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daffodil button Daffodil
Narcissus spp.
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Common Names: ~Narcissus~ ~Jonquil~

Daffodil, Narcissus and Jonquil were once separate flowers. Interbreeding and hybridizing produced more than 5,000 varieties, in 11 main categories. It was brought to Britain by the Romans, who mistakenly believed that its sap could heal wounds. Daffodil sap contains sharp crystals that prevent animals from eating the flower. The name, ~narcissus~ comes from a Greek word meaning ~to numb.~ It was given this name because if one is enclosed in a small space with the flower, the scent will induce a headache.

Narcissus the first flowers of spring, declare that spring has returned. Both the Greeks and Egyptians related the flower with death. The Egyptians often hung wreaths of narcissus during funerals. In medieval Europe, it was believed that if a daffodil drooped when you looked at it, it was an omen of death. The Arabians used this flower as an aphrodisiac.

According to a Greek myth, a young wood nymph named Echo fell in love with Narcissus. Narcissus was bestowed with great beauty, by the gods. In order to keep his beauty and youth he was not supposed to look at his own reflection. He became so self-conceited with his beauty that he did not bother about Echo, who was consumed by love, until all that was left of her was her voice. The goddess Nemesis led the vain Narcissus to a shimmering lake. There, he looked at his reflection and faded. The gods, however, thinking that Nemesis was too harsh, decided to change his sentence by turning him into a flower, the Narcissus

Poultry keepers thought the flower was unlucky and would not allow it in the home as they believed it would stop their poultry laying eggs or the eggs hatching. A superstition in Maine, states that you will cause a daffodil not bloom if you point at it with an index finger. Chinese Feng Shui however, believes the flower brings good luck for the next twelve months if forced to bloom during the New Year.

It is the national flower of Wales because it blooms on 1st March, the feast day of the patron saint of Wales, St. David. Prince Charles is paid one Daffodil annually as rent for the unattended lands of Scilly. The local Environmental Trust is responsible for the payment. The daffodil is the American Cancer Society's symbol of hope that a cure for cancer will be found. They believe it symbolises new hope and life.
Daffodils have a short vase-life of 4 - 8 days.
Flower of March
Flower of Easter
Symbolises ~Unreturned Love~ and stands for Vanity and Egoism. In psychoanalysis, narcissism is excessive self-love.
*See Jonquil

dahlia button Dahlia
Dahlia spp.
Family: Asteraceae
Common Names: ~Bishop of Llandaff~

Dahlias are named after Dr. Anders Dahl, a Swedish botanist and a pupil of Linnaeus. Unitl recently they were also called ~Georginas~ after the botanist Johann Georgi of Petersburg. The name is still used in eastern Europe. The history of their introduction is confusing. Spanish invaders sent them home to the Old World, but dahlias did not, take European gardeners by storm. In the early 19th century seeds were sent to Berlin, where they were named after Dahl. When they returned to the New World, they were known as ~Mexican Georginas.~

Dahlias are native to Mexico and South America, and were first recorded by Westerners in 1615, when they were called by their Mexican name, ~acoctli.~ They disappeared from record until 1787 when a botanical expedition sent seeds back to their headquarters in Europe. Their existence was kept secret for another ten years. The Aztecs, who called Dahlias ~cocoxochitl~ and used it as a treatment for epilepsy.

The first dahlias to make their way from Mexico were in Empress Josephine's garden at Malmaison. Josephine was very protective of her dahlia collection. During that time, a good dahlia could be traded for a diamond. Fearing the rare tubers might fall into someone else's hands, she alone cared for the plants. When one of her loyal ladies-in-waiting hatched a plot to get a tuber, Josephine banished her and ordered the dahlias to be destroyed. Being weeds, dahlias soon reproduced themselves.

The scientists looked at the dahlia as a possible source of food because a disease in the early 1840's had destroyed the French potato crop. However after tasting the dahlia they gave up the idea and decided just to grow it for its beauty. Before insulin was discovered diabetics were often given a substance called Atlantic starch or diabetic sugar made from dahlia tubers.

There is story from the eighteenth century concerning love and dahlias. Sir Godfrey Webster was living in Florence with his wife when Lord Holland came to town. Lady Webster eloped with Lord Holland and in 1796 their first son was born. The love affair between the two blossomed into a long and happy marriage. From 1800 and 1805 they lived in France and in Spain where Lady Holland first saw dahlias that had reached Spain about 15 years before. She sent some home to England and it is on the strength of that shipment that she is given credit for the introduction of the dahlia into England.

Dahlia is the official flower of San Francisco.

daisybutton Daisy
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum
Family: Composite
Common Names: ~Ox-Eye Daisy~ ~Golden Marguerites~ ~Horse Gowan~ ~Butter Daisy~ ~Field Daisy~ Dun Daisy~ ~Button Daisy~ ~Horse Daisy~ ~Bull Daisy~ ~Midsummer Daisy~ ~Poorland Daisy~ ~Maudlinwort~ ~Dutch Morgan~ ~Moon Flower~ ~Moon Penny~ ~Poverty Weed~ ~White Man's Weed~ ~Herb Margaret~ Dog Blow~

A simple flower, the ox-eye daisy is complex and contradictory. Its name is not its own; daisy means ~day's eye~ in reference to a pink English flower that closes at night and opens in the sunlight. Ox-eye daisy remains open around the clock. Its scientific name, ~Chrysanthemum leucanthemum~ means ~golden white flower.~ Assyrians believed that it was intended to cure eye troubles and many prescriptions have been found with recipes on its use for eye problems. Assyrians also crushed daisies and mixed them with oil to turn grey hair, dark.

Daisies were known in the 1940's as ~Leucanthemum vulgare~, a term first used in 1778. In 1949 it was identified as Leucanthemum vulgare var. pinnatifidum, which means ~common white flower with feather-like leaves. ~ Linnaeus, who gave the plant its scientific name, said that sheep, horses and goats ate the plant, but cows and pigs avoided it. Cows have been known to eat them, but dairy farmers dislike the taste of milk from cows that have eaten daisies.

Beautiful gold hairpins, ending in a daisy like ornament, were found when the Minoan palace was excavated. They are believed to be more than four thousand years old. Five hundred years later a game board, bordered by a design of yellow and white daisies was found. Numerous daisies are to be found on ceramics in Egypt as well as elsewhere throughout the Middle East.

In Christianity, it became the plant of St. Mary Magdalen and was called the ~Maudelyn~ or ~Maudlin daisy.~ ~Flower Of Innocence,~ the daisy was feared and hated for its tendency to take over crop fields and gardens. The Scots, called them ~gools~ and appointed gool-riders to remove the daisies from wheat fields. The farmer found to have the biggest crop of gools had to pay a fine of a castrated ram.

According to an ancient Celtic legend, daisies came from the spirits of children who died at birth. To cheer up their parents, God sprinkled the flowers all over the earth. This legend is the reason why daisies have the meaning of innocence.

The ancients dedicated it to Artemis, the goddess of women. In Wales during the Middle Ages, daisies were used to cure insanity, treat smallpox, tumors, jaundice and skin disease.

The Countess of Kent practiced medicine in her home. She invented the ~Countess of Kents powder,~ with the common daisy and other expensive drugs, for malignant and pestilent diseases. It was expensive and beyond the means of common sufferers. King Henry VIII ate daisies to relieve his stomach ulcer pain.

Children used to construct something called ~white-capped old women~ out of them and also make daisy chains. English children used to pluck the flower heads, slide them onto pieces of straw, and wear them in hats. Daisies have been used in heraldry. ~Marguerite,~ the French word for daisy, is derived from a Greek word meaning ~pearl.~ Francis I called his sister Marguerite of Marguerites and she used the daisy as her device, so did Margaret of Anjou the wife of Henry IV and Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. St. Louis is said to have had a daisy engraved on a ring he wore. The ring, claimed the king, represented all that he held most dear: religion, France and his wife, Margurite.

There is an old English saying that spring has not come until you can set your foot on twelve daises. Dreaming of daisies in the spring or summer is good but if in the fall or winter it is bad luck. Everyone knows the ~he loves me, he loves me not~ rhyme with which one learns the fate of a romance by plucking a daisy's petals. Eating the roots is said to stunt a child's growth, but eating three of the blossoms after a tooth extraction means one will never have another toothache. King Henry VIII ate dishes of daisies to relieve himself from his stomach-ulcer pain. In Italy, the young leaves, though small, were eaten in salads.

The Lakeside daisy is an endangered daisy. It occurs only in the Lakeside Daisy Preserve, in the state of Ohio, USA, and only at two other sites, both in Ontario, Canada.

dandelion.gif button Dandelion
Taraxacum officinale
Family: Composite

The Dandelion is native to Southern Europe. The name comes from the French ~dent de lion~ because the pointed leaves resemble a lion's tooth. The anglicised version became ~dandelion.~

Dandelion is a well-known for it's yellow daisy-like flower. When the flower withers, a soft ball of white downy seeds are left for the wind to scatter. It is a troublesome garden weed and difficult to eradicate.

Young dandelion leaves are used in salads, vegetables and soups. Dandelion flowerheads are used make wine. The roots, dried, roasted and ground, make a delicious drink. Burdock and dandelion leaves combine to make a drink to increase the appetite. Dandelion is a tonic herb, diructic and slightly laxative when taken internally.

daphane button Daphne
Daphne spp.
Family: Thymelaeaceae
Common Names: ~Spurge Laurel~ ~February Daphne~ ~Rose Daphne~ ~Garland Flower~ ~Lady Laurel~

Found in the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan, Daphne odora was grown in Chinese gardens during the Sung period, 960-1279 AD. Its genus name ~Daphne~ is the Greek name for a ~bay tree.~

According to legend Daphane was a young beautiful nymph, daughter of the river god Peneus. She was a hunter who dedicated herself to Artemis, goddess of the hunt and refused to marry. She was pursued by many admirers but she rejected every lover, including the powerful son of Zeus, Apollo. Apollo fell in love with Daphne and when she refused his advances, he pursued her through the woods. Daphne became frightened and prayed to her father for help. Her father told her that he would protect her by transforming her into a Laurel Tree on the bank of his river ~Greek daphne.~ When Apollo came looking for Daphne her father told him that she was transformed into a Laurel tree. Apollo then took from her branches and made a wreath as a memory of her beauty and his love for her. Apollo made the laurel his sacred tree. He appropriated the laurel wreath for champions and for those who strived for excellence in their chosen fields, i.e. in the ancient Olympics Games, all the champions were crowned with Daphne.

Another version of Apollo's instant love for Daphne was the cause of a trick played by Cupid who struck Apollo with one of his golden arrows when he first saw the nymph, and her with a lead arrow when she noticed his advancement.
*See Laurel

daylily button Daylily
Common Name: ~Daylily~ ~Tawny Lily~ ~Lemon Lily~

The botanical name comes from the Greek ~hemera~ meaning ~day~ and ~kalles~meaning ~beauty~ because the flowers' beauty last only for a day, which is the reason they are also called ~Daylilies.~ The Chinese called the daylily ~husan t'sao~ meaning the ~plant of forgetfulness~ as it was supposed to allay sorrow by causing forgetfulness.

The plants were brought to Europe by traders along the silk routes from China. Daylilies were used as food and medicine in China and Japan. They were dried or pickled in salt or cooked as vegetables. The Romans used them medicinally. The young leaves when eaten are said to be intoxicating. Daylilies were a popular garden plant in North America during the colonial times but soon began to grow along roadsides.

Delphinium button Delphinium
Delphinium sp.
Family: Ranunculaceae
Common names: ~Low Larkspur~ ~Little Larkspur~ ~Montane Larkspur~ ~Lark's Heel~ ~Lark's Claw~ ~Elijah's Chariot~

Delphinium is native to Europe and Siberia. It relates to the Greek word ~Delphis~ meaning ~Dolphin~ referring to the shape of the back of the flower which resembles a Dolphin's snout but in other countries it was thought to resemble a Lark's foot and was called ~Larkspur~ ~Lark's Heel~ and ~Lark's Claw.~ It is also said that the Greeks named this flower after Delphinium Apollo, the god of the city of Delphi. Delphinium is a symbol for swiftness and lightness. The white delphinium is also called ~Elijah's Chariot.~

Delphinium originated, according to legend, during the Battle of Troy. Achilles' mother requested that her son's armor be given to the most heroic Greek Warrior. The armor was given to Ulysses, although the brave Ajax expected to be chosen, and because of his dejection, Ajax killed himself. The small blue larkspur began to grow where the blood of Ajax spilled.

Delphiniums were used by West Coast Native Americans to make blue dye and European settlers made ink from ground delphinium flowers. During the Dark Ages, the fern seed was believed to render men invisible. In medieval England, the root of the common male fern was an important ingredient in love potions. The most ancient use of the delphinium was as a strong external medicine thought to drive away scorpions by the seeds and leaves which were thought to possess great power. Ground to a powder, the seeds were used to treat a toothache. It destroyed the lice in the hair of the warriors during the American Civil War, and at the Battle of Waterloo wounds were dressed with Delphinium. The wild strains are often the cause death among cattle, as the plants are very poisonous. Delphiniums should not be used with food.

Delphinium is suitable for drying for flower arrangements.
For some beautiful pictures of delphinium go to
*See Larkspur

Dendrobium button Dendrobium Orchid
Dendrobium spp.
Family: Orchideaceae

Dendrobium orchids grow on trees and are epiphytes, which means they depend on the tree for structural support but not nutrition. The name orchid originates from the Greek ~orchis~ meaning ~testicle.~ The word ~Dendron~ means ~tree. ~

Dendrobiums are one of the largest genera of orchids, with over 1,400 species worldwide. The dendrobium orchid has for centuries symbolized love, joy, friendship, lust, greed, and wealth. It has a vase life of 7 to 10 days.

dieramapendulam button Dierama pendulum 'Album'
Dierama spp. Family: Iridaceae
Common Names: ~Hairbells~ ~Wand Flowers ~ ~Fairy Wands~

Dierama is a genus of the Iris Family with 44 species scattered from Ethiopia to the southern Cape of South Africa. The name ~Dierama~ is from the Greek word for ~funnel~ in reference to the shape of the flowers.
In South Africa they are called ~Hairbells~ because of the hair like stalks of the plants.

dill button Dill
Anethum Graveolens
Family: Umbelliferae

Dill derived it's name from old Norse ~dilla~ meaning ~to lull~ because of its soothing properites. Said to be used heavily in the Middle Ages in witchcraft and magic spells although it was also known for providing a good night's sleep if taken in tea just before bedtime. It can be used to sweeten the breath.

Dill when hung at the door protects one from harm. It is also carried in protective sachets. When placed in a cradle it protects the child. Dill seeds are used in money spells. When added to the bath is makes the bather irresistible. When dill is eaten or smelled, it stimulates lust. Dill was a popular general purpose drug in the Middle Ages. Dill water has been used for centuries as a tonic for babies with colic. It is a popular culinary herb.

dogwood button Dogwood
Cornus florida

The word ~dogwood~ comes from a custom in England to wash dogs with a concoction made from dogwood bark to cure mange.

According to legend the dogwood was the size of the oak and other forest trees. Being firm and strong, it was chosen as the timber for the cross, during the Crucifixtion of Christ. According to stories, the tree was distressed for being used for a cruel purpose, and Jesus being nailed to it sensed this and told the tree, "Because of your regret and pity for my suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross, two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the middle of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember ..."

The wood of dogwood was widely used in the textile industry and to make shuttlecocks, spools, dowels, baseball bats and shingles. Dogwood is so hard that it can even be used as a wedge to split other wood. The bark was used to make tea as a remedy for fever. According to Loudon, 1838, Arboretum Euonymus, a decoction of its leaves was used to wash dogs to free them from vermin. It was used to intoxicate fishes in Jamaica and as a tobacco additive by American Indians.

British Columbia adopted the Pacific dogwood Cornus nuttallii as its official provincial flower in 1956. During World War II, the sale of dogwood lapel pins earned money to purchase wool and other comforts for British Columbian soldiers. Dogwood blossoms are depicted on British Columbia’s coat of arms and on a flag flown by franco-Columbians, or French-speaking residents.

Dogwood ~Flowers or Trees~ are the official state flowers/trees of Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia & British Columbia.

On April 23, 1995 President and Mrs. Clinton planted a flowering dogwood on the grounds of the White House to memorialize the loss of life in the Oklahoma City Bombing.

flowerbutton Dutchman's Breeches
Dicentra spp.
Family Fumariaceae (Fumitory family)
Common Names: ~Soldier's Cap~ ~White Hearts~ ~Eardrops~ ~Monk's Head~ ~Butterfly Banners~ ~Kitten~ ~Bachelor~ ~Little Boy's Breeches~ ~Bleeding heart~ ~Squirrel Corn~ ~Turkey Corn~

Dutchman's breeches are uncommon and unusual species of wildflowers. They are known as the prettiest spring flowers. They have many folknames, the most popular being an old-fashioned name ~Boys and Girls~ which was often used by children when the Dutchman's breeches were found. The word Dicentra cucullaria, simply describes the plant as ~two-spurred~ and ~hooded.~

The plant is unpopular with farmers as cattle could suffer convulsions, even death from eating too much of the leaves. Ranchers called it ~staggerweed~ because of the effect it had on livestock. Dutchman's breeches is one of the most important love charms of the Menomini. The young swain tries to throw it at his intended and hit her with it. Another way is for him to chew the root, breathing out so that the scent will carry to her. He then circles around the girl, and when she catches the scent, she will follow him wherever he goes, even against her will.

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Copyright © Pinkie D'Cruz 1998
Friday, January 16, 1998


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