The zinnia flower is a small genus of roughly 20 species in the asteraceae family. These fantastic flowers predominately grow in Mexico; however, they can be seen growing all throughout South America all the way to the American Southwest. The head of the zinnia flower is made up of small disk flowers at its center, and larger ray flowers along the outside. In appearance, though, these flowers are generous in variety. They may be seen in dome shapes or with a single row of petals; their leaves may be stalkless, and can be either linear or ovate, and light to medium green in color; their petals may be either a single color, or contain multiple hues. In fact, these flowers come in a wide range of color – white and yellow, orange and red, light and dark purple, and a unique greenish yellow chartreuse.
The zinnia flower derived its name for the 18th century German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn, who was a professor at the Gottingen University. During 1753, he became the director of the botanic garden at the university, and thus published the first scientific illustration of the zinnia. This small connection caused the flower to be associated with the botanist, and so it inherited his name. The zinnia flower originated in Mexico and was called “mal de ojos” by the Spanish. This was roughly translated into “sickness of the eye” or, more simply, eyesore, as the early plants were weak, dull purple and weed-like in appearance. Spanish explorers took the seeds of this flower to Europe, and the feeling of distaste was initially mutual. However, with a good deal of breeding, by the 19th century newer, more striking zinnias became very common garden plants, and breeds such as Striata and Pumila Mixed were sent out to the United States. Today, zinnias are still being hybridized. A more recent breed, called the Profusion series, paired zinnia elegans and zinnia angustifolia. This combination created compact flowers that require no dead-heading, and are almost entirely resistant to extreme conditions like humidity, heat and common plant diseases.
Sometimes called the Cinderella flower, zinnias are a great symbol of transformation. This title refers to their early days as scraggly, weedy blooms to stunning garden beauties, and this simple representation could very well make them a great gift to someone who has also transformed their lives for the better. In general, though, zinnias are thought to represent friendship and thoughtfulness. However, different hues represent different feelings. For instance, a magenta zinnia reflects a feeling of lasting affections, while a white one means goodness; a scarlet zinnia symbolizes constancy, while a blossom with mixed colors shows that you are thinking of an old or lost friend.