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Chinese Lantern Flowers

The herbaceous perennial plant physalis alkekengi – better known as Chinese lantern flowers – is related to physalis peruviana, or the cape gooseberry. Although similar in structure, Chinese lanterns are much larger, and their outer covering is bright orange or red in appearance. These perennial flowers are indigenous to southeastern Europe and Japan, and grow their best in full sunlight and rich soil. Throughout their period of growth, the Chinese lantern flower will begin as a delicate, five-lobed corolla which will eventually become a faintly green husk that houses a small berry. Over time, the flower will turn an orange or red hue, and will become papery in its texture.

Chinese lantern flowers are frequently grown for their novel appearance; however, these flowers are also grown for a vast array of more useful tasks. For instance, many people like to use the flowers for arts and crafts, as these unique blossoms last for long periods of time when dried. They are often woven into wreaths or dried bouquets; they may be pressed into scrap books, jewelry or bookmarks; the intricate dried veins of the husk may also be gently dipped into glue or shellac to harden them, then they may be painted. The fruit of Chinese lanterns is – in small quantities – quite edible. The flavor of the fruit is considered refreshing and mild, and can be turned into sweet, exotic jellies, or simply eaten whole – some even like to eat them dipped in chocolate. Although the leaves and unripened berries of this plant are considered poisonous, many people still believe that in small doses they may have potent medicinal properties. These flowers are sometimes used to treat such things as facial paralysis, respiratory ailments, bed-wetting, fevers and even delayed labor.

Although Chinese lantern flowers may not have an especially large amount of symbolism attached to them, what they do have has made them into an endearing and joyful emblem of warmth. Given that these flowers enfold and defend the small, delicate fruit buried within their husks, they may be the perfect symbol for protection. Their fiery orange red hue denotes a passion for life, amiability, endurance and vitality. As a gift, these flowers are more commonly given dried or in silk forms. They are sometimes used in wedding bouquets or to decorate ceremonies as an alternative to the more common blossoms.

Chinese Lantern Flower Pictures

Zinnia Flowers

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.

Zinnia Flower Pictures

Sweet Pea Flowers

Sweet pea flowers, which are native to eastern regions of the Mediterranean, are of a genus of flowering plants called lathyrus, and come from the family fabaceae – or the legume family. The delicate fragrance of sweet pea flowers has always been one of the highlights of these plants; however, they are also well known for their dainty, brightly-hued appearance. These flowers are annual climbing plants that, when given a proper structure to grow on, can reach heights of 6 to 9 feet, or 8 to 20 inches in the dwarf varieties. Although the wild grown types only appear in a bright shade of purple, the many cultivars come in shades of pink, white, and lavender – amongst others.

The cultivation of sweet pea flowers began in the 17th century; however, their growth and hybridization has continued all the way through to today. Henry Eckford created a splash during the late Victorian era when, in 1882, he first introduced his sweet pea cultivar, the Bronze Prince. He later went on to introduce at least 115 cultivars, and was awarded a medal of honor for all he had done. In 1901, Silas Cole – who was the head gardener to the Earl of Spencer – discovered a natural mutation and called this flower the multiflora. In more recent years, Dr. Keith Hammett of New Zealand began to successfully breed newer forms of the sweet pea flower. These changes consist of different growth patterns, stripping, and stronger scents for each blossom. Sweet peas have made only a few appearances in folklore, but they are sometimes considered to be a lucky plant, and are often tied in with St. Patrick’s day. People once thought that if you planted these flowers before sunrise on this particular holiday, not only will you be lucky, but your flowers will grow abundantly and become extra fragrant.

Given the fact that sweet pea flowers are not only lovely to look at, but last long after being clipped, these flowers are frequently given as gifts. Fragrant and dainty, these blossoms are often considered symbols of delicate or blissful pleasures and good fortune. They are also occasionally associated with bittersweet farewells, and are sometimes given to new brides by her parents. Although many people like to create gift baskets with sweet pea themed items like lotions, soaps and perfumes, many others prefer to give a simple – but overflowing – basket of the flowers by themselves. The smaller varieties may be given as potted houseplants, while any type may be clipped and placed into a bouquet or given as a single flower.

Sweet Pea Flower Pictures

Snowdrop Flowers

The snowdrop flower – or galanthus – is often described as having the appearance of three drops of milk spilling forth from a bright green stem. Snowdrops are a genus of about 20 species, and come from the amaryllidaceae family. Unlike many other flowers – which are generous with their color variations – snowdrop flowers only come in a sophisticated, creamy white hue. Another thing that makes these flowers so unique is that they may sometimes flower early, often poking through layers of snow. Because of their simplicity and lack of major variation, there are really only two species that are regularly cultivated. These are galanthus elwesii, or the giant snowdrop, and galanthus nivalis, or the common snowdrop.

The snowdrop flower – which is well loved not only for its simple beauty, but for its distinct, honey-like scent – has a surprisingly varied history in both ancient folklore and more modern storytelling. Snowdrops have been used as inspiration for stories like Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Snowdrop,’ which describes the flower as being the first to arrive in spring. Another such story appears in Lenore E. Mulets’ book “Flower Stories.” In this book a whole chapter is dedicated to describing the flower and its growth in a charming, fairytale-like narrative. In myth, the snowdrop flower has a slightly more foreboding tale to tell. Due to their low growing patterns and the fact that they were regularly seen springing up in cemeteries, many Victorians felt that these flowers were representative of death. In fact, many people felt it was bad luck to bring them into the homes of those who were ill, as they were considered bad luck. On a more positive note, the snowdrop flower also appears in biblical stories. One such being that of the snowdrop bursting forth to comfort Adam and Eve after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden.

Although snowdrop flowers were once considered a bad omen, today they are thought to be a simple, delicate symbol of hope, purity and consolation. As gifts, these flowers are given for a variety of reasons. They may be a simple expression of sympathy, or an elegant symbol of optimism and virtue which can be presented to a bride or wedding party. Sometimes, though, these flowers are given solely for their lovely appearance, and may be presented alongside more colorful blossoms in a large arrangement or small bouquet. They may also be given as potted flowers, or even pressed plants.

Snowdrop Flower Pictures

Snapdragon Flowers

The snapdragon flower – named after its dragon-like appearance, with “jaws” that can easily be snapped open and closed – is of the genus antirrhinum which is native to regions of the Mediterranean. These flowers, which form in whorls atop a thin stalk, can be seen in beautiful hues of burgundy, pink and red, as well as orange, white, yellow and a unique shade of bronze. Snapdragons are often classified according to height and flower form. For height, there are three types – dwarf, medium and tall. As for form, they may be seen in either their familiar ‘snappable’ shape, or as open-faced blossoms. These flowers are considered relatively easy to grow in gardens. They take a mere eight days to germinate in warm weather, require rich, well drained soil, and only a minimal amount of coaxing to encourage flower branching.

Although the snapdragon flower is well loved for its more interactive nature, these flowers have a long history that goes beyond being a simple floral plaything. As its otherworldly appearance may suggest, the snapdragon has long been associated with magical thinking. In Germany, if a snapdragon was hung over a baby’s bed, the child would be safe from evil spirits. They have also been thought to drive away witches, restore youthfulness and beauty to women, as well as bring back vigor and energy in everyone. The snapdragon flower is also considered to have a variety of uses. During the Middle Ages, these flowers were often weaved into the hair of maidens so as to make them both gracious and intriguing, and to ward off any unwanted advances. They have also been used to create cooking oils – that of which is said to be nearly comparable to olive oil – as well as dyes, perfumes and medicine. These bitter tasting flowers have sometimes been used as stimulants, and turned into poultices to help heal tumors and ulcers.

The snapdragon flower has something of a dual nature when it comes to symbolism. Because of their history of cloaking women from undesirable affections, they are often thought to mean deception and denial. On the other hand, snapdragons are thought to be representative of a whimsical, gracious nature. They are also occasionally associated with strength, dignity and unique beauty. When given as a gift, these flowers may encompass either meaning, or perhaps even both – telling the recipient that you find them to be enchanting, but dangerous.

Snapdragon Flower Pictures

Poinsettia Flowers

The poinsettia flower is one of the most recognizable floral symbols of Christmas. The poinsettia, also known as the euphorbia pulcherrima, is a shrub or small tree that is native to Mexico, and can grow anywhere from 2 to 16 feet in height. These flowers are surrounded by large, toothy leaves, and are made up of bracts – a colorful, modified leaf – instead of actual petals. These blossoms may be seen in the traditional deep red, cream or white, orange or pink, light green or marbled hues. Poinsettias, which were named after the first Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, are considered very easy to keep – especially while potted and kept in the house. These plants are best kept at a temperature between 60 to 70 degrees during the day, with well drained soil and only limited fertilizer.

The poinsettia flower has an undeserved reputation of being poisonous. Although its milky white excretions may cause some minor irritation to the skin, the flower itself – and, in fact, the entire plant – has been deemed non-toxic. The poison control center of Madison has made the statement that if a small, 50 pound child was to consume these flowers, he would have to eat at least 500 bracts to begin feeling any minor sort of gastrointestinal discomfort. Aside from its ill repute, the poinsettia flower actually has a long, rich history. Although these flowers were introduced to the United States in 1825, and are now commercially grown in all 50 states, they got their meager start in Mexico. Instead of being an ornamental flower, poinsettias were used by the Aztecs as both a deep purplish red dye, and a medicine to help ease fevers. During the 16th century poinsettias began to be referred to as Noche Buena – meaning “Christmas Eve” – as these flowers then got their start as the accepted symbol for this sacred holiday.

The poinsettia flower can make for a truly unique gift. Although people most commonly present these flowers during Christmas, or simply to represent December births, some people give them because they symbolize either the traditional sense of purity, or the modern ideas of cheerfulness, mirth, celebration and success. They may also be given to those with strong religious convictions, as they are thought to be a holy symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. Poinsettias are occasionally given in bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages; however, they can most commonly be seen in their potted form – usually decorated with red or green paper and golden ribbon.

Poinsettia Flower Pictures

Petunia Flowers

Petunia flowers have become very popular in gardens around the United States. These flowers, which are low-lying annuals, are thought to be some of the easiest and most colorful garden plants around. They only require five to six hours of sunlight, well-drained soil, and only a bit of organic matter to grow successfully; beyond planting, they require very little maintenance. A member of the solanaceae family, petunia flowers contain hundreds of different varieties of blossoms – many of which are hybrids – but are frequently categorized into four separate groups. These groups are the multiflora, which are compact blossoms that grow in abundance, and mostly appear with a single head; milliflora are considered the smallest of the petunia groups and, like multifloras, grow in abundance; grandiflora – which are some of the most popular, and are frequently used in window boxes and hanging baskets – are some of the largest petunias, growing single or double heads that are roughly three to four inches in diameter; finally, there are hedgiflora – or groundcover – petunias, which are low to the ground and spread rapidly if left unchecked.

Until the late 1700s, petunia flowers were virtually unknown. In Europe during the early 1800s, however, petunias got a chance to become the beautiful, hardy plants that they are today. The appearance of the delicate white and purple flowers of some of the earliest varieties became a special project of both English and German breeders, who, after years of cross breeding, finally developed the large, colorful flowers that we see now. Given their beautiful appearance, petunia flowers have long been an inspiration to artists – the most popular, of course, being Georgia O’Keeffe. Her petunias varied in color and shape, but her most popular petunia image is that of a striking purple black flower painted over a soft pink background. Independent painters such Anita Putman, Janis Grau and Carol Phillips have also created many stunning images of this flower – some of which are realistic, still life portraits, while others take on a fantasy theme.

Petunia flowers are frequently given as gifts. This is due not only to their lovely looks, but because of the variety of ways in which they can be given, their ease of care, and their timeless symbolism. Petunias, when presented to someone, are often meant to express how soothing and comforting the giver finds the recipient to be. Although you may occasionally see petunias in traditional bouquets, many prefer to present them as potted plants, or cascading from hanging baskets.

Petunia Flower Pictures

Peony Flowers

Named after the physician to the gods, Paeon, peony flowers are a genus of blossoms of about 30 species, and are the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. The majority of the peony genus consists of herbaceous perennials; however, there are at least 10 species that are considered to be woody shrubs. The blossoms are large and fragrant, with bright green, lobed compound leaves. These flowers are best known for their soft pink hues, but they may also be seen in red and white, and hybrid colors of burgundy, yellow and coral. Peonies are one of the most frequently planted garden flowers all throughout North America; however, they are mostly native to Asia, Europe and western regions of the United States. Most peonies grow best in full sun with well drained, well fertilized soil, and may be planted as early as the first few weeks of autumn, thus giving them time to establish themselves in their new environment.

Peony flowers are frequently used as ornamental plants and as the subject of a good deal of art – from ancient Chinese watercolor paintings, to modern day body art. This is not surprising, as peonies have a long history in legends and folklore. The most commonly accepted myth is that of Paeon who, although he later became the physiciann of gods, was initially the student of Asclepius who became jealous of Paeon’s abilities. To save Paeon from the anger of Asclepius, Zeus intervened and turned Paeon into a peony flower. A variation of this myth states that a lovely wood nymph called Paeonia was well loved by the gods, so the jealous goddess Venus transformed her into a delicate, blushing peony flower. Peony flowers also have a large part in folk medicine. The idea of peonies as a sort of medicine began during the Middle Ages, when madmen were covered with peony petals and leaves, as the oils were thought to have a soothing, curative effect. All throughout history, though, all parts of the peony have been thought to do everything from easing the pain of childbirth to curing jaundice. Although these plants have long been used for their wide variety of medicinal uses, people are still urged to take precaution, as these flowers, when taken in large doses, are considered poisonous to consume.

In the Language of Flowers, peonies were said to represent bashfulness or even shame. However, today, peony flowers are considered a more luscious symbol of romance, and are thought to be a good omen for happy, prosperous unions. As a gift, these flowers may be given for a variety of reasons – to wish someone a happy life with their new spouse or to celebrate a 12th wedding anniversary. They may represent a wish for the recipient to receive endless love or endless wealth and esteem.

Peony Flower Pictures

Marigold Flowers

The marigold flower is known as two separate genera – tagetes and calendula, which contain between 63 and 71 species collectively. Tagetes are native throughout the southwestern United States, Mexico and South America; calendulas are indigenous to areas of the Mediterranean and Iran. The calendula marigolds – which are called pot marigolds – are well known for their medicinal uses which range from anti-viral to anti-inflammatory. On the other hand, some species of tegates are used to repel insects, and as perfumes and flavoring agents. Marigolds are fairly delicate in appearance, but are actually very hardy annual and herbaceous perennial plants. These flowers most commonly appear in shades of orange and yellow, but you may also see them in white, red or mixed combinations.

The marigold flower has a varied history; however, it is most noted for its curative properties. During the Civil War and First World War extracts from marigolds were used to both heal wounds and prevent them from becoming infected. Today, though, these flowers are used to treat any number of skin conditions, as well as common cuts and abrasions. Marigolds are also frequently used in the culinary arts – mostly to season dishes with a spicy flavor, or to color dishes of rice. The marigold flower also has an interesting cultural history. These flowers have long been used to decorate sacred or special places like fire pits or pavilions. As well as decorating significant spaces, these plants are frequently used in Thailand and India at weddings, religious events and festivals – mostly by way of flowing decorations or garlands. Marigold garlands are also made in households all over Nepal to commemorate the Tihar festival. In Mexico, marigold flowers are often used to decorate ofrendas, and papier mache and ceramic statues, as their scent is thought to draw back the souls of the dead.

The marigold flower is rife with a variety of symbolism. To start, these flowers are called “the flower of the sun” and are representative of passion, warmth and creativity. To others, this flower is a symbol of comfort and contentment with simplicity. As a gift, marigolds may be a great expression of either warm or fiercely passionate love, or a simple way of saying that you feel happy and comfortable with the recipient. These flowers are sometimes given in themed gift baskets, but they are most commonly used in vibrant bouquets.

Marigold Flower Pictures

Magnolia Flowers

The magnolia flower – which is a genus of the magnoliaceae subfamily, magnolioideae – is considered an ancient genus, some species dating as far back as 20 million years. As an evolutionary throwback, undifferentiated tepals replace the more common petal or sepal arrangements. The actual flower heads can range in size from 3 to 12 inches in diameter, and may be seen in the recognizable creamy white, as well as pink and purple, and the more uncommon shades of red and yellow. Some species of this flower – of which there are at least 210 – give off a lovely, citrusy scent, and all produce red or pink seeds that appear in early fall.

The magnolia flower is often connected with regions of the Southern United States. This is understandable as this plant has inspired a good deal of Southern inspired films – such as Steel Magnolias, events like the Magnolia Blossom festival in Arkansas, and pageantry like the annual Miss Gardendale Magnolia Festival; the magnolia grandiflora is also the state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi. Although these plants are considered ancient, its name and modern cultivation has a more recent history. In 1703 French botanist Charles Plumier named a species of blossoming trees that he found in the isle of Martinique – which was at one point referred to as talauma – Magnolia, after another prominent botanist, Pierre Magnol. Modern magnolias were first established by horticulturists George Forrest and Ernest Wilson of the United Kingdom. George Forrest was sent out to find a variety of new plants, and in 1904 he brought back – amongst others – a few species of Magnolia. Ernest Wilson, on the other hand, collected at least eight brand new species during the early 20th century that are still in heavy use today – some of which include magnolia biondii and magnolia dawsoniana. The magnolia flower may also have some medicinal uses. The bark is known to aid in easing anxiety, as well as helping in reducing allergies and asthmatic issues; however, the flowers themselves are sometimes used in Chinese herbalism to treat respiratory ailments.

As gifts, the magnolia flower is frequently given as small trinkets – flower shaped candles, ceramic pieces and paintings. However, the fresh blossoms make wonderful presents as they are often used to represent a love of nature, sweetness, nobility and perseverance. Most people prefer to give the fresh flower within an arrangement, but these blossoms may also be presented by themselves or in the form of dried or fresh wreaths.

Magnolia Flower Pictures