Tracing the origins of flowers around the world

Author: Arun Raghav

Our mother Earth is full of various types of flora and fauna that has been existing on this planet for a long time. When we talk about the flowering plants, there are believed to be present on this “Blue Planet” for around 160 million years ago. The true emergence of these angiosperms from their ancestor gymnosperm ferns is not exposed clearly but it is believed that this transformation happened around some 200 million years ago. At present, it is said that around 300,000 species of flowers are existing in this 21st century.

With so much of flower varieties present around, it is difficult to trace the origins of the entire family of flowering plants in detail. However, with this blog, various popular flowers and their origins are revealed. Take a quick look into the same below.

RosesRoses- The earliest known cultivation of roses were found in Asian gardens for more than 5000 years ago. Confucius, the Chinese scholar mentioned in his book that the Emperor of China during his lifetime (551 – 479 B.C.) has around 600 books on the culture of roses. The flowers are related to the family of apples, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pears, almonds and nectarines.

Roses are often linked with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and symbolizes love and beauty. Red roses are one of the most popular flower on Valentine’s Day to express love emotions by the couples. The berry like fruit structure of the rose also known as rose hips are a rich source of Vitamin C. Certain species of roses are known to cure stomach problems as per ancient Chinese herbal medicine. The flower is also used to prepare jams, jellies and for brewing tea.

Lily FlowerLilies- Lilies are linked with various myths and the pictures of lilies were known to have discovered in a villa of Crete which dates back to the Minoan Period around 1580 B.C. The flower is also mentioned in the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible.

The oldest lilies, known as Madonna lily, is said to be around 3000 years old and was dedicated to the Mother Mary by the Roman Catholic Church. It can withstand adverse conditions like pests, diseases and frost. Madonna lily was used in the 17th century for the treatment of snake bites, wounds, bruises and sore muscles due to their special flowers and leaves.   

The flower got its name from the Greek root “Lirion” which means “True, white”. Lilies are known to represent chastity, fertility and virtue. As per the Greek marriage traditions, brides used to wear a crown made up of lilies and wheat that signifies purity and abundance.      

CarnationsCarnations- The scientific name of the flower is “Dianthus caryophyllus” which means “flower of the Gods”. The name is believed to be derived from the word “corone” which refers to “floral garland” and is also the national flower of Spain. It is believed to have originated from the tears of Mother Mary when Jesus Christ was getting crucified. The flower is known to be widely given for occasions like Mother’s Day and Christmas. Carnations are available in a variety of colours that range from white to red for expressing different types of emotions. While Red Carnations symbolizes deep love, white refers to the pure love and yellow represents the dejection.

In countries like France and francophone cultures, the flower is known to bring bad luck and misfortune.

Daisies FlowersDaisies- The flowers are believed to have existed more than 4000 years ago and represents innocence. Daisy is a “two in one” flower that comes with white petals peripherally and a tiny yellow disc petals that resembles the eye of the flower. The flower is known for its medicinal properties and cures various problems like indigestion, easing of cough, slowing down the bleeding and relaxation in back pain.

They are resistant to various bugs and pesticides which makes them survive in harsh conditions easily. Daisies are also known as “day’s eyes” because certain daisies open their petals during daytime and close them in the evening at the time of sunset.

TulipsTulips- The flower is believed to have grown 1000 years ago in the area of Persia (modern Iran). Tulips are known to have got their names from the Turkish word for turbans. It symbolizes immortality, life, imagination and love. The flower has a short life span that consists of only 3 to 7 days only. Several Persian poets described them in their writings so much that the entire Europe began to consider tulips as the symbol of Ottoman Empire. They became a prized possession in 1630s and a term called “Tulip mania” came into existence as people were spending madly to have these blooms.

Tulip bulbs became more costly than the gold in Holland and were treated as a form of currency. In countries like Russia, red tulips were known to represent romantic love whereas the blackish centre of red tulip symbolizes the coal burnt heart of the lover due to the passionate love. These tulip bulbs can also be used as an alternative to onions in many recipes. The flower also grows at a rate of 1 inch per day even after they are cut from the main plant.

sunflowersSunflowers- The flower originated in the Central and South America. Sunflowers are also known as “Helianthus” in scientific terms. It was used as a spiritual symbol for Church because of its unique property of responding to sun’s movement, which is known as heliotropism. Sunflowers are capable to remove toxic elements from the soil such as arsenic, lead and uranium. The flower was used to remove the toxics like cesium-137 and strontium -90 from a nearby pond after The Chernobyl disaster. Sunflower oil is actively used for cooking while the seeds are used as snacks.

Although, there are lots of flower varieties present around but these are some of the most popular flowering plants around the world. Thus, it can be understood that flowers have existed alongside the humans since a long time and are used for a variety of purposes. You can also use flowers as birthday gifts, marriage anniversary gifts, farewell gifts or any other occasions as they spread happiness, beauty and fragrance all around.