History of Flowers

By S. Johnson

  • Overview

    History of Flowers
    History of Flowers
    The history of flowers on the planet starts long before humans lived. Flowers announce spring and attract honeybees, they've been used in medicine and eaten for food. They have become part of cultural rituals, held by brides during weddings and found in gravesites like that of Iran's Shanidar cave site, where there is evidence that a Neanderthal was buried 60 to 80 thousand years ago with flowering plants.
  • Origins

    Flowering plants--angiosperms--abruptly appeared during the Cretaceous Period, over 100 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed. They have established themselves quite successfully as flowering plants are now the most prevalent plants found on land. They've been successful because of their flowers, which exist to create seeds. Just as people love the scent and color of flowers, so do insects, birds and animals. All cooperate with flowers to help them reproduce by carrying pollen and seeds. In return, flowers give food.
  • Types

    Flowers having both male and female reproductive parts are called "perfect." Flowers having one or the other are called "imperfect" or "unisexual." A plant might have some flowers with male reproductive parts--stamens--and other flowers with female parts, which are called carpels. A plant having both male and female flowers is "monoecious." A plant having only one kind of flower, either male or female, is "dioecious." Imperfect flowers are actually more evolved than perfect flowers.

  • Symbolism

    Throughout history, flowers have been used as religious, cultural and national symbols. Lotuses top columns in ancient Egyptian architecture, while the lotus is religiously significant to Hindus. In England, the House of Lancaster used the red rose as its emblem, while the House of York used the white rose. The War of the Roses was fought between the two houses for England's throne. Afterward, when marriage joined the houses, the roses were combined to make the Tudor rose.
  • Floriography

    Many cultures through history have developed flower languages that express ideas or emotions with flowers. In the East, one language used flowers as codes, their names rhyming with the words actually meant. In the West, the Greeks were the earliest to develop a flower language or floriography. The Roman version was revived in the Middle Ages, flourishing during the Victorian era. Lovers creating bouquets would feature a thorn-free red rose to say, "I felt true love at first sight."
  • Historical Facts

    There are many interesting historical facts associated with flowers, from various cultures around the world. Flowers have been cultivated in China for over 2,700 years. Even the ancient Romans cultivated roses, according to the writings of Pliny the Elder, who lived during the first century AD. More modern history sheds light on the value and importance of flowers. After tulips were introduced to Holland from the Ottoman Empire around 1600, they became wildly popular, with the prices rocketing. Bulbs became so expensive that some specimens could fetch many times the annual income of a craftsman.
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