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MEANINGS & LEGENDS OF FLOWERS (A)
Common names: ~Lily of the Nile~ ~Blue African Lily ~ ~African Lily~
Agapanthus originates from South Africa. The scientific name refers to the Greek word ~agape~ for ~love~ and ~anthos~ for ~ flower.~
The lily-like florets clustered on a long, thick leafless stem are available year-round in purple and white.
Agapanthus is sensitive to the presence of ethylene gas. This flower should be kept away from naturally occurring gas, i.e. ripening fruit.
Agave americana L.
Common Names: ~Century Plant ~ ~West Indian Daggerlog ~ ~Rattlesnake-master~ ~False Aloe~ ~American Aloe~ ~Aloe~ ~Spiked Aloe~ ~Flowering Aloe~ ~American Agave~ ~American Century~ ~Miracle of Nature~ ~Maguey~
Grows in the arid and semi-arid regions of tropical America and in some parts of Europe. Agave is considered to be the ~Mexican Tree of Life and Abundance,~ because the people of that region have had so many uses for it. Its popular name ~Century Plant~ comes from the mistaken notion that it blooms only once in a hundred years. The time of blooming depends upon the plant's vigor and the conditions under which it grows. In warm countries flowers appear in a few years. In colder climates it requires from 40 to 60 years. After blooming once, the plant dies.
The sap has disinfectant properties. Water in which century plant fiber has been soaked for a day can be used as a tonic for falling hair. The Aztecs made paper from the leaves, and the leaf fibers were made into strong thread. The leaf, when dried, can be smoked like tobacco. An extract of the leaves, made into a ball, lathers like soap. The leaf thorns can be used for pins and needles. The dried flower stems can be used to make a thatch that is impervious to water. The flower stem is fermented to make a wine called Pulque which is a popular alcoholic drink in Northern Mexico. The leaves were also used medicinally by Indians of the Southwestern United States and this plant is also a modern source of steroids.
It is the National Flower of Antigua.
Family: Apocynaceae Juss.
Hawaiian name: ~Lani Ali'i ~
Malay Names: ~Akar Chempaka Hutan~ ~ Bunga Akar Kuning~
Common Names: ~Golden Trumpet~ ~Yellow Allamanda~ ~Common Allamanda~ ~Yellow Trumpet Vine~ ~Golden Allamanda~ ~Golden Cup~
Alamanda means ~Heavenly Chief.~ It is a showy climbing shrub which bears bright yellow tubular flowers with spreading lobes. The name Allamanda comes from Dr. F. Allamanda, a professor of natural history in Leyden in the latter part of the 18th Century.
Allamanda is native to Brazil. All allamandas are very poisonous if ingested. In Suriname's traditional medicine the roots are used against jaundice, complications with malaria and enlarged spleen. The flowers are used as a laxative. It has also an antibiotic action against Staphylococcus.
Common names: ~Lily of the Desert~ ~Plant of Immortality~ ~Medicine Plant~ ~Burn Plant~ ~First-aid plant~ ~Miracle Plant~ ~Single Bible~ and ~Quinine Leaf~ ~Barbados~ ~Aloe Barbados~ ~Curacao Aloe~
Sanskrit Name: ~ Kumari~
Chinese Name : ~Lu hui~
Aloe, is native to Africa, and derived it's name from the Arabic word ~alloeh~ meaning ~bitter~ because of the bitter liquid found in the leaves. In Latin, its meaning ~true aloe~ is considered to be ~the most effective healer. ~ It originated in the Cape Verde islands but according to early historical records, it appeared in Egypt, Arabia,
and India. Aloe reached the West Indies in the 16th century and is widely cultivated there.
First documented by the Mesopotamians in 1750 B.C., and later by the Egyptians ~550 B.C.~ and the Greeks, aloe vera has been used to treat everything from constipation to minor cuts and burns.
Ancient Assyrians used Aloe vera as a drink. In 1500 B.C. Egyptians recorded its use in treating burns, infections and parasites. The Egyptians, Chaldeans and Hebrews valued the juice of the aloe as a precious and holy medicine. Both Cleopatra and the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti used aloe to preserve their skins against the Egyptian sun. The Egyptians were also believed to have used the aloe plant in their embalming process.
In the Bible, Aloe is mentioned 5 times; ~Numbers 24:6,~ ~John 19:39,~ ~Proverbs 7:17,~ ~Psalm 45:8~ and ~Song of Solomon 4:13-14.~ Ancient Greeks, Arabs and Spaniards have used it throughout the ages. African hunters still rub the gel on their bodies to reduce perspiration. Aristotle persuaded his mentor, Alexander the Great, to conquer the island of Socroto off the East Coast of Africa, for the sole purpose of obtaining sufficient amount of Aloe to maintain his army medical stores. This was the primary medicine used to heal the wounds of his soldiers.
Missionaries who followed Columbus to the New World, documented their work with many references to the healing properties of Aloe Vera. Those same records document the widespread use of Aloe by the ancient peoples of Mexico, Central and South America.
Aloe is said to have the powers luck and protection. It is believed that an aloe plant in the home is known to guard against evil influences and prevent household accidents. It also brings good luck.
The plant is about 96% water. As a food supplement, aloe is said to help digestion, aid in blood and lymphatic circulation, as well as kidney, liver and gall bladder functions. Aloe can aid in keeping the skin supple, and has been used in the control of acne and eczema. It can relieve itching due to insect bites and allergies.
The leaves contain a special gel that is used in cosmetics and skin creams. The clear gel has an ability to heal wounds, ulcers and burns. It was known to Greeks and Romans, who also used the gel for wounds. One blade of aloe can be used for weeks. The severed end of the blade is self healing. The juice is bitter and extracted for medicinal use.
Aloe was a favorite purgative during the Middle Ages. In China, similar uses developed to those in the West, although only the gel is used; in India, the gel is a highly regarded cooling tonic. In the East Indies, aloes are used as a varnish, to preserve wood from worms and other insects. Aloes are used for preserving ships from worms and the adhesion of barnacles.
Aloe has been used at least 2,000 years by the Chinese, who call aloe vera ~Lu Hui.~ The juice of aloes was formerly used in Eastern countries in embalming and to preserve dead bodies from putrefaction.
Amaranthus hypochondriacus L.
Common Names ~Red Cock's Comb~ ~Lady Bleeding~ ~Love-lies bleeding~ ~Prince's Feathers~ ~Flower Gentle~
~Flower Velour~ ~ ~Pilewort~ ~Prince's Feather~ ~Spleen Amaranth~ ~Velvet flower ~
Amaranth comes from the Greek word meaning ~never-fading flower.~ The garden flower globe amaranth is not related to this plant.
Amaranth is believed to have been a staple in the diet of pre-Columbian Aztecs, who thought that it gave them supernatural powers and incorporated it into their religious ceremonies.
After conquering Montezuma in 1519, the Spanish forbade its use and Amaranths have been introduced only recently to contemporary cuisine. Amaranth is grown for its leaves, which are used in salads. The seeds are tiny, golden, and round. They can be sprouted, popped, toasted, or cooked to make cereal. Amaranth flour has a strong malt like vegetable taste and is beige in color.
The Greeks regarded the Amaranth flower as a symbol of immortality because it retains it's freshness for a long time after being picked. To demonstrate their belief, it was common practice to spread the flowers over graves.
The ash of amaranth has a very large salt peter content. Some species of amaranth are known as ~Pigweed.~ None of the species are poisonous and many are used as pot herbs.
Hippeastrum spp: Amaryllis spp.
Common names: ~Dutch Amaryllis~ ~South African Amaryllis~ ~Oxblood Lily~ (red varieties)
Two different bulbs are called ~Amaryllis.~ Related, both are from the tropics and sub-tropics; both have stalks of large, trumpet-shaped flowers. However, they are different and have differing cultural requirements.
Amaryllis means ~horseman star. ~ It is a tender, flowering bulb, originally from the Andes Mountains of Chile and Peru. The plant was named after a shepherdess in Greek mythology. The word also means ~sparkling~ and refers to the attractive bloom.
Amaryllis was discovered in 1828 by Eduard Frederich Poeppig, a young physician from Leipzig, on a plant hunting expedition in Chile.
It is associated with the star sign Aries, being passionate, enthusiastic and adventurous. Amaryllis means splendid beauty or pride in the language of flowers.
Common names: ~Windflower~ ~Smell Fox~
Anemone is originally derived from the Greek word ~ánemos~ meaning ~wind~ hence the name windflower. It belongs to the buttercup family.
According to other Greek myths, Anemone was the name of a nymph that Zephyr, the sweet Spring wind, and Borea, the god of the West Wind were in love with. Chloris, the goddess of flowers, took revenge on the nymph and turned her into a flower which withered by the time Zephyr arrived. Yet another legend says, that anemones came from Venus's tears when she was weeping for Adonis. The story goes that Aphrodite, being in love with Adonis, kept him longer by her side, than what was allowed by the Gods, thus triggering the vengeance of Persephone. While weeping for his death, Aphrodite swore he will live for ever and the beautiful flower Anemone, is born out of her tears.
In Palestine, the Anemone was thought to have grown under the cross of Jesus.
Superstitions about the anemone existed in Europe, and Egypt. Anemones were thought to carry diseases. The Egyptians believed that the Anemone as the emblem of sickness, because of the flush of colour upon the backs of the white sepals. The Chinese call it the ~Flower of Death~. In some European countries it is looked on by the peasants as a flower of ill omen. The Romans used it as a charm against fever. In Europe it was a custom to hold your breath while running through a field of anemones. They believed that even the air around the anemone was poisonous. Anemones were used as charms against disease. They were often worn around the neck or arm. Englishmen once believed that the anemone possessed magical properties. They recommended everyone gather in the earliest anemone they saw, and keep it as a charm against pestilence. It was carefully wrapped in silk and carried as an amulet or charm about the person.
Greek legends say that Anemos, the Wind, sends his namesakes the Anemones, in the earliest spring days as the heralds of his coming. Pliny affirmed that they only open when the wind blows, hence the name ~Windflower.~ The old herbalists called the ~Wood Anemone~ the ~Wood Crowfoot,~ because its leaves resemble in shape those of some species of Crowfoot.
Common Names: ~Angel Plant~ ~Holy Ghost Root~ ~Herb of the Angels~ ~Herb of the Holy Ghost~ ~Amara Aromatica~
~American Angelica~ ~Archangel~ ~Archangelica~ ~Bellyache Root~ ~Dead Nettle~ ~European Wild Angelica~ ~Garden Angelica~ ~Goutweed~ ~High Angelica~ ~Holy Herb~ ~Masterwort~ ~Purple Angelica~ ~Purplestem Angelica~ ~Wild Angelica~ ~Wild Celery~
According to legend, Angelica was a gift to mankind from the Archangel Michael, as it is said to bloom on his feast day ~May 8 ~ and to have angelic healing virtues. It is associated with the spring-time festival of the Annunciation and the Archangel Gabriel, as well as the Archangel Raphael.
All parts of the plant were believed efficacious against spells and enchantment. It was held in such high esteem that it was called ~The Root of the Holy Ghost~ in Germany, and was believed to eliminate the effects of intoxication and also to render witchcraft and the evil eye harmless. In England, where it was also known as bellyache root, dried angelica roots were made into powder and mixed into wine to ~abate the rage of lust in young persons.~
This herb's angelic name comes from a legend in which an angel appeared to a monk during the 14th century plague and told him about the healthy properties of this plant. Angelica wasn't believed to cure the plague but protect against it; a piece of root was held in the mouth as an antiseptic. Used medicinally since the Middle Ages, angelica is said to have protected entire villages during the plague.
The plant yields an essential oil used for perfume. It's leaves are used for herbal tea, to decorate food and for poaching fish. The leaves or stems are candied and used as a confection. Blanched stalks are edible and used for making jam. Seeds are used in candy and cooking.
It strengthens the heart and stimulates the immune system. Chinese medicine uses at least ten varieties of angelica. Chinese and Tibetan medicine make use of talismans. Angelica leaves, whose fragrance is said to smell like that of an angel's, is what gives the plant its name. It protects one against witchcraft when worn on the body, carried, or placed about the house. It was common practice to put a leaf in the crib or under the mattress or pillow. Traditionally, Angelica was planted at all four corners of a house to ward off disasters and pestilence; lightning, witches, spells, evil spirits and evil of all kinds.
In old-world Latvia, peasants would march into town with armloads of this herb and suddenly burst into song in languages that no one, not even the singers, understood. Angelica was unknown to the ancients.
Around 1665 the King, who was also an herbalist, made a potion, or a tea, using the angelica herb, nutmeg, treacle and other herbs, which the physicians of London called ~The King Majesty's Excellent Recipe for the plague.~ They used this recipe for a number of diseases. By the 17th century, Culpeper, the astrologer-physician, pronounced Angelica an ~Herb of the Sun in Leo~ to be gathered then, for most effective use.
American Indians used angelica medicinally. It is a traditional ritual herb of the Candlemas and Beltane Sabbath. Angelica is ruled by the Sun and Leo. Another source claims Angelica is ruled by Saturn and associated with the metal lead, the stones onyx and lodestone, and with the animals; mole and lapwing.
Dream Pillow - good for stress, nightmares, insomnia; Make a pillow and in it put angelica along with your favorite dried flowers or herbs; It will give a pleasant, relaxing sleep. Angelica stands for magic and poetic inspiration. In the Language of Flowers it symbolizes Inspiration.
Hawaiian name: Nana-honua
Common name: ~Angels' Trumpet~ ~Floripondio Tree~ ~Jimson Weed~ ~Thorn Apple~ ~Toloache~ ~Tolguacha~ ~Datura~
Datura is native to Brazil. There about 20 different species. The Hawaiian Name of this flower, Nana-honua, means ~earth gazing.~ Angel's Trumpet is an ornamental tree which bears long, white, or salmon, bell shaped flowers that resemble heavenly trumpets. The sap is highly poisonous and will cause eye injury.
Datura has been used for a very long time. Originally, it was used by the shamans, to help them gain entrance to ~other worlds of existance.~ People discovered its medicinal properties through shamans, or ~Medicine Men.~
This plant is poisonous but the natives in Brazil smoke the leaves for a strong narcotic affect said to relieve asthma. The leaves are sometimes smoked. Other parts are brewed in hot water. In the Andes small amounts of seed are pulverized and added to beverages. The Hawaiians smoked the leaves as a hallucinogenic. The seeds cause mental confusion and delirium followed by fitful sleep with colorful hallucinations. This species is more toxic than Datura inoxia. Excessive amounts may cause amnesia. An infusion is given orally or rectally in adolescent ritual among some western Amazon tribes.
Family: Araceae (Arum family)
Commn Names: ~Heart of Hawaii~ ~Painted Tongue~ ~Flamingo Flower~
Anthuriums have become one of the signature flowers of Hawaii. They were brought to Hawaii from Colombia via London in 1889 by an English missionary S.M. Damon.
In Greek, it means ~tail flower,~ ~anthus~ meaning ~flower,~ and ~oura~ meaning ~tail. ~ It is also known as the ~painted tongue.~
Anthurium is a native of Colombia, and belongs to the family Araceae which includes more than 100 genera and about 1500 species, mainly from the tropics.
Anthuriums are known for their long vase life. Depending on the variety and season, it can retain its freshness for up to 45 days.
Common Names: ~Starwort~ ~Michaelmas Daisy~
In Latin ~aster~ means ~star,~ the name also used by the Greeks for for its star-like blossoms, while ~wort~ means ~root~ which signified plants with healing properties. There are over 600 species of aster, the most popular being the Monte Casino. Considered sacred to Roman and Greek deities, asters are ancient wildflowers of the daisy family.
According to one legend, the field bloomed with asters when Virgo scattered stardust on the earth. The other claimed that the Goddess Asterea began to cry when she looked down upon the earth and saw no stars. The asters bloomed where her tears fell.
Known as ~Eye of Christ~ in France and ~Starwort~ in England and Germany, asters were thought to carry magical powers. The early English name ~Starwort~ was later changed to ~Michaelmas Daisy~ as it blooms around St. Michaelmas Day in September.
It was sacred to the gods and so wreaths of asters were placed on their altars. Aster leaves were burned to keep away evil spirits and drive away serpents in ancient Greece. The bite from a mad dog was cured by an ointment made from asters. Virgil wrote that the flavor of honey would be improved if asters were boiled in wine and placed near a beehive. One ancient myth arises from the Iron Age, when people learned to make weapons of iron, the god Jupiter, was angered by all the fighting wiith these iron weapons that he decided to destroy the entire race by a flood. The gods fled the earth and the last to go, the goddess Astraea, was so saddened that she asked to be turned into a star. When the flood waters receded, all that was left was mud and slime. Astraea felt so sorry for them she wept, her tears falling as stardust which turned to lovely starflowers or asters.
Another myth comes from Greek mythology. Every year Aegeus, king of Athens, would send seven young men and seven maidens to the king of Crete. There they would be sacrificed to the Minotaur, a creature with a bull's body and human head. One year Aegeus' son Theseus volunteered to be one of the youth, believing he could slay the Minotaur. When he sailed for Crete he told his father, who dearly loved his son, that when he returned he would fly white sails on the ship instead of the black ones that were raised when the ship left. Theseus did arrive at Crete, where he fell in love with the king¹s daughter Ariadne. With her help, he entered the labyrinth and killed the Minotaur. However, on his return to Athens, Theseus forgot to hoist the white sails. Seeing the black sails his father, believing his son had been killed, then killed himself. Purple asters sprang up from the ground where his blood flowed, the result of a spell put on him by sorceress Medea, who had been once been his wife.
According to the Cherokee Indian legend, two warring tribes, fighting over a choice hunting ground, waged war over a hill, down a valley and into a village. All the villagers were killed except for two sisters who hid in the woods. Both wore doe skin dresses, one dyed lavender-blue with fringe, the other one bright yellow. The sisters sought out the Herb Woman who lived over the mountain in another valley. This woman gathered herbs by day and brewed magic potions by night, a gift given to her by the gods. As the sisters slept that night under the stars, the Herb Woman looked into the future and saw that these little girls would be hunted down by the enemy. So she sprinkled them with a magic brew and covered them with leaves. In the morning there were two flowers where the sisters had been. One was the lavender-blue aster, the fringe from the dress having been turned into the outer flower petals of the aster. The other flower was the yellow goldenrod.
Roman mythological legend holds that one of the dryads presiding over the forest, meadows and pastures, the nymph Belides, was responsible for the origin of this flower. While dancing on the turf at the edge of the forest with the other nymphs, Belides attracted the admiration of the deity who presided over the orchards whose name was Vertumnus. She transformed herself into the flower bellis, it's botanical name, to escape the pursuit of Vertumnus. The bellis flower is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ~daeges eage ~ ~ day's eye~ from the habit of this flower to close its petals at night and on dark rainy days.
Ancient people believed that the odour of the leaves of the aster, when burnt, drove away serpents. Asters were laid on the graves of French soldiers to symbolize afterthought and the wish that things had turned out differently.
A perfect filler flower for arrangements or bouquets, aster stands for Elegance and Daintiness. It is a talisman of Love
Flower of the month of September and the herb of the goddess Venus.
In the language of flowers asters are a symbol of Love, Faith, Wisdom, Valor Hope, Light, and Power.
Asters convey an afterthought or variety. In China, where they signify fidelity.
Flower Emblem of France
Aster Mini Rainbow
Common Names: ~Chinese~ ~ Mini Rainbow~ ~ Rainbow Aster~ ~China Asters ~
The Mini Rainbow Aster is not really an aster. These flowers were brought from Peking and introduced to America in 1806. The scientific name is derived from the Greek word ~kallos~ meaning beautiful and ~stephanus~ meaning a ~crown~ which refers to the showy, flower buds.
This native Chinese plant is popular for its mum-like blooms in deep rich colors. Like chrysathemums, it comes in a variety of flower forms, including pompon and spider-like flowers. The Chinese often planted different varieties in pots next to each other and were thought to resemble a rainbow and thus the common name Rainbow Aster.
A perfect flower for arrangements or bouquets. Flowers are suitable for pressing.
Common names: ~Peruvian Lily~ ~Ulster Mary~ ~Peruvian Princess~ ~Petite Alstroemeria~ ~Inca Lily ~
Alstroemeria is named after the Swedish botanist Baron Klas von Alstroemer. This South American flower's seeds were among many collected by Alstroemer on a trip to Spain in 1753.
Each leafy stem has a terminal cluster of delicate flowers that have three outer petals with a predominant color, and inner petal with contrasting spots. Varieties are available in a wide range of colors including pink, purple, yellow, and white. Hybrids have been developed in England and Holland.
Alstroemeria has a vase life of 14 - 21 days
Copyright © Pinkie D'Cruz 1998
Friday, January 16, 1998