Many of the pink varieties are well known for having a much stronger aroma, somewhat spicy in smell. There are thousands of cultivated varieties in modern times, with many more colors having been bred, such as yellow and white adorning gardens the world over.
Flowering plants have come to be part of an entire language that denotes meaning and symbol to each. The dianthus flower is thought to symbolize boldness and courage. The pinks are associated with beauty and romance, whereas the less common white is connected to feelings of purity and innocence.
The nigella flower, or nigella Damascena, is an annual plant of the Ranunculaceae family, with around 18 species within its genus. It is typically found in the south of Europe, as well as parts of Asia and Africa. It can grow upwards of 90cm tall and has lovely flower petals ranging from white, yellow, to the more common pale blue and purple. It typically has five to 10 petals atop its stem, with large fruit capsules. It is sometimes called love-in-a-mist, although the more fiendish name devil-in-a-bush has been applied to it as well. There is an ancient story associated with its name, love-in-a-mist, which tells of a holy roman emperor by the name of Frederick I Barbarossa. In the tale, the emperor, while sailing upon the saleph river, was seduced by a water spirit, which led him into a shallow part of the river and crashed his ship. The delicate nigella flower bloomed upon the shoreline, thought to embody his spirit, which was now tied to the river.
Nigella in Culture
The nigella flower seeds are used quite often in a few cultures’ cuisine, such as India, Poland, and the Middle East. The nigella sativa strains seeds are a very popular spice, known as black cumin, or kalonji. In parts of India, the seeds are used for medicinal purposes. They are thought to help stimulate the bowel and aid in indigestion and reduce gas. When dried, they are sniffed to help with loss of sense of smell, and curiously to help repel insects in some instances.
The gorgeous pansy flower is very popular, even given the name flammola in Italy, which translates to the little flame. It is a hybrid of several species of viola flowers, which is a wildflower found in parts of Europe and Asia. It has two overlapping blooms in purple, blue, or white, which creates a beautiful cup shape. The term pansy is generally reserved for the large-flowered hybrids that are used to cover garden beds.
The name pansy comes from the word for thought in French, pensee. It adopted this name during the 15th century when the pansy flower became a symbol of lost loved ones and remembrance. To this day in parts of Europe, the term pansy is used to refer to more effeminate men. Unfortunately, this is usually done disparagingly. The pansy flower has also been called heart’s-ease, which stems from the saint Euphrasia. She was a woman who chose not to marry and joined the church and hence became a symbol of humility.
Flowering plants of the Lilium genus, lilies are beautiful herbaceous perennials. They are quite tall and can be found in many parts of the northern hemisphere. The flower petals are quite large and very fragrant. Colors include yellows, oranges, pinks, and purples. They have a tendency to bloom in the late spring and summer months. Lilies are commonly used throughout many parts of Asia as food, with the roots being used much like a parsnip.
In the language of flowers, the lily holds many meanings. They have been associated with feelings of love, passion, as well as affection for loved ones. Orange lilies symbolize happiness and joy. The Easter lily is the official flower of the Easter holiday.
One of mother nature’s greatest gifts, our luck in having flowers in every corner of the globe, is beyond belief. From the many uses in the cuisine of the nigella seed to the fascinating stories of lost roman emperors, there is always something new to explore when delving into the world of flowers. Human beings have become so attached, we have created entire languages to describe the way that flowers make us feel, and whole mythologies to lend more mystery and adventure to them. There can never be enough flowers, and hopefully, they continue to be found everywhere we live.