There is no denying that art is a matter of opinion. In order to judge and understand art it is necessary to look at the artworks purposely. This conscious consideration is always a matter of perspective. It is my intention to encourage you to take a closer look and also a different point of view at my flower paintings. Only then you can look deeper and get curious for new impressions. Furthermore, you will be able to realise what I see in flowers.
Each painting is an interpretation of my seeing and shows my personal view of flowers. It is their beauty and their colour intensity which affect not only me but everybody. Insofar my flower paintings act as a kind of language. On the one hand my colourful and atmospheric pictures can be a bridge to our knowledge, into which our rational thinking cannot penetrate. On the other hand there actually is a flower language. In the Victorian period of the 19th century the flower language boomed. If one had to express ones feelings, flowers were the best medium. With respect to strict social codes passionate messages were delivered to the recipient through flowers without using any words. Even if that “flowery language” is scarcely practised any more, the name of a flower still says so much. It contains, if I may say, hidden messages as a result of its origin. Furthermore, as far as a species has been known for hundreds of years it has its own symbolic and mythic significance which is reflected in its name. In fact, one can argue: The name of the flower speaks for itself.
I have gone into the matter of that „nomen est omen“ and revealed a few hidden messages. In short, I have discovered some worth knowing aspects about the name of a flower, but not in a botanical sense. (Source: Basically Wikipedia).
The flowers I have painted bloom in Great Britain, too. They are at least established there. If you press the button of a name you will get interesting background information about its origin and meaning. I have made the selection according to purely subjective criteria. It does not claim to be exhaustive or complete in any way.
It is a common name of the auricula plant and refers to the shape of its leaves. In the Alps the flower developed from a natural hybrid, so to say as a whim of nature. It was discovered in the 16th century and advanced quickly to the position of a favourite flower, mainly of the aristocrats and rich merchants who created large collections.
The collecting passion reached its climax at the end of the 18th century, Particularly for the flouring of the centre of the blossoms and the leaves the flower was very precious. It was necessary to protect it from getting wet. In those days it existed a wide variety of bear's ears. Meanwhile several varieties are extinct. But it has been successful as well to re-breed some of them in the recent past.
Its botanical name "Auricula" comes from the Latin word auricula which means ear.
Bird of paradise flower
The bird of paradise flower is native to South Africa, also to The Canaries and Madeira Islands. In the wild the plant grows to 2 m tall. The flower owes its name to its weird appearance which is reminiscent of the head of an exotic bird.
"Bird of paradise flower" and" crane flower" are common names of the corresponding botanical genus "Strelitzia" which is named after the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Germany), birthplace of the British Queen Charlotte (1774-1818).
The plant is native to boggy regions in Western Europe, from southern Portugal to Norway, as well as to wetlands further from the coast in Central Europe such as Austria and Switzerland. However, the progressive draining of bogs and wetlands endangers the natural habitat of bog heather.
Bog heather is a perennial sub shrub with small hairy, pink bell-shaped drooping flowers. Its genus name „Erica“ was chosen by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753 and comes from the Greek word eireice for heather.
The name „calla“ derives from the Greek word kalos, which means beautiful and is borrowed from Greek mythology: Calliope was the muse who presided over eloquence and epic poetry. She was admired for her outstanding beauty.
Nowadays calla lily represents elegance and symbolizes both beauty and appreciation. For its physical likeness to female genitalia calla lily has often been attributed a sexual meaning. The American artist Georgia O'Keeffe (1887 - 1986) chose the calla lily as one of her favourite subjects. She increasingly felt frustrated due to hints at erotic content and psychoanalytic interpretations of her paintings and refused such a limited view as follows: “When people read erotic symbols into my paintings, they're really talking about their own affairs“.
There are, in a way, two kinds of chocolate flowers, which differ from each other not only in their colours:
The real chocolate flower, defined in botanical terms, is the yellow blooming chocolate flower, which belongs to the species „Belandiera“. This name comes from the Belgian/French naturalist Jean Louis Berlandier (1895 - 1851). The flower is native to North America, blossoms only in yellow and smells of milk chocolate.
On the contrary, the red chocolate flower is actually a chocolate cosmos and, therefore, not related to the real and yellow blooming chocolate flower (Berlandiera). This red chocolate cosmos comes from Mexico, blossoms only in red to dark red and smells of bittersweet chocolate.
The wild Clematis species are native to China. They made their way into Japanese gardens by the 17th century. Japanese garden selections were the first exotic clematises to reach European gardens in the 18th century, long before the Chinese species were identified in their native habitat at the end of the 19th century. As the Celematis plant arrived in Europe it acquired several meanings during the Victorian era, which was famous for its nuanced flower symbolism. It symbolized both mental beauty and art as well as poverty.
The Clematis plant is a genus of about 300 species. Most of them are known as clematis in English, while some are also known as traveller's joy, virgin's bower, old man's beard, leather flower or vase vine. The genus name "Clematis" was used in Classical Greek for various climbing plants and is based on the Greek word klema, meaning vine or tendril.
Its genus name is Echinacea, which derives from the Greek word echinos, meaning hedgehog, due to the spiny central disk. Coneflowers are found in eastern and central North America, growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas.
In former times Native American tribes used coneflower for its supposed medicinal qualities: The Kiowa and the Cheyenne used it for coughs and sore throats, the Pawnee for headaches, and many tribes including the Lakotah used it as a pain medication (e.g. against snake poison or blood poisoning). Due to its immune-boosting effects the modern medicinal use of the coneflower lies in the treatment and prevention of common colds.
The name derives from the Greek word krokos, which means thread and points towards the filaments that grow inside each blossom.
An exceptional species of the Crocus genus is the saffron crocus or autumn crocus. It is best known for producing the spice saffron from the filaments of the flower. Human cultivation of saffron crocus and use of saffron have taken place for more than 3,500 years in different cultures, continents and civilizations.
Saffron is considered to be the most valuable spice by weight. 50,000 - 75,000 saffron crocus plants are needed to produce about 1 pound of saffron.
Its genus name Fritillaria derives from the Latin word fritillus, which means dice shaker. This description refers to the floral shape. The common name crown imperial relates to the large circle of yellow or orange-red flowers, which is reminiscent of an emperor's crown.
The plant is native to a wide stretch from Turkey and Iraq across the plateau of Iran to Afghanistan. During the 16th century Venetian merchants brought this flower along from the Orient to Europe. Since then crown imperial is enchanting due to its most intensive colourfulness. Even William Shakespeare was fond of this flower and mentioned it in his play „The Winter's Tale“.
The plant is native to Mexico. The indigenous people, the Aztecs, admired this flower for hundreds of years. They also used it as a food crop as well as to treat epilepsy. They even made use of its long hollow stem as a water pipe. The Aztecs labelled the dahlia for example as “water pipe flower”, “water pipe” or “cane flower”. The dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963.
Spanish conqueror discovered the dahlia growing in Mexico. In 1789, Vicente Cervantes, Director of the Botanical Garden at Mexico City, sent plant parts to his colleague Antonio José Cavanilles, Director of the Royal Gardens of Madrid. It was in autumn 1790 as the dahlia flowered in Europe for the first time.
The naming of the plant itself was a subject of some confusion. Some sources claimed that the name "Dahlia" was given by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus to honour his late student Anders Dahl. However, Linnaeus died in 1778, more than eleven years before the plant was introduced into Europe, Linnaeus could not have been the one who did so. It was probably Antonio José Cavanilles (see above) who was engaged to scientifically define the genus. By the way, Anders Dahl died in 1789, just in that year as dahlia seeds were sent to Europe.
Any more, "Dahl" is homophone of the Swedish word "dal" which means "valley". The Valley of Mexico is a highland plateau in central Mexico roughly bordering with present-day Mexico City. Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes the Valley of Mexico was a holy cult centre for the civilization of the Aztecs. The ancient Aztec term Land between the Waters referred to the Valley of Mexico. When the Spaniards arrived in the Valley of Mexico it had one of the highest population concentration in the world with about one million people.
Regardless of who bestowed it, the name was not so easily established. In 1805, the German botanist Carl Ludwig Willdenow changed the plants' genus from "Dahlia" into "Georgina", named after the German-born naturalist Johann Gottlieb Georgi, professor at the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg, Russia. It was not until 1810 that he officially adopted the Cavanilles' original designation of "Dahlia". However, the name "Georgina" has still persisted in Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
The name “daisy” comes from an Old English word meaning „day's eye“. It is also a nickname for Margaret. The French version is called „Marguerite“ which is the French name for the daisy-flower, too. „Marguerite“ derives from the Latin word margarita which means pearl. By the way, the small flower heads look pearly.
The flower was discovered by the French monk and botanist Charles Plumier (1646 - 1704) in Santo Domingo about 1696 during his expedition to the Greater Antilles. He named the new genus after the renowned German physician and botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501 - 1566). Leonhart Fuchs lived in Wemding in the Duchy of Bavaria and occupied the chair of Medicine at the Tübingen University from his appointment at the age of 34 until his death. Besides his medical knowledge he studied plants. This was unusual in those days. Today he is considered one of the fathers of botany.
Almost 110 species of fuchsia are recognized. The vast majority are native to South America, but a few occur north through Central America to Mexico, and also several from New Zealand to Tahiti. One species extends as far as the southern trip of South America, occurring on Tierra del Fuego in the cool temperate zone, but the majority are tropical or subtropical.
The first fuchsia species were introduced into English gardens and glasshouses at the end of the 18th century. During the 19th century plant collecting fever spread throughout Europe and the United States. Many species of numerous genera were introduced, some as living plants, others as seed. There was a tremendous influx to England of both hybrids and varieties. Between 1900 and 1914 many of the famous varieties were produced which were grown extensively for Covent Garden market by many growers just outside London. During the period between the world wars, fuchsia-growing slowed as efforts were made toward crop production until after 1949, when plant and hybrid production resumed on a large scale.
The worldwide first formed fuchsia society was the American Fuchsia Society in San Francisco, established in 1929.
It was named in honour of the German botanist and medical doctor Traugott Gerber (1710 – 1743). The flower is native to tropical regions of South America, Africa and Asia. Gerbera is also commonly known as the African Daisy.
Due to its warm red and yellow colours the flower symbolizes cheerfulness and power.
The name derives from the Greek words hydro for water and angeion for jar. The flower shape definitely looks like a water jar.
The plant is native to southern and eastern Asia and was brought to Europe in the 18th century. In particular, the pink hydrangea has risen in popularity all over the world. Basically, hydrangea represents generosity and abundance because of the great plenty of its small blossoms.
The plant is native to South and Central America and was brought to Europe in the 16th century. Its name is caused by the Indians who used the flower like cress as salad ingredients. Until today Indian cress has been used in herbal medicine for its antiseptic and expectorant qualities. It is said to be good for chest colds and to promote the formation of new blood cells.
Its genus name „Tropaeolum“ was chosen by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707 - 1778) because the plant reminded him of an ancient custom: After victory in a battle, the Romans erected a trophy poly (in Latin tropaeum) on which the defeated enemy's armour and weapons were hung.
In the context of Indian cress exists the „Elizabeth Linnaeus Phenomenon“ or shortly the phenomenon of „Flahing Flowers“. Especially at dusk, the orange flowers may appear to emit small „flashes“. Once believed to be an electrical phenomenon, it is today thought to be an optical reaction in the human eye caused by the contrast between the orange flowers and the surrounding green. The phenomenon is named after Elizabeth von Linné, one of Carl Linnaeus's daughters.
The name derives from the Greek word for a rainbow. It is also the name for the Greek goddess of the rainbow.
Not only in art but also in symbolism the iris figures prominently. It is one of the state flowers of Tennessee (USA). Greeneville, Tennessee, is home to the annual Iris Festival. A stylized yellow Iris is the symbol of the Brussels-Capital Region (Belgium). The provincial flower of Québec (Canada) is the Harlequin Blueflag, called iris versicolore in French.
Iris stands for creativity, creative energy and determination.
It is the common name for flowers belonging to the genus „Delphinium“, which derives from the Latin delphinus for dolphin, referring to the shape of the nectary. „Spur“ as part of the common name Larkspur results from the fact that mostly each flower consists of five petal-like sepals which grow together to form a hollow pocket with a spur at the end.
The flower is native throughout the Northern Hemisphere and also on the high mountains of tropical Africa. There is a wide range of colours from purple and blue, to red, yellow or white. All Larkspurs are toxic to humans and livestock.
The name derives from the Latin word lavare, which means to wash/to clean. Lavender does not clean itself, but the plant sheds a very pleasant and fresh perfume. In former times lavender was strewn on the floor for keeping the air fresh. At that time it was even used as a prevention from the pest and tuberculosis. Till this day the flower is used as an herbal medicine either in the form of lavender oil or as a herbal tea. Dried lavender flowers and lavender essential oil are also used as a prevention from clothes moths, which do not like their scent.
Lavender represents confidence, purity and even temper.
Its genus name „Helleborus“ derives from the Greek words hellein for injure and bora for food. The Greek word helleborio means mad and refers to the fact that in ancient times the flower was used as medicine by people with mental illness.
Lenten roses, often known as oriental hellebores, are native to Turkey and Caucasus. Just like all Helleborus species lenten roses are poisonous. The lenten rose is often confused with the so-called Christmas rose. But the Christmas rose flowers only during the period December till February and develops always white-coloured blossoms. Against this, the lenten rose blooms in a wide variety of colours from December till early spring, around the period of Lent.
Although the word „rose“ is part of its name the lenten rose is not related to the rose family. This byname indicates that the lenten rose is able to develop equally beautiful blossoms as a real rose.
Lily of the valley
This sweetly scented woodland flower is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Europe and Asia. Other common names are e.g. May bells, Our Lady's tears and Mary's tears. Its botaical name "Convallaria" comes from the Latin and means "valley basin" and refers to its original distributuin.
Although highly poisonous the flower has been used as a folk remedy since hundreds of years. It contains mainly cardiac glycosides.
The lily of the valley was the favourite flower of the French fashion designer Christian Dior (1905 - 1957). In 1956 his identically named luxory goods company produced a fragrance simulating this flower, called "Diorissimo". It was designed by the French perfumer Edmond Roudnitska and is considered a classic since then.
At the beginning of the 20th century it became tradition in France to sell lillies of the valley on International Labour Day, 1 May (also called La Fête du Muguet, means Lily of the Valley Day) by labour organisations and private persons without paying sales tax (on that say only) as a symbol of spring.
Two of the flower's alternative names - Our Lady's tears and Mary's tears (see above) - derive from the Christian legends that it sprang from the weeping of the Virgin Mary during crucifixion of Jesus. Other etiologies have its coming into being from Eve's tears after she was driven with Adam from the Garden of Eden or from the blood shed by Saint Leonard of Noblac during his battles with a dragon.
The lily of the valley became the national flower of Finland.
The name comes from the Greek, meaning 'appreciated plant'. The lotus has always been regarded in different cultures, from the ancient Egypt, India to Asia in general, as the very symbol of a mythical plant. It is associated with the soul as well as with gods and goddesses.
The genus includes over 200 species, with centres of diversity in North and South America. Smaller centres occur in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Seeds of lupins have been used as a food for over thousands of years. Consumed throughout the Mediterranean region and the Andean mountains, lupins were eaten by the early Egyptian and pre-Incan people and were known to Roman agriculturalists to contribute to the fertility of soils. The genus name „Lupinus“ derives from the Latin word lupus for wolf which probably refers to the wolf-grey coloured hairy husks.
Lupins were introduced into northern Europe as a means of improving soil quality in the late 18th century. The first steps to transform the lupin into a contemporary domesticated cropping plant were taken by German scientists in the early 20th century. Their goal was to cultivate a sweet variety of lupin that did not have a bitter taste, also to make it suitable for both human consumption and animal feed in view of the fact that basically lupins were toxic. The successful development of lupin varieties with the necessary „sweet gene“ paved the way for the greater adoption of lupins across Europe and later Australia. The market for lupin seeds for human food is currently small, but researchers believe it has great potential. Lupin seeds are considered superior to soya beans and evidence is increasing for their potential health benefits (e.g. less fat, gluten-free, prebiotic). About 85% of the world's lupin seeds are grown in Western Australia.
Lupins are popular ornamental plants not only in common gardens but also at the famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London.
This plant is native to East and Southeast Asia. It was named in honour of the French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638 – 1715).
The flowers of many species are considered edible. In parts of England, the pedals are pickled and used as a spicy condiment. In some Asian cuisines, the buds are pickled and used to flavour rice and scent tea. In Japan, the young leaves and flower buds are broiled and eaten as a vegetable. Older leaves are made into powder and used as seasoning.
For a long time the bark and flower buds have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Magnolia is the official state flower of both Mississippi and Louisiana. Historically, magnolias have been associated with the Southern United States. Magnolia is also the national flower of North Korea.
Its genus name „Caltha palustris“ derives from the Greek word kalathos for goblet and the Latin word palustris for 'of the marsh' which indicates its common habitat.
In the UK, too, marsh marigold is known by a variety of vernacular names, varying by geographical region. These include in addition to the most common two, marsh marigold and kingcup, also such as brave bassinets, crazy Beth, horse blob, water boots, meadow buttercup or cow lily. The common name „marigold“ refers to its use in medieval churches at Easter as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, as in „Mary gold“.
The Mexican aster is mainly native to Mexico. As the plant belongs to the botanical genus "Cosmos" it is commonly called the garden cosmos as well. After the Spanish conqueror had taken Mexico this genus was established 1791 by the botanist Antonio José Cavanilles, Director of the Royal Gardens of Madrid.
The plant is native to Europe and Asia, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean. It has a long history of use as a herbal remedy. Native Americans used the ground seeds of this plant as a paralytic fish poison. In traditional Austrian medicine mullein flowers have been used as tea or as ointment, baths or compresses for treatment of disorders of, for example, the respiratory tract, skin and veins.
The plant's stem is considered as a superb drill for use in the hand drill method of friction fire lighting.
The name comes from the Greek word orchis for testicle, referring to the shape of the twin tubers and the aphrodisiac effect, too, which has always been attributed to this flower.
Orchids are cosmopolitan, occurring in almost every habitat apart from glaciers. The world's richest diversity of orchids is found in the tropics, but they are also found above the Arctic Circle and in southern Patagonia.
Orchids have been used in traditional medicine in an effort to treat many diseases. In China they have been used as a source of herbal remedies since 2800 BC.
Orchids have many associations with symbolic value. For example, the orchid is the national flower of Venezuela, Singapore, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala and Honduras.
The name is derived from the French word pensée for thought and was imported into English as a name of Viola in the 15th century, as the flower was regarded as a symbol of remembrance.
The name of the flower is different in other languages and countries. For example: In Scandinavia and German-speaking countries the pansy is known as „stepmother“: the name was accompanied by a tale about a selfish stepmother, told to children while the teller plucked off corresponding parts of the blossom to fit the plot. The pansy is known as flammola (little flame) in Italy and as „Ammon and Tamar“ in Israel (after the tragic story involving three of King David's children, 2 Samuel 13).
English common names are besides pansy also viola and violet and are interchangeable. In the beginning of the 19th century, Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet (1785 – 1861), daughter of the Earl of Tankerville, collected and cultivated every sort of Viola tricolor she could get in her father's garden in Surrey. Under the supervision of her gardener a large variety of plants was produced via cross-breeding. Rather soon she introduced her pansies to the horticultural world. Nurserymen cultivated the flower and as a result the pansy became a favourite among the public.
The word „pansy“ has indicated an effeminate male since Elizabethan times and its usage as a dismissive term for a man who is effeminate, as well as for a homosexual man, still continues. The word „ponce“ (in the meaning of „pimp“) and the adjective „poncey“ (effeminate) also derive from „pansy“.
Due to its meaning „thought“, the pansy was chosen as a symbol of Freethought. Humanists use it, too, as the pansy's current appearance was developed from the heartsease by two centuries of international crossbreeding of wild plant hybrids. The specific colours of the flower (purple, yellow, white) are meant to symbolize memories, loving thoughts and souvenirs. In William Shakespeare's „A Midsummer Night's Dream“ the juice of the pansy is a love potion and „on sleeping eyelids laid, will make a man or woman madly dote on the next live creature that it sees“. A German fable tells of how the pansy lost its perfume. Originally pansies would have been very fragrant, growing wild in fields and forests. It was said that people would trample the grass completely in eagerness to pick pansies. Unfortunately, the people's cows were starving because of the ruined fields, so the pansy prayed to give up her perfume. Her prayer was answered and without her perfumed scent the fields grew tall and the cows grew fat on the fresh green grass.
The plant is native to Asia, Europe and North America. Its genus name "Paeonia" is derived from Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. In Greek mythology, when Asclepius became jealous of his pupil, Zeus saved Paeon from wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower.
The peony is the national flower of China. Peonies have been used and cultivated there since early history. Ancient Chinese texts mention the peony was used for flavouring food. Confucius (551 - 479 BC) is quoted to have said: "I eat nothing without its sauce. I enjoy it very much because of its flavour." Peonies became popular during the Tang dynasty (619 - 907) when they were grown in the imperial gardens. From then on up to the present day the peony flower is highly appreciated in China.
Peonies have large, often fragrant blossoms, in colours ranging from purple and red to pink and white. The flowers have a short blooming season in late spring and early summer (May and June), usually only 7 to 10 days.
Poppies have been grown as ornamental plants since 5000 BC. They were found in Egyptian graves. In Greek mythology the poppy was associated with Demeter, goddess of fertility and agriculture. The origin of the cultural symbol was probably Minoan Crete, because a figurine known as the „poppy goddess“ was found at a Minoan sanctuary in Crete. People believed they would get a plenty crop if poppies grew in their fields. That is the reason for the name „corn poppy“. Poppies have always been attributed important features. Some species contain narcotic alkaloids, used e.g. as a mild tranquilizer. The botanical name of the poppy is „Papaver“. It is said that this name derives from the Latin words pappa for pap and verum for genuine due to the fact that in Ancient Rome mothers mixed poppies into the pap for their children to promote sleep. The best known drug made of poppies is opium considered to be one of the strongest drug for dulling the senses.
Today morphine and codeine are common alkaloids found in several poppy varieties. Australia, Turkey and India are the most important producers of poppy for medicinal use, while e.g. the USA and the UK are one of the largest processors.
Due to the extent of ground disturbance in warfare during the First World War corn poppies bloomed between the trench lines and no man's lands on the Western front. During the 20th century the wearing of a poppy at and before Remembrance Day each year became an established custom in English-speaking western countries.
The poppy is the national flower of Poland.
Roses have been cultivated for millennia, from at least 500 BC in Mediterranean countries, Persia and China. The name „rose“ derives from the Latin word rosa with an identical meaning. In ancient Rome the rose symbolized devotion to the goddess Venus. Following the Christianizing of Rome the rose became identified with the Virgin Mary. Finally the rose symbol led to the creation of the rosary and other devotional prayers in Christianity.
The rose is the national flower of England since the English civil wars of the 15th century („Wars of the Roses“), in which the red rose represented the House of Lancaster and the white rose the House of York. The traditional ballad „The Rose of England“ retells the seizure of the crown by the Earl of Richmond (who became Henry VII of England), using a red rose as a symbol for Henry. The England national rugby union team and Rugby Football Union adopted the red rose as their symbol in 1871. The rose has appeared on players' kit ever since.
Additionally, the rose has been an important symbol with anti-authoritarian associations. The „White Rose“ was a non violent resistance group in Germany during World War II. The rose symbol became popular among socialist and social democratic political parties in Europe after the Second World War. The red rose in a fist is used by the Socialist International. Likewise the British Labour Party has used a red rose as its symbol since the late 1980s; the rose replaced the party's previous symbol, the red flag.
Its genus name „Helenium“ derives from Helen of Troy, daughter of Zeus and Leda. Sneezeweed is the common name of this flower, based on the former use of the dried leaves in making snuff. It was inhaled to cause sneezing that would supposedly rid the body of evil spirits. This perennial belongs to the sunflower family, grows up to 2 metres tall and is native to the Americas.
Its genus name „Galanthus nivalis“ comes from the Greek words gala for milk and anthos for flower; nivalis derives from the Latin which means snow-white. Snowdrops have been known since the earliest times under various names but were named „Galanthus“ by the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné in 1753. The word „Snowdrop“ may derived from the German Schneetropfen, the tear drop shaped pearl earrings were popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Other common names are e.g. Fair maids of February and White ladies.
The snowdrop is native to a large area in Europe and Western Asia. Although it is often thought of as a British native wild flower or to have been brought to the British Isles by the Romans, it is probably introduced around the early 16th century. Nevertheless, snowdrops are very popular in British gardens. Celebrated as a sign of spring, snowdrops can form impressive carpets of white in areas where they have been naturalised. There are a number of snowdrop gardens in the UK which open specially in February for visitors to admire the flowers. Colesbourne Park in Cloustershire is one of the best known of the English snowdrop gardens, being the home of Henry John Elwes, a collector of snowdrops who discovered the snowdrop species „Galanthus elwesii“ which is named after him. For some time a real collecting passion concerning snowdrops has already existed, not only in the UK but also worldwide. It is not unusual that at an auction high prices will be reached just for one snowdrop.
Snowdrops are among the earliest spring bulbs to bloom. They are really tough flowers. In colder climates they will emerge through snow due to the fact that they developed astonishing survival strategies. For this reason snowdrops stand for vitality and power to live.
Snowdrops are poisonous. It is suggested that the mysterious magical herb that appears in Homer's „Odyssey“ is actually snowdrop. An active substance in snowdrop is called galantamine, which could have acted as a remedy to Circe's poisons. Galantamine can be helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Its genus name „Helianthus anunus“ is derived from the Greek words helios for sun and anthos for flower. It is borrowed from Greek mythology and recorded in one of Ovid's poetries.
The sunflower was first domesticated in North and Middle America. Many indigenous American people used the sunflower as the symbol of their solar deity, also the Aztecs and the Incas in South America, in the beginning of the 16th century. Spanish explorers encountered the sunflower in the Americas and carried its seeds back to Europe. During the 18th century the use of sunflower oil became very popular in Russia, particularly with members of the Russian Orthodox Church, because sunflower oil was one of the few oils that was allowed during Lent, according to some fasting traditions.
The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. Also it is often used as a symbol of green ideology. It is the symbol of the Vegan Society, too.
Basically, the sunflower symbolizes fertility and growth, also an unforgettable summer and in this way happiness, warmness and confidence.
Its name is derived from the Turkish or Persian language. In early times it was fashionable in the Ottoman Empire to wear tulips on turbans. Apart from that, the shape of a tulip flower resembled to that of a turban. Possibly the translator confused the flower for the turban. Till this day the tulip is the national flower of Turkey.
Cultivation of the tulip began in Persia, probably in the 10th century. The flower was introduced to Western Europe during the 16th century. Initially, tulips were cultivated for scientific purposes mainly in the Netherlands. But shortly the tulip developed to a trendy flower. Aristocracy and upper class considered the tulip as their favourite flower. During the 17th century, in the so called Dutch Golden Age, the tulip evolved into an object of speculation. Contract prices for some bulbs reached extraordinary high levels. At the peak of that tulip mania, in the beginning of 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftswoman. The highly speculative tulip market collapsed dramatically. It is considered the first recorded economic bubble.
The beauty of this plant is reflected in its genus name, too: „Nymphaea“ traces to the nymphs of the Greek mythology, who were pretty nature spirits, living close to the spring of rivers, streams and lakes.
Even beyond all myths water lilies are full of mysteries. As any other divas they rise late. Water lilies open up only during intense brightness and remain closed at night, among the shades or in case of rain.
Just like in the case of the lotus, the leaves of the water lily are highly water-repellent and have given the name to what is called the 'lotus effect'. For that reason, in many parts of Asia water lilies, too, are a symbol for purity, faith and enlightenment.
Despite similar structures the water lily is not related to the lotus.
The flower is also commonly known as the Chines anemone or the Japanese anemone. It is native to Central China, though it has been naturalised in Japan for hundreds of years. In 1844, the Scottish botanist Robert Fortune (1812 - 1880) brought the plant from Shanghai to England.
Its genus name „Anemone“ supposedly derived from the Greek word anemos for wind.
The plant is native to China. It was brought to Europe in the middle of the 19th century by the Scottish botanist, plant hunter and traveller Robert Fortune (1812 - 1880), best known for stealing tea plants from China in the employment of the British East India Company.
Due to its blossom peaks right after winter, this flower is also named "Yingchun" in Chinese, which means "the flower that welcomes Spring". As its name suggests winter jasmine flowers from December to April. The solitary flowers are bright yellow and appear on still bare stems. Its genus name "Jasminum nudiflorum" indicates this characteristic: nudiflorum is a word of Latin origin and means 'naked flower'.
In general, winter jasmin does not scent.