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Flowers are much more than pretty faces — they have rich histories, fascinating lives, and a multitude of uses. From the dawn of civilization, flowers have been a very important part of human existence. Flowers were often a part of mythology, religions, rituals, and culture; they have served as medication, food, decoration, fragrance, and body adornment — in fact they still serve all of these purposes. As a florist, I have a wealth of knowledge about flowers, yet I discover something new quite often because there is so much to learn. I would like to share with you 19 fun and marvelous facts about flowers.
1. In 17th century Holland, tulip bulbs were worth more than gold and used as currency at times; they were the subject of famous paintings, and they are still quite popular there.
2. Although we often view it as an obnoxious weed, the dandelion and its leaves are full of vitamins A and C and have a variety of culinary and medicinal uses.
3. The flower head of the sunflower moves throughout the day, following the sun.
4. The yellow disc in the center of a daisy is actually comprised of hundreds of tiny flowers.
5. The poinsettia is actually a shrub native to Mexico, where it can grow up to 13 feet tall; it was grown by the Aztecs.
6. Broccoli is a flower.
7. The commonly grown perennial coreopsis, commonly called tickseed, got its name because pioneers put it in their mattresses to keep out ticks, fleas, and bedbugs.
8. Flowers look different to insects than they do to us; many petals have ultraviolet or infrared patterns visible only to insects that guide them to the flower’s nectar.
9. When thinking of flowers, most of us probably think of lovely, sweet-smelling blooms; however, not all flowers smell good or look pretty. The strange-looking titan arum smells like a rotting corpse.
10. The titan arum also boasts the world’s largest inflorescence, which can grow up to 8 feet.
11. The smallest flowers in the world measure 0.3 mm and belong to aquatic plants of the Wolffia genus, commonly known as duckweed.
12. The largest single flower is the Rafflesia arnoldii, a native to the Sumatran rain forests. This rare and endangered plant can reach a whopping three feet in diameter and weigh approximately 24 pounds — like the titan arum, it smells like rotting flesh.
13. Saffron is a very expensive spice and dye that is made from the stigmas of a certain type of crocus flower. It takes 75,000 crocus flowers to make a pound of saffron, and the spice can cost up to $315 an ounce.
14. The lotus flower symbolized resurrection in ancient Egypt because it can go through a very long dormancy and then seemingly awake from the dead. It is also a sacred plant in Buddhism and other religions and symbolizes spiritual awakening. These meanings along with its beauty make it a popular tattoo.
15. The perennial Dictamnus albus, commonly known as the gas plant, gets its common name because the flowers emit small amounts of flammable gas. It is rumored that on warm, still nights, the gas can be lit on fire.
16. The Scottish thistle earned its place as Scotland’s national floral emblem by hobbling Norse invaders.
17. Angel’s trumpet is a poisonous hallucinogen. Native South American tribes used it as a ritual hallucinogen and in black magic; historically, it has been used to drug slaves and wives before they were buried alive with their masters.
18. Obedient plant is a perennial with spikes of rose, purple, or white flowers that can be twisted into position on the spike; obediently, they stay as positioned.
19. Vanilla comes from the seeds of the beautiful white vanilla orchid. It is native to Mexico, where it was historically used by the Aztecs to flavor chocolate.