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MEANINGS & LEGENDS OF FLOWERS (I)
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L.
Common Names: ~Crystal Ice Plant~
The genus name, Mesembryanthemum, was originally named ~Mesembrianthemum~ from ~mesembria~, meaning ~mid-day,~ because the flowers opened only in the sun, but when night-blooming species were discovered, the spelling was changed so that the name indicated a flower with its fruit in the middle (~mesos,~meaning ~middle,~ and ~bryon,~ meaning ~fruit~). Crystallinum refers to the many ice-like bubbles on the plant. The common name is said to have arisen because it is said that even on the hottest day, the leaves are cool to the touch. Also when you cut open the foliage of these plants, the flesh is shiny and translucent like ice. ~Cryophytum~ is Greek for ~ice~ and ~plant.~
The plant was not used by the early Indians. Native to South Africa, Iceplant was advertised in American seed lists of 1881 as a desirable vegetable for boiling like spinach or for a garnish. The leaves can be used as a substitute for making pickles, and added fresh to salads.
Common Names: ~Sultana~ ~ Patient Lucy~ ~Busy Lizzie~ ~
Native to eastern Tropical Africa, Impatiens, so named because the seed capsule erupts and expels the seeds while still green at the slightest touch
Claude Hope, is the man responsible for its popularity. It was originally collected in Zanzibar in Central Africa in 1865. Originally named I. sultana in honor of the Sultan of Zanzibar, the name was revised to I. walleriana to honor Horace. The early name stuck and the common name ~Sultana~ became the popular name for the plant.
Common Names: ~Ghost Flower~ ~Corpse Plant~ ~American Iceplant~ ~Fairy-Smoke~ ~Eyebright~ ~Convulsion Root~ `Fit root~ ~Convulsion weed~
Indian Pipes are known as ~Ghosts of Summer's Woods.~ They have an eerie and unusual appreance and look like fungus. They are white, almost leafless plants bearing a single five-petaled flower that, when young, faces down. The shape of the plant resembles a clay pipe whose stem has been stuck in the earth. This albino of the flowering plant world is related to the dogwoods, heaths.
The Indian pipe is a member of the species called Monotropa uniflora, meaning ~once-turned~ and ~single-flowered.~ ~Once-turned~ refers to the fact that the flowers, which face the ground early in their life, turn straight upward once they begin producing seeds. The Indian pipe is a ~saprophyte~ (from the Greek, "rotten plant"), living on the decaying roots of other plants.
According to legend, a long time ago, before selfishness came into the world, the Cherokee people were happy sharing the hunting and fishing places with their neighbors. All this changed when Selfishness came into the world and man began to quarrel. The Cherokee Indians quarreled with tribes on the east. Finally the chiefs of several tribes met in council to try to settle the dispute. They smoked the pipe and continued to quarrel for seven days and seven nights. This displeased the Great Spirit because people are not supposed to smoke the pipe until they make peace. As he looked upon the old men with heads bowed, he decided to do something to remind people to smoke the pipe only at the time they make peace.
The Great Spirit turned the old men into greyish flowers now called ~Indian Pipes~ and he made them grow where friends and relatives had quarreled. He made the smoke hang over these mountains until all the people all over the world learn to live together in peace.
The plant can't be picked because its flesh turns black when cut or even bruised. It also oozes a clear, gelatinous substance when picked. Due to these, the Indian pipe is called ~Ghost flower,~ ~Corpse plant,~ ~American Iceplant~ and ~Fairy-smoke.~
It was used as a medicine, first by American Indians. They used it as an eye lotion which gave rise to the name, ~Eyebright.~ Americans of the last century treated spasms, fainting spells, and nervous conditions with it which gave rise to the names ~Convulsion root,~ ~Fitroot,~ and ~Convulsion weed.~
The Greek word ~Iris~ means ~rainbow.~ The flower got its name from the Greek goddess Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, who was a messenger on Mount Olympus. Iris would take messages from ~the eye of Heaven~ to earth by the arc of the rainbow. The word iris also means ~eye of heaven.~ It was the name given to the goddess, this flower, and the center of your eye. This means that each of us carries a piece of heaven with us. The iris is the symbol of Idea and Message. Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty was to take the souls of women to the Elysian fields.
The three leaves of the iris represent faith, wisdom, and valor. Iris flowers have three petals often called the ~standards~ and three outer petal-like sepals called the ~falls~. It has been a symbol of royalty and divine protection for centuries throughout the world. During the 5th Century, the iris was used for various purposes, including art, where Clovis, King of pagan Franks, created banners to illustrate royal standards for his subjects. Also, Indian and Egyptian cultures used the flower in art to depict life and resurrection.
The Fleur-de-Lis, ~a stylized Iris motif~ has symbolized France since the 13th century. It was also used by the monarchs of France to decorate their royal robes, furnishings and walls. Traditionally, it has been used to represent French royalty and is said to signify perfection, light, and life. Legend has it that an angel presented Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks, with a golden lily as a symbol of his purification upon his conversion to Christianity. Others claim that Clovis adopted the symbol when waterlilies showed him how to safely cross a river and succeed in battle. In the 12th century, King Louis VI became the first French monarch to use the fleur-de-lis on his shield. The iris found its way onto England's coat of arms ~British Royal Arms,~ after King Edward III laid claim to the French crown. English kings later used the symbol on their coats of arms to emphasize their claims to the throne of France. In the 14th century, the fleur-de-lis was often incorporated into the family insignia that was sewn on the knight's surcoat, which was worn over their coat of mail, thus the term, ~coat of arms.~ Joan of Arc carried a white banner that showed God blessing the French royal emblem, the fleur-de-lis, when she led French troops to victory over the English in support of the Dauphin, Charles VII, in his quest for the French throne.
The Roman Catholic Church ascribed the lily as the special emblem of the Virgin Mary. Due to its three petals, the fleur-de-lis has also been used to represent the Holy Trinity.
Military units, including divisions of the United States Army, have used the symbol's resemblance to a spearhead to
identify martial power and strength.
The ~Fleur-de-lys~ was originally named the ~fleur-de-Louis,~ after Louis VII, in 1147 A.D. Through time, it changed to ~fleur-de-luce~ which means ~flower of light,~ to finally be known as today's version, the ~fleur-de-lys~ which means, ~flower of the lily.~
Irises are also known as ~flags~ or ~sword flags,~ relating them to symbols of heraldry and royalty. In Japan it expresses heroism and the blue colour refers to blue blood, so irises play a key role in the Japanese spring festival for boys.
Irises are depicted in the still life paintings of the Dutch masters and Vincent van Gogh.
Originating in the Mediterranean region and southern Europe, the Iris was considered a symbol of power by the ancient Egyptians. They placed the iris on the brow of the Sphinx and on the scepters of their kings as a symbol of power. In the year 1479 B.C. in Egypt, to commemorate his victory in Syria, King Thutmose III had pictures of irises drawn on the walls of his temple.
As a sacred flower, the Iris was credited with healing powers and was used in ancient medicine. In the first century AD, the Greek physician Dioscorides recommended iris root drunk with honey, vinegar or wine for coughs, colds, indigestion and sciatica. The root of the iris is used to make fragrances, and potpourri.
Iris is the National flower of France and has been used for the insignia and emblem of France. It has a vase life of 4 to 5 days.
Common Names: ~English Ivy~
Originated in Europe, but also common in Asia. Ivy has been a symbol of eternal life in the pagan world and then came to represent new promise and eternal life in the Christian world. Ivy is more of an English Christmas green than an American one. It is a clinging plant, feminine in nature, not like the masculine holly leaf. Considered a symbol of woman, if put together with Holly (the symbol of man) at Christmas, it would bring peace in a home between a husband and wife, for the following year. Ivy stands for friendship and fidelity in marriage. It was the ancient symbol of Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry.
During the German occupation of the Channel Islands ivy berries were boiled and eaten It was used as a wash for swelling, sores, dandruff and other skin problems. In folk medicine the leaves were boiled and used to treat corns.
Flowers have a short vase life of 2 - 5 days
Ixora coccinea L.
Common Names: ~Flame Of The Wood~ ~Jungle Flame~ ~Jungle Geranium~ ~Burning Love~
Ixora is native to India and Sri Lanka. In Malaysia it's known as ~Bunga Jarum~ The word ~jarum~ meaning needle in reference to its needle shaped flowers. In Thailand it is called the ~needle flower.~
The roots of the ixoras are used for medicinal purposes.
Copyright © Pinkie D'Cruz 1998
Friday, January 16, 1998