Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Hyacinths are spring-flowering bulbs with long, narrow leaves that are folded lengthwise. Hyacinths are highly fragrant flowers that bloom in dense clusters.
Hyacinth is the common name for approximately 30 perennial flowering plants of the genus Hyacinthus (order Liliales, family Liliaceae) of the Mediterranean region and Africa.
The common garden Hyacinth, Hyacinth orientalis, originated in Anatolia and was brought to Europe in the 16th century. The Hyacinth bulb produces a dense, compact spike of flowers, 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) tall.
Hyacinth are highly fragrant, bell-shaped flowers with reflexed petals. The waxy, densely-packed florets come in shades of white, peach, orange, salmon, yellow, pink, red, purple, lavender and blue.
The 7-8 leaves are strap shaped, and a fleshy, glossy green. The Hyacinth bulb is a light purple or cream in color and covered with dry, papery, skin-like layers.
Facts About Hyacinths
An ancient Greek legend describes the origin of the Hyacinth. Two of the gods, Apollo and Zephyr, adored a handsome young Greek called Hyakinthos. Apollo was teaching Hyakinthos the art of throwing a discus.
Zephyr, who was the god of the west wind, was overcome with jealousy and he blew the discus back. It struck Hyakinthos on the head and killed him. From his blood grew a flower, which the sun god Apollo named after him.
The word 'Hyacinth' has also surfaced in an ancient language (called 'Thracopelasgian'), which was spoken 4,000 years ago.
The wild Hyacinth is a native of Turkey and the Middle East, along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Hyacinths were grown in Europe in the time of the Greeks and Romans. Both Homer and Virgil noted the sweet fragrance.
After this, the Hyacinth faded from history, and did not reappear until the 16th century when it was reintroduced into Western Europe from Turkey and Iran. Leonhardt Rauwolf, (a German doctor) collected some Hyacinths when he visited Turkey in 1573.
Hyacinths have been cultivated commercially since the second half of the 16th century. They became very popular in 18th and early 19th century Europe.
The bulbs are now grown commercially in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In the Netherlands Hyacinths are also grown as cut flowers.
The common garden Hyacinth is cultivated to a minor extent in the Netherlands for the perfumery trade. However, most Hyacinth perfume sold is synthetic, based primarily upon phenylacetaldehyde. Hence, the Hyacinth is also called the Dutch Hyacinth.
The normal bloom time for Hyacinths is March to April.
March 7th is the World Hyacinth Day.
In the Victorian language of flowers the Hyacinth flower symbolizes sport or play, and the blue Hyacinth signifies sincerity.