Firstly, I just want to wish all those maternal figures we hold dear well today. May 13 is Mother's Day in the US, so if it's already passed for your region, it's coming round again with this. May the brilliant fires of creation, inspiration, and infinite beauty continue to burn brightly.
Today, we'll be talking about a flower that is often seen as the rose's discount cousin in romantic bouquets: the carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus). This flower has been part of graduations, funeral displays, and baby showers. It takes finness to grow, especially from cuttings, and has been my mom's favorite flower since she was a child. I'd always liked them, but until recently, I've always been more the dandelion and daisy sort, though roses smelled nice. When you actually look into the medicial histories though, carnations are fascinating.
While it is thought that they are Mediterranean natives, carnations have been cultivated for the last 2,000 years, so their precise origins are, as yet, unknown. In addition to visual aesthetics, the carnation has been used in aromatherapy, in food, and in herbal medicine for centuries. However, while the commonly seen carnation is highly ruffled and ornate, its wild counterpart is rather more simple, much as the wild rose still has only the plant's original five petals. Additionally, the scent and medicinal potency tends to be far stronger in these wild variants than their highly-selected counterparts. Often, this selection seems to have chosen visual appearance over substance and function. While the cultivar varieties are often seen in flower shops and news stands, their original five-petaled ancestors tend to grow in disturbed areas, such as along roadsides where the soil has been loosened.
I hope you all had/have a happy Mother's Day.