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Cineraria Flower

The cineraria flower – sometimes known at the florist’s cineraria – is a hybrid species in the pericallis genus and belongs to the vast compositae family. These plants, which are native to England, grow their best in thoroughly moistened soil and a good deal of shade. These blossoms are made up of stems covered in fine hair; large velvety leaves that can reach sizes of 6 inches in length and 4 inches in width; and 2 to 3 inch heads that have a center made up of disk flowers, and a single row of ray flowers surrounding it. What makes cineraria flowers a favorite amongst gardeners and florists is the variety of vibrant colors. These plants may be seen in shades of magenta and violet, blue, white and red; they may be variegated, uniformly bicolored, or have contrasting centers.

During the late 1700s, Francis Masson – the Scottish gardener and botanist – was sent out on a mission to collect new plants for the Royal Botanic Gardens. From this particular trip he sent home several species of senecio – a genus which, at the time, housed the cineraria – and from these species, the cineraria flower that we know today was developed. The delicate but vibrant beauty of the cineraria flower has made it a well-loved subject for a number of arts and celebrations. Photography is undoubtedly the favored medium for this particular blossom. Photographers such as Luis Correia and Margaret Barry capture the cineraria in stunning reality, while Cee Neuner and Julia Wright feature them in a more abstract manner. Although paintings of these flowers are rare, a few artists have created lovely pieces such as, “The Cineraria Flower,” by Gilbert Lam, and the 1923 painting, “Cineraria,” by Charles Demuth. As for celebration, these blossoms were officially named the theme flower for the 2010 Hong Kong Flower Show in Victoria Park, where organizations from around the world were able to show off their own exotic plant life.

Cinerarias represent delight, and when given as a gift, they are commonly meant to represent the pleasure that the giver feels simply from being around the recipient. A large bouquet filled with this particular blossom can make for a stunning, cheerful and long lasting present – living between 10 to 20 days if kept well moistened. However, if the recipient has something of a green thumb, they may prefer the potted variety.

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Fuchsia Plants

Fuchsia is a large genus which consists of roughly 110 species – as well as 3,000 cultivars – and belongs to the onagraceae family. Fuchsia plants originated in South America; however, their distribution ranges from Central America all the way to Tahiti. These plants are typically divided into two sections: trailing and upright. The trailing varieties contain long, flowing stems that end in bright flowers; the upright types – which are most common – are erect and bushy. Depending upon the species, these plants may be either evergreen or deciduous; their foliage may be either serrated or whole, whorling or opposite. Their most spectacular feature, though, are their uncanny, pendulous blossoms, which may be red and purple, purple and blue, deep red or orange.

Fuchsia plants have a long and fascinating history. Although it is unknown who truly discovered this genus, the first recorded history of its growth came about in 1703 by the French botanist and missionary, Father Charles Plumier. This first discovery was the fuchsia triphylla, and was named after Plumier’s well-regarded collegue, Leonhart Fuchs. After Charles Plumier had taken the seeds of his newly recorded fuchsia triphylla back to England, several other species were discovered and many hybrids were created from them. The popularity of fuchsia plants peaked during the Victorian era, faded slightly during World War I, and then truly came into its own during the 1950s. The influx of popularity that this plant gained during the 1950s has continued up until today. In fact, these plants are still so well loved that a large group based in Seattle, Washington – known as the Northwest Fuchsia Society – have dedicated themselves to informing professional horticulturalists, gardeners, and casual enthusiasts on all there is to know about Fuchsia plants. This group, and others like it, hold many events – from judged shows to plant sales and annual meetings.

In general, fuchsias are the symbol for confiding love. As a gift, these plants are commonly given on romantic or significant occasions to represent the trust that the giver feels in the recipient. Although fuchsias are occasionally added to bouquets for bright, elegant splashes of color, they are most often presented as potted plants – with foliage intact – or within hanging baskets.

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Feverfew Plant

The feverfew plant – which belongs to the tanacetum genus and is a member of the asteraceae family – is indigenous to Eurasia, but has an extensive distribution around the globe. This herb, which may be either perennial or biennial, is known for its ability to grow in even the worst soils, but requires a good deal of water drainage and sunlight to thrive. Feverfews are fast growers and can reach between a compact 9 inches, to a moderately tall 2 feet in height. The leaves of this plant are heavily serrated and bear a slight citrus scent – though they are notoriously bitter in flavor. They also hold small but thick flowers that are bright white and similar in appearance to daisies.

Known by at least eleven other names, the feverfew plant is one of the best loved medicinal herbs around. During the early 1990s, it was discovered that feverfew’s active ingredients – tanetin and parthenolide – were highly effective in either preventing or decreasing the release of the polymorphonuclear leukocytes that can cause inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis. These ingredients are also said to inhibit the release of prostaglandins and serotonin, which can aid in stopping a migraine before it begins. In addition to migrainess and arthritis, the feverfew plant can also help in treating fevers, rashes, dysmenorrhea and breathing conditions. Because this plant is such a potent curative, it also comes with some side effects. Herbalists urge pregnant women to avoid the herb, as it is a strong emmenagogue; it may cause digestive upset, skin irritation and withdrawal symptoms if taken over a long period of time. Despite the fact that all of the studies that have been done on this plant are more recent, the use of the feverfew plant as a medicinal agent is not modern. The ancient Greek physician, Dioscorides, favored this plant in treating a number of ailments – including headaches. Over time, its many uses were discovered by well known doctors and herbalists, and even took a small place in superstition. For example, if the name of the patient was spoken aloud while a feverfew was gathered in the left hand, the patient’s fever would soon break.

Not surprisingly, the feverfew is often meant to symbolize healing; however, it is also representative of protection. As a gift, these pretty shrubs are most commonly given as potted plants, and are usually traded between close family members – often to express a wish for the recipient to get well, or simply feel that they are being watched over.

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Croton Plant

Codiaeum variegatum – or the croton plant – is a single species within the small codiaeum genus, and belongs to the euphorbiaceae family. This species, which is sometimes known as the garden croton, is sometimes confused with large croton genus that belongs to the same clan. Native to areas of Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, these colorful evergreen shrubs grow their best in shifting sunlight and rich, acidic soil. This plant is best known for the variety of colors and shapes of its foliage, which can range from deep green and broad to a light, slender-shaped red. They may also appear in a golden yellow, orange, or dark purple; however, some varieties may be variegated or even change hue over time. These plants also contain long, dioecious racemes of inflorescences – the female blossoms being yellow and without petals, while the males have five petals, several stamens and are a bright white color.

Because of its general hardiness and ease of care, the croton plant has become one of the most well loved houseplants available. This plant is so loved, in fact, that a non-profit organization called The Croton Society holds a number of seminars, meetings and even field trips. These well-planned events are done in the hopes of educating the public about this shrub, and helping fellow gardeners grow, breed and improve upon the species. Aside from being a uniquely colorful houseplant, crotons are also thought to have some potent medicinal qualities. Although these plants are considered toxic, if ingested in small quantities while under the supervision of a qualified professional, they are said to contain a host of promising actions – from anti-fungal to purgative, antioxidant to sedative. Some studies have suggested that the croton may also be useful as an anti-amoebic, and may also help in fending off the flu virus. Traditional folk medicine in the Philippines states that the freeze-dried foliage of the croton plant can make for an excellent curative for stomach upsets; while in Vanuatu, fresh leaves are often chewed to help treat amenorrhea.

Although the croton plant in and of itself does not contain any specific symbolism, it is not hard to associate it with strength and a unique, ever-changing beauty. As a gift, these plants are frequently given to new home owners – usually as a welcome present. However, they may also be presented to someone with something of a black thumb, as these shrubs are not only lovely, but very easy to care for.

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Bloodroot Flower

The bloodroot flower is a species of herbaceous perennial that belongs to the sanguinaria genus. This genus contains only a single species and is a member of the papaveraceae family. These plants, which grow their best in rich soil and well-shaded areas, grow in abundance within Canada and eastern portions of the United States. The bloodroot flower’s name was derived from the thick red sap that seeps from the rhizome. The flower itself consists of eight to twelve white, oblong-shaped petals which surround distinctive golden yellow stamens at the center. The leaves of this flower – which are actually a single large leaf that develops at the base of the flower head – has a clasping, cape-like appearance which is used to protect the plant by closing around the head at night, and shading it when it begins to bear fruit.

Although the bloodroot flower is largely considered to be toxic, it has long been used to treat a number of ailments. Many North American tribes used this plant for a variety of reasons, from medicine to dye making. For generations, the bloodroot – which was also referred to as puccoon – has been used to create salves, poultices, pastes and powders. These concoctions are used to treat everything from oral infections, ward off the onset of gangrene, and to cure tumors, warts and polyps. In modern times, the bloodroot flower is widely thought to be a powerful anticancer agent. Although cancer patients have been treated with this plant for over 150 years, it is only recently that it has come under investigation for its long-known potential as a curative. In addition to its promising medicinal uses, the bloodroot flower is also attached to folklore and superstition. A Cherokee myth states that a tiny piece of the root should be carried at all times so as to ward off wicked spirits. On the other hand, an unmarried man of the Ponca tribe could rub the plant against his palm and hold the hand of his beloved; within the week, she would be his.

Since bloodroot flowers can cause an allergic reaction to the skin, it is not advisable to give them within a bouquet. However, as a gift, these blossoms look beautiful when presented in a decorative pot or dried and placed into a number of arrangements. As a symbol, bloodroots are thought to represent protective love, purification and healing, as well as strength and growth. As a gift, these blooms can be given to represent a wish for the recipient to get well after an illness, tell them you love them, or simply wish them the best for their life.

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Bleeding Heart Flower

Despite the fact that the rose is classically considered the ultimate floral symbol of romance, the bleeding heart flower is quickly catching up. One glance at the distinctive heart shape of these blossoms and you will understand why. Bleeding hearts belong to the small dicentra genus, which is a member of the fumariaceae family. These blossoms, which are herbaceous perennials, are native to regions of North America and eastern Asia. Bleeding hearts generally reach 2 to 3 feet in both height and width. Their thick, arching stems contain long divided leaves that are dark green with faintly red veins. The flowers themselves hang like pendants from the stems, and are made up of two small sepals; two joined and perfectly straight inner petals; and two ballooned or spurred external petals. Although dicentra spectabilis – one of the most common species of bleeding hearts – only comes in colors of white and dark pink, other species may be seen in rose, dusky lilac, or even a faint, peachy pink hue.

Because of its characteristic shape, the bleeding heart flower is at the center of many folkloric tales. One of the best known stories – which has many variations – is generally told directly through the anatomy of the plant itself. This story tells of a prince who tries to win the heart of a beautiful maiden by giving her gifts. With each gift, two of the petals are removed. Despite his attempts, the maiden continues to refuse the prince, and so he pierces himself through the heart – the heart having been formed with the discarded petals, the knife with the green stamen. The essence of the bleeding heart flower is said to open up and strengthen the heart chakra, which in turn causes a person to feel emotionally soothed and open to the possibility of new romance. It is thought to be especially useful after a heartbreak. These blossoms are also frequently used in love spells. One such spell includes braiding the flowers into your hair, lighting a white candle in honor of the goddess of love, and reciting a poem or incantation.

Although they may not be as common as other blooms, the bleeding heart flower can make a great romantic gift. These blossoms are almost exclusively considered a symbol of undying love, and are frequently given at weddings and special milestones like anniversaries or birthdays. These flowers make for a unique, stunning bouquet, but can also be given in gift baskets or as single-bud tokens of affection.

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Bindweed Flower

Convolvulus – better known as the bindweed flower – is a genus of roughly 250 plants, and is a member of the convolvulaceae family. These cosmopolitan plants, though simple in appearance, are quite varied in structure and growing habits. For instance, they may grow in woody shrubs, from vines or bines; they may be either perennial or annual. Although some species can grow out of control and become weeds that choke out other plants, most types can easily be trained and grown in gardens. The stems of the bindweed flower are very slender and flexible, and contain spiral arrangements of medium-green leaves. Much like the common morning glory – which bindweeds are closely related to – these blossoms have velvety, trumpet-like heads that may appear in muted shades of white, pink and lilac, or brighter hues of blue, purple or yellow.

Although the bindweed flower can be something of a pest at times, people are becoming increasingly aware of its usefulness. A thick, sticky resin can be derived from the milky-white juice that flows naturally through the roots. The resin is usually hardened and used as a potent purgative. The flowers themselves are also considered a very effective laxative and diuretic when made into a tea. This tea can also be used to clean damaged skin, sooth a fever, and lessen the blood flow of menorrhagia. In addition to medicinal uses, the bindweed flower has a number of other useful applications. For instance, the petals, when dried, take on a dark, delicate appearance that can easily be fit into a vintage art project; the thin vines can also be used in art projects, as they are tough enough to double as a glossy twine in floral arrangements; a natural green dye can be extracted from the entire plant; and the stalks and roots can be eaten. When eaten raw, these plants tend to have a slightly bitter aftertaste; however, when the plants and young shoots are steamed, they are said to develop a mild, sweet flavor.

As a gift, the bindweed flower is most commonly associated with family. Because of its twining habits, it is often associated with attachment; because it grows in such abundance, it is also associated with fertility. These flowers may be given in small bundles, but are most frequently presented in the form of garlands. These blossoms are usually given to mothers and fathers on special occasions, but are sometimes given as a simple, beautiful token of appreciation to the giver’s grandparents, children or even siblings.

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Beauty Bush

Kolkwitzia amabilis – which is better known as the beauty bush – is a large-growing deciduous shrub that belongs to the caprifoliaceae family. Although they are indigenous to China, these plants can now be seen growing throughout Europe and the United States – being particularly popular in eastern portions of America. These large plants generally grow between 6 and 10 feet, and are almost always as wide as they are tall. The bark is a light ashy brown and tends to flake over time. The long, arching branches bear dark green, smooth, ovate leaves that turn into bright shades of red or yellow in autumn. They also bear brilliant sprays of flowers. The blossoms are a tubular shape which flare slightly at the opening. They appear in deep, reddish pink or a more common pink that fades into a yellow hue.

The beauty bush was initially discovered growing in the Shensi province of China by an Italian missionary named Giraldi. Although the missionary sent seeds west, the plant was not grown until it was rediscovered by the well known collector, Ernest Henry Wilson. During one of his many travels, he found the plant blooming in the Hubei province and sent his seeds to the Vietch & Sons nursery in Exeter. When it finally began to grow in 1910, Wilson christened the plant Kolkwitzia after the German botanist and professor, Richard Kolkwitz. The beauty bush crept its way into the United States around the early 1920’s, and became a very popular shrub around the 1930’s. This was due not only to the spectacular splash of color that it added to a fine garden, but also because it was quite simple to care for – being mostly free of pests and diseases.

Because of its common name, it is not hard to associate the beauty bush with the symbols of attractiveness and refinement. Because of its appearance, you might also feel that this plant represents grace and dignity. As a gift, beauty bushes can be presented in a number of ways. If the recipient is an avid gardener, you may want to give them a packet of seeds or a small, young shrub that will later require transplantation. You might also consider picking the flowers and leaves to create a small bouquet that can easily represent the fascination you hold for the recipient.

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Balloon Flower

The balloon flower – which is also sometimes referred to as the Chinese bellflower – belongs to the single species genus platycodon, and is a member of the extensive campanulaceae family. These perennial plants are native to areas of East Asia, and were given their name because of their distinctively billowy buds which eventually blossom out into large bells. In general, these plants grow as tall as 3 feet; however, there are several dwarf varieties that only reach heights of 6 inches. Balloon flowers generally grow in large clumps from tidy mounds. Their leaves are toothy, narrow and leathery, and develop in stunning shades of gray or blue-green. The flower heads contain around five pointed petals that surround a star-like pistil. Balloon flowers are most commonly seen in rich blue hues, but – depending on the region – may also be seen in colors of white and pink.

Although the balloon flower is best known as an easy to grow garden plant, it is also widely used in traditional Chinese herbology. Better known in the herbalist circle as Jie-Geng, the balloon flower is best known as a powerful treatment for respiratory ailments, such as pleurisy, bronchitis and laryngitis. The use of this plant in a tea is said to assist in draining phlegm and other pollutants from the lungs and airways, and is also thought to relieve irritation of the bronchial passages and throat. Culturally, balloon flowers have certainly made their mark. Not only do they appear in literature, anime and manga, and traditional music, but they also appear in religion. In Japan, the Bureau of Taoist Geomancy has long used the balloon flower as its symbol. Better known as Kikyo – or pentagram – the five petals of this blossom are connected with the five Taoist elements – wood, water, fire, metal and earth. In Korea, this flower has become a well loved ingredient to many dishes. For instance, they may be either pickled for a savory flavor, or preserved in sugar as a sort of candy; the roots may also be stewed and placed in hot soups, while the young leaves may be picked, cleaned and eaten fresh in green salads.

In the old language of flowers, these blossoms were frequently attributed to the reuniting of old friends. In more modern times, this still holds true. As a gift, balloon flowers are commonly traded amongst friends, not only because of their symbolism, but because they are fun, fanciful and brightly colored blooms that can add a bit of cheer to anyone’s day.

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Bluebonnet Flower

Widely known as the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet flower is appropriately named for its rich blue, sunbonnet-shaped appearance. Bluebonnets are one of a few species within the lupinus genus, which belong to the fabaceae family and faboideae subfamily. Many varieties of bluebonnets are native to Southwest regions of the United States, and are well adapted to these locations, as they prefer only light moisture, and can grow beautifully in alkaline soils with few nutrients. Although the most commonly known bluebonnet – lupinus texensis – is almost exclusively seen in a deep shade of blue, other types may be seen in colors of purple, pink or off-white.

Because of its unusual beauty, the bluebonnet flower has become steeped in a good deal of myth and legend. One such legend tells of a young Native American girl named She-Who-Is-Alone. During a long and painful spell of drought, the chief of the tribe asked everyone to sacrifice an important possession to the Great Spirits, but none would. She-Who-Is-Alone was the only one to step forward and give her beloved doll – a gift from her lost parents – as a sacrifice. The Great Spirits took kindly on the small girl, and the rain finally began to fall; with it sprouted field upon field of stunning bluebonnets. The bluebonnet flower has also become a well loved subject for a number of artistic mediums. For example, “Bluebonnet” by Jairo Lopez depicts a row of the beautiful blossoms in deep blue and green mosaic tiles; “Bluebonnets at Sunrise” by Julian Onderdonk, which depicts a massive field of flowers highlighted by a bright day; and the well known song, “Blue Bonnet Blues,” where the singer expresses his longing for the state of Texas by way of describing a happy childhood spent in fields of bluebonnets. In addition to art, the bluebonnet also has a large place in cultural events. Every year in cities throughout Texas, locals gather to watch parades, eat, shop, play games and – most importantly – to view the brilliant new crops of wildflowers.

The most common symbolism for the bluebonnet flower is, of course, pride in the state of Texas. Though these blossoms may be given to celebrate state-related events, they are also given as gifts for their simple, stunning beauty. Although large bouquets filled with this blossom can make a fantastic statement, most people prefer to mix them with other flowers in complimentary shades.

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