Friday, December 14, 2007
Flower of August; The Gladiolis
(The tiny droplets on the petals well reflected back; gifted to Chai)
Also called as the "Flower of August", the name "Gladiolus" is derived from the Latin word "gladius", meaning "sword", for the shape of its leaves. An ancient name for the gladiolus was "xiphium," from the Greek word "xiphos", also meaning sword.
Belonging to the iris family (Iridaceae) and not primarily being Eurasian origin, this genus "Gladiolus" contains about 260 species, of which 250 are native to sub-Saharan Africa, mostly South Africa. About 10 species are native to Eurasia. There are 160 species of Gladiolus endemic in southern Africa and 76 in tropical Africa. The species vary from very small to the spectacular giant flower spikes in commerce.Sometimes called the sword lily, the most widely-used English common name for these plants is simply gladiolus (plural gladioli or gladioluses).
These attractive, perennial herbs are semihardy in temperate climates. They grow from rounded, symmetrical corms, that are enveloped in several layers of brownish, fibrous tunics.
The gladiolus flower is the birth flower for August; it also represented the Roman gladiators. Before the African gladioli became popular in the West, the Mediterranean and British gladiolus flowers were used to treat physical ailments. The English used the gladiolus flower's stem base (corms) as a poultice and for drawing out thorns and splinters; powdered corms mixed with goat's milk was commonly used to soothe the symptoms of colic.
The gladiolus flower signifies remembrance.
It also expresses infatuation, telling the receiver that he or she "pierces the heart."
These flowers are variously colored, pink to reddish or light purple with white, contrasting markings, or white to cream or orange to red.
Primarily the South African species were originally pollinated by long-tongued anthrophorine bees, but some changes in the pollination system have occurred, allowing pollination by sunbirds, noctuid and sphingid moths, long-tongued flies and several others.
Gladioli are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Large Yellow Underwing.
Gladioli have been extensively hybridized and a wide range of ornamental flower colours are available from the many varieties. The main hybrid groups have been obtained by crossing between four or five species, followed by selection: Grandiflorus, Primulines and Nanus. They make very good cut flowers. However, due to their height, the cultivated forms frequently tend to fall over in the wind if left on the plant.