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Poison Hemlock Plants

The poison hemlock plant is a general title for a small, two-species genus of perennial and biennial herbaceous plants called conium, which belong to the apiaceae family and apioideae subfamily. These pernicious plants are native to temperate regions of West Asia, north Africa and Europe, but their distribution ranges as far as North America, New Zealand and Australia. Poison hemlocks can grow between 5 to 10 feet in height, and are grown from long, slender, hollow steams which may have either red or purple spotting. Its foliage is made up of alternate, lacy, triangular leaves that are similar in appearance to parsley. They also bear tiny, white clusters of flowers.

The poison hemlock plant, as its common name implies, is considered terrifically toxic and rather difficult to detect, as they have a similar appearance to that of carrots, parsnips and parsley. Fortunately, though, these weedy plants give off small warnings. For example, when gently brushed against, they release a vaguely sweet, earthly scent; however, when they are damaged or crushed, they give off a foul, rotting odor. These plants contain a multitude of alkaloids, the most problematic of which is coniine, a neurotoxin that has been shown to effect the central nervous system – even in small doses. Although the entire plant is considered poisonous, the seeds are thought to hold the highest concentration. Because of this, many ancient medicine men felt that minute doses culled from the greens of the poison hemlock plant – often mixed with other herbs – could help treat ailments such as skin disorders, arthritis, and nervous excitement. Poison hemlocks were not strictly used for medicinal purposes, however. One of the best known examples of this pertains to the Classical Greek philosopher, Socrates, who – after having been found guilty of impiety – was sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning. Other examples tell of witches growing this plant in their gardens to help purify magical accoutrements, to cast spells of impotence, and to ritualistically disable a bad situation.

The poison hemlock plant is almost exclusively associated with negative symbols, such as calamity, injustice and the dampening of romantic desires. Although these plants may be pretty to some, it is inadvisable to give them as gifts; not only are they rife with unfavorable associations, but they can also be incredibly harmful to keep around the house – especially if there are small children or animals present.

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Philodendron Plants

The philodendron plant is actually a common name for a large genus – roughly 900 in number – which is a member of the araceae family and aroideae subfamily. These plants have a wide distribution, ranging from tropical regions of the Americas all the way into Asia. Of the many varieties available, you may find a philodendron that trails, climbs or develops as a vine. Its foliage is large and alternate; pinnate, lobed or cut; and either heart, oval or pear-shaped. When mature, the philodendron plant develops an inflorescence that is made up of a waxy, bi-colored spathe that surrounds a spadix. The inflorescence may be cream, bright white or red, and may occur singly or as a large group.

The philodendron plant is absolutely one of the most popular houseplants today, but the history of its collection can be dated as far back as 1644, when the German naturalist Georg Marcgrave began acquiring them from the wild. Many other explorers sought to find out more about this extensive genus; the first such exploration was done by Charles Plumier, who managed to gather and classify at least six new species. As time went by, the philodendron began to increase in popularity, and by 1793 the species philodendron oxycardium was introduced to the English Botanic Gardens, and became a must have plant for any proper parlor. In the United States, the philodendron did not really take off until the mid-1930s when a nurseryman by the name of John Masek noticed the potential of this plant. Considering that they were easy to grow, not to mention low maintenance, he began propagating and selling them to florist shops. In addition to being a popular houseplant, philodendrons have also become a staple of artistic inspiration. Pablo Picasso, for instance, frequently used these plants to shape unusual scenes – such as his 1929 work, “Woman in the Garden,” where the nymph Daphne was transformed into a large brush of vines. More modern artists replicate this plant in vivid, often abstract shades, such as Mimi Little’s “Philodendron,” and Peggy Eyth’s “Tree With Split Leaf Philodendron.”

To pagans, the philodendron plant has long been considered a symbol of health, to others, it is thought to be an emblem for abundance and wealth. As a gift, these plants are frequently given in pots or hanging baskets to welcome neighborhood newcomers; to those who have just purchased their first home; or to wish the recipient well as they move on to a new path.

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Oleander Plants

The oleander plant, which belongs to the apocynaceae family and apocynoideae subfamily, is the only member of the nerium genus. These evergreen plants are made up of shrubs and small trees, and have a broad range of native growth – from areas of the Mediterranean, Portugal and Morocco, all the way through to southern regions of China. These plants can grow between 6 to 20 feet in height, and are made up of erect or spreading branches; whorling, lance-shaped foliage; and thick clusters of flowers. The lanceolate leaves are thick and leathery, and can grow up to 10 inches in length and 1 inch in width. The clustered blossoms develop at the tip of the branches, and consist of deep, 5-lobed petals, and a fringed tube; these flowers come in shades of red, pink, white, purple and yellow.

There is no doubt that the oleander plant is beautiful, but it is also considered highly toxic. Consumption of nearly any part of this plant is said to cause a myriad of ill effects, from stomach ailments to irregular heartbeat, seizures to skin irritation. Despite this fact, the oleander plant has long been considered medicinal. For over 3000 years, this lovely shrub has had strong backing as a potent curative. Both the Romans and the Babylonians created concoctions of oleander to treat hangovers; Pliny the Elder, an ancient Greek naturalist, recommended a syrup of oleander, rue and wine to cure snakebites; while the author John Gerard suggested that if the plant was used externally it had a “digesting faculty,” but internal use could be fatal. In more recent times, the use of oleander as a remedy has had a resurgence. One great example of this is a supplement known as Sutherlandia OPC Extract, which was created by a South African naturopath named Dr. Marc Swanepoel. A recent study of this supplement, which contains a small amount of oleander extract, has shown great promise in both stabilizing, and even reversing the symptoms of HIV; there is so much promise, in fact, that the South African government has approved the supplement, and it is now being produced at a rate of 10,000 bottles a month.

Because of the dual nature of the oleander plant – being both beautiful and poisonous, toxic and healing – it is not surprising that it is the emblem of caution. Although these shrubs may be presented as something of a warning, they are most often given as gifts purely for their natural beauty and intoxicating scent. Though oleander blossoms are occasionally given in an arrangement, they are most commonly presented as potted plants.

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Nasturtium Flowers

Nasturtium flowers belong to the genus tropaeolum, and are members of the small family tropaeolaceae. These blossoms, which are native to regions of Central and South America, may be either annual or perennial, and can bloom as trailers, climbers or bushes. Nasturtiums are very simple in form, being made up of five-petaled flower heads; three distinct pistils; a nectar tube; and rounded, shield-like leaves. What makes these small plants extraordinary is their bold colors – colors that are so intense, they are said to be incredibly difficult to photograph. Their hues range from purple, blue, yellow, pink and red; however, depending upon the variety, they may bear unusual markings, or may be tipped in shades of green.

Nasturtium flowers are undoubtedly one of the most recognizable blooms around. This is not surprising, as their large seeds and ease of care make them a favorite amongst young gardeners-in-training. One fact that many people are unaware of, though, is that nasturtiums are not only easy to grow, but they are also considered quite useful. These plants began wide cultivation during the early 16th century, when seeds were brought to Spain by the Spanish conquistadors. During this time period, it was discovered that these blossoms could be used to treat wounds and help prevent infections. In the later half of the 16th century, nasturtium flowers made their way into Europe. At the start of the 17th century, they were predominantly grown in abbey gardens, and used for a number of medicinal applications. One of the more interesting uses was discovered by the French naturopath Maurice Messengue, who created a hair lotion of the whole nasturtium flower, plus a few nettle and oak leaves, which were all soaked in alcohol until soft; when applied to the head, this potion was said to help prevent hair loss. In more modern times, these plants are still used for medicinal purposes, treating a variety of bacterial, fungal and viral infections. However, they are more commonly seen as a uniquely flavored food staple. They are frequently eaten raw, fried, or pickled; they are also a favorite in soups, salads, stuffed or made into condiments, such as nasturtium vinegar salad dressing.

In general, nasturtium flowers are considered on emblem of conquest and victory; however, they are also representative of charity. As a gift, these blossoms are often given to represent the end of a struggle, or as encouragement during a long journey. Because they are also pretty and easy to care for, they are sometimes given to small children who are fascinated by plant-life. Although small nosegays can be made of nasturtiums, they are best presented as ornate potted plants, or within small flower boxes.

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Mullein Plant

Mullein is a genus of roughly 250 species, the most popular of which is the verbascum thapsus, or common mullein plant. The common mullein is biennial, hardy and native to areas of northern Africa, Asia and Europe. During their first year of growth, mulleins are erect, but low-growing basal rosettes; as they mature they shoot up between 5 to 10 feet, and develop tall, thin, inconspicuous flower stalks. This plant’s foliage is made up of soft, felt-like leaves, which are a blue-gray hue, alternating, and large – often 5 inches in width, and 12 inches in length. The flowers of this plant are sparse but attractive, growing from small stems, they consist of five sturdy petals, and are generally seen in a bright shade of yellow.

Although the mullein plant is considered invasive in some areas, it is also quite welcome in others. This fact is not surprising, as mulleins are terrifically useful. Though the mullein plant began a much wider distribution around the 1700s, it had been known and used as a folk remedy as much as 2000 years ago. The ancient Greek physician Dioscorides suggested that this plant be used for pulmonary ailments; more than two millennia later, this still holds true. Because mulleins contain powerful expectorant agents, they are frequently made into teas, tinctures, and are even smoked and steamed to help clear the lungs of mucus; in addition to that, they are said to reduce inflammation by soothing mucous membranes. These plants are also thought to have potent astringent, antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and are frequently used to treat everything from urinary tract infections and stomach complaints, to swollen joints and sore throats. As well as having medicinal applications, the flowers of the mullein were once used as cloth and hair dyes, while the leaves and stems were commonly dried and made into wicks. The latter usage led to a bit of superstition, which stated that witches frequently used mullein wicks in their spells – generally to ward off wicked spirits and curses.

The mullein plant is often associated with protection; however, they are also said to be emblems of courage. As gifts, these plants are often given to show a desire for the recipient to remain strong in their endeavours, and ultimately succeed. Although they make for excellent potted plants, they may also be given as dried herbs that can be used as a fragrant substitute for incense.

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Lupine Flowers

Lupine flowers, which belong to the lupinus genus, are members of the family fabaceae and subfamily faboideae. These blossoms have a large growth span, reaching from areas of the western United States to South America, and Africa to the Mediterranean. Lupines are mostly made up of perennials, but there are also annual and shrub varieties. These plants can reach between 1 to 10 feet in height – depending upon the type – and contain palmate leaves that resemble thin fingers, which often feature dense, silvery hairs. The flowers themselves are made up of large spikes that may be either whorling or densely clustered. The small pea-like heads come in a vast array of shades, from white, yellow, apricot and pink, to blue, purple, lilac and violet; they may also be bicolored.

Although lupine flowers are known for their uniquely attractive stature, over time they have made a name for themselves as a terrifically useful plant. The first noted example of lupine flowers dates back between 2,000 to 3,000 years, when, in several areas of the Mediterranean, this plant was considered an important food staple. Throughout history, lupine legumes have been soaked in salt water and eaten raw, or made into flour or cooking oil. Today, lupine beans are still used in the same way; however, they are also used to make everything from pasta to pub fare – such as the pickled sweet lupines. In addition to being something of a delicacy, lupine flowers were also used as something of a cosmetic. The English herbalist John Parkinson stated that many women made a concoction of lupine meal, the gall of a goat, and lemon juice to help soften their skin. In more modern times, the extracted oils have undergone extensive research, which has shown that they may penetrate the basal layers of skin and promote cellular activity. This is not surprising, as it has long been known that lupine seeds are high in antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Despite the fact that these plants are generally harmless, some types contain toxic alkaloids which may be harmful to both livestock and humans, and may also cause skin irritation if used in cosmetic products.

In general, the lupine flower is considered the emblem of imagination. As a gift, these plants are frequently given as a token of cheer and lightheartedness, and are often presented on birthdays, anniversaries, and other joyous occasions. Although these blossoms may be given as a potted plant, they look stunning as part of an arrangement or solid bouquet.

Lupine Flower Pictures

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Loosestrife Plants

The loosestrife plant is in the lythrum genus, and is a member of the lythraceae family. These plants – which are native to areas of northwest Africa, southeastern Australia, Asia and Europe – are often confused with members of the lysimachia genus. Although both plants are considered aggressive in their growth habits, their similarities end there. Also known as the purple loosestrife and the spiked loosestrife, these herbaceous perennials are most commonly recognized for their flowers, which burst forth from erect stems. These stems are a muddy red and green in shade, woody, and 4-angled. The flowers themselves contain tightly clustered heads that are made up of five to six purple-red petals, and ten to twelve stamens per head. The foliage is downy, lanceolate, and forms in whorls of three.

The loosestrife plant made its first appearance in North America during the beginning of the 1800s. Early American settlers brought the plant from Europe not only as an ornamental, but also for its uses in medicine. Since then, however, this plant has become something of a nuisance. Although the loosestrife plant grows in abundance throughout the United States, it is most frequently seen growing in wetland areas, where it is tends to compete – and generally choke out – native flora, which also interferes with the nutrition and shelter of a number of fish and wildlife species. When loosestrifes get a foothold they are often hard to get rid of, which is why several biologists in the mid-1980s began to research the possibility of biological control. It was thought that over 100 insects were known to feed off of these plants, and between 1987 and 1991, these insects were exposed to several varieties of loosestrife. In 1992, five types of beetles were considered safe to release throughout the United States and Canada. Although only a few of these species were released in each area, the biologist’s hope was that – in the long run – the loosestrife would be cut down by 80%. Despite the fact that growing these plants in an outdoor garden is frowned upon, they are still sometimes grown in containers as ornamental and medicinal plants. As a folk remedy loosestrifes are thought to make for an excellent astringent, and potent curative for stomach ailments.

Though the loosestrife plant does not carry a good deal of symbolism on its own, it is not hard to associate it with determination and a strong will. Because of this, these plants are sometimes given to someone heading towards a new path in life, someone overcoming an illness, or a couple determined to make their relationship work. Loosestrifes can be given as potted plants; however, arrangements made up of their blossoms are the preferred method of presentation.

Loosestrife Plant Pictures

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Heliotrope Plants

The heliotrope plant – which is sometimes referred to as the cherry pie plant because of its strong caramel, vanilla and cherry-like fragrance belongs to the moderately-sized heliotropium genus, and is a member of the boraginaceae family and heliotropioideae subfamily. These perennial plants, which can reach heights of 2 to 3 feet, consist of broad, coarse, dark green leaves, and large clusters of delicate flowers. Although the velvety, veiny leaves are spectacular on their own, these plants are best known for their fragrant blossoms, which burst forth in large clusters, and appear in shades of blue, white, and purple. As their name implies, the flower heads move with the sun as it moves in the sky.

Because of its striking beauty and alluring scent, the heliotrope plant has found its way into myth and storytelling. One of the best known stories is of Clytie, a water nymph, who was deeply in love with the sun god Helios – or, in some versions, Apollo. This god, however, had his eye on the princess Leukothoe, and one day abandoned Clytie for her. Finding that she had been forsaken, she spent the rest of her days pining away. Upon her death Helios, taking pity on the forlorn nymph whom he had slighted, turned her body into the heliotrope plant. Ever faithful to her beloved, the plant dutifully followed the sun every day. Other tales tell of this plant having a prophetic effect on sleep; dreaming of the plant itself is said to represent unrequited love, while heliotrope oils are thought to bring about prognostic dreams. Other folkloric tales show this plant’s place in rituals. For instance, if you pick a heliotrope blossom in the month of August and use it for good, then good things will come back to you; if, on the other hand, you use it with bad intentions, the wickedness will be turned around on you ten-fold. In addition to having a varied history in folklore, the heliotrope plant is also considered very useful in alternative medicine and cosmetics. The essential oils are used to help fight fatigue, and are also placed in many perfumes and lotions; while tinctures are made from this plant to help cure viral infections, cleanse the blood, and clear out congested lymphatic systems.

This plant was once referred to as the herb of love, which is not surprising as, in general, they are thought to symbolize devotion. In addition to being a romantic emblem, heliotropes are also thought to have a religious bearing; representing a hope for salvation – or “turning towards” God. As a gift, these lovely plants are often given in decorative pots or within small container gardens.

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Gloxinia Flowers

The gloxinia flower, which is sometimes referred to as the florist’s gloxinia, is a single species in the sinningia genus. The name gloxinia is also associated with a small genus under the same label. Although these plants are members of the same family – gesneriaceae – they are no longer grouped together. These blossoms, which originated in Brazil, are delicate in appearance, but can grow to relatively large sizes – sometimes reaching heights of at least 1 foot. Their leaves are ovate and grow to about 6 inches; while their ruffled, velvety, bell-shaped heads generally reach sizes of 4 inches in circumference. Their colors range in rich hues of purple, red, pink and white; they may be solid, bicolored or edged in white.

Because the sinningia speciosa is so frequently confused with the gloxinia genus, it is not surprising that seasoned gardeners would try to differentiate between the two plants by labeling one the “florist’s gloxinia flower.” The reason for this confusion is quite simple. Although the gloxinia flower was first noted sometime during the mid-1780s, it was finally christened in 1817 by the English nurseryman, Conrad Loddiges. The name gloxinia speciosa was given in honor of the German botanist P.B. Gloxin; however, in 1825, the plant was moved to the sinningia species, and the name changed shaped. Because of the time that had passed between the original and the new name, it became a habit for people simply to call this blossom by the common name of gloxinia. Despite any confusion in name, the gloxinia flower is a very recognizable plant, and is well loved by those who take the time to propagate it. The best example of this is the Gesneriad Society, which was founded on a passion for growing these lovely little blooms. In 1949 a little boy named Elvin McDonald read an article in the Flower Grower magazine, which spoke of Albert Buell – better known as the father of modern gloxinias – and his growing methods. After a few years of trying to grow these blooms in his own garden, the young man submitted a letter to the Flower Grower urging people to respond if they would be interested in starting a group of fellow enthusiasts; he received hundreds of responses, and the Gesneriad Society was formed.

Gloxinia flowers are best known as the symbol of love at first sight. Because of this, these blossoms are frequently given as gifts on romantic occasions such as Valentine’s Day, first dates, or anniversaries. Although these plants are often given in bouquets and arrangements, they may also be presented in containers or decorative pots.

Gloxinia Flower Pictures

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Magnolia Tree Flower

The magnolia tree flower – sometimes referred to by its scientific name, magnolia grandiflora or common names of Southern magnolia or bull bay – is a single species in the magnoliaceae family, and is native to regions of the southeastern United States. The tough, leathery evergreen leaves of this tree surround the waxy white blossoms, which burst forth from the tips of twigs in early spring. The magnolia tree flower tends toward a rounded, saucer shape and generally measures 12 inches around. Although other species of the magnolia genus may vary in color, the magnolia grandiflora only comes in a creamy white hue.

Despite the fact that today these blooms have become very popular all over the world, the magnolia tree flower is one of the few plants that actually originated in the United States. Their roots also extend to parts of Asia; however, their earliest distribution to other parts of the world – such as Europe – began in America. In 1688 the first live magnolia was introduced to Britain by the clergyman John Banister – who was an avid student of botany. By 1737, the growth of magnolia grandiflora was in full swing, and the well known botanical artist Georg Ehret became a magnolia enthusiast – walking three miles every morning just to study the buds blooming. As well as having a long and interesting history, the magnolia tree flower is also said to be very useful. The bark of the tree is most commonly used – generally for curing skin conditions, but also for heart and respiration ailments – however, the flowers themselves are frequently used as a rejuvenating essential oil for baths, soaps and candles; they may be pickled and eaten or dried and used as a spice, and they may also be seen as the strong floral note of many perfumes.

To some, the magnolia tree flower is considered the “symbol of the South.” To others, though, they represent perseverance, sweetness and nobility – while the magnolia tree as a whole is considered to be an emblem of dignity. As a gift, these flowers are often given to represent a struggle that has been overcome, poise in the face of adversity, or as a simple token of respect and admiration. Although these flowers may be given in classic bouquets, they may also be presented as single cut pieces, or – for the gardening fanatic – as young, potted plants that may planted into the ground at a later date.

Magnolia Tree Flower Pictures

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