Monday, August 6, 2012

The botany of carnations

Carnations are flowers which are widely recognized by most people. They are classified as Dianthus caryophyllus, when translated, means “flower of love” or “flower of the gods”. There are approximately 300 species in the genus.

 They are native to the Eastern Hemisphere and are found naturally in the Mediterranean region, although modern varieties are grown both in greenhouses and in fields around the world. With such widespread commercial production available, there is not a limited season of availability.

Because of their long lasting qualities and fragrance, carnations are often featured in arrangements at holidays celebrated with flowers, at special occasions such as weddings and parties, and in sympathy arrangements.

Essential carnation oil in its absolute form is both rare and expensive. Many varieties produce a clove-like scent, and the aroma is said to be both uplifting and motivating. Not only are people attracted by their scent, but carnations also have an extended enjoyment period of anywhere from 7 to 21 days depending on the cultivar, harvest stage and flower food.

Many of the commercially produced varieties have flowers up to 3 inches in diameter. Most flowers are double forms with ruffled petals.

To date, there are no medicinal values associated with carnations, however they have been used in candy and cocktails and to make a certain liqueur.

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