To choose the superior amongst one of the most beautiful things that nature has to offer us is like choosing one among the five elements we are made from. Scientifically blossoms are nothing but mere flowering plants, though this definition is subdued by the sheer glory of beauty that thrives through them. For thousand of years, we have used flowers in reverence, appreciation, love, medicine and beautifying our being. No other thing can possibly be deemed befitting to accompany something as grave as the subtlety of bereavement or something as galore as the first flutter of one’s dazed heart.
Through 15 years of cognizant existence and 5 years of gratifying application I have come to second the famous quote by Henry Beecher,
“Flowers are the sweetest things that god ever made,and forgot to put a soul into.”
After making peace with myself. I managed to compile the list of ’10 most beautiful flowers’ and why they are considered so?
Plumeria comes from the family of dog bane and Indian hemp or Apocynum. The name attributes to the toxicity of this genus of the plant family. More commonly known as Frangipani, Plumeria is the native flower of Central America, Caribbean and as well as Brazil. It can grow given the tropical and sub-tropical climate and apt amount of water (the excess of which can rot the root-system and lack of which can dry it).
Plumeria has four species; Plumeria Alba, Plumeria obtuse, Plumeria pudica and Plumeria rubra. Plumeria Alba is the most fragrant of them all with white leaves and a yellow center. It managed to take over southern and south East Asia as well beyond its Caribbean nativity. Apart from its fragrance it is also edible and can be eaten as fritters while the heart of wood can be used in preparing natural laxatives. Plumeria rubra is distinct from other species of Plumeria because unlike its counterparts it ranges from red to pink in color.
What makes hydrangea an absolute beauty is that it comes from the genus of more than 70 flowering plants native to regions of Southern and Eastern Asia as well as the American continent. In fact the Faial Island of the archipelago of Azores, in the country of Portugal was rechristened as ‘The Blue Island’ due to the abundance of Hydrangea on it.
There are two types of hydrangea; the Lacecap and Mophead. The Lacecap Hydrangeas’ round, flat flower heads are subdued by its glorious similitude; the Mophead Hydrangea. In most of the hydrangea species flowers are white (H.macrophylla) but as a resultant of the Soil pH level they are grown in, the colors can be blue, pink, purple, violet and pink. While a pH level below 6 (acidic) will bring out color close to varied shades of blue, the soil with pH level beyond 6 (alkaline) will result in beautiful shades of red. And beside that you have more than 45 varieties of hydrangeas to choose from.
In 1751 when Carl Linnaeus’ favorite student Anders (Andreas) Dahl died at a young age of 38, he decided to name this beautiful native Mexican flower in his honor. Thus, a genus of Asteraceae family found in Central American and Colombian region came to be known as Dahlia. Its brethren are sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum (the next one on our list) and zinnia.
These flowers are huge; their diameter can range from 12 inch/30cm (notably button Dahlia) to an astounding 6-8 ft. / 2.4 m (Dinner Plate Dahlia). They come in varied shades of bright colors except blue. The stem of a Dahlia flower is very delicate as compared to heavy flower thus it needs extra support whilst blooming. Dahlia was officially declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963. The first medicinal usage of Dahlia is reported in Aztec history. The hollow stem was used as water pipe (one of the reasons it was also called water pipe flower) while the petals were used in epilepsy. In modern era the inulin derived from dahlia was replaced by insulin yet still it is sometimes used for tests concerning kidney functionality.
Adorably known as mums or crysanths, Chrysanthemum has been named so from the linking of two greek words chyros (gold) and anthemon (flower). It belongs to the family of Asterceae and comes in the varied shades of white, yellow and pink. These xants are native of Asian and Northeastern European countries. These intricate large flower headed plant can grow up to 50-150 cm long. The earliest mention of Chrysanthemum is dated as far back as 15thcentury in China. The Chinese place Chrysanthemum in the list of Four Gentlemen or the Four Noble Ones, which is a list of four main plants in the Chinese art tradition, the other three compared to Confucianist junzi are; the Orchid, the Bamboo and the plum blossom. Each of these flowers represent the four seasons and the Chrysanthemums represent autumn. The emperor of Japan was so fascinated by this flower that he adopted it as his official seal in eight century AD. Till date the ‘Festival of Happiness’ is celebrated for the Chrysanthemums by the Japanese.
There are over 140 varieties of Chrysanthemums mainly in Australia, China, Japan, U.S and Germany and apart from ornate purposes it can be boiled to make flavored tea. It is also used as a natural insecticide, mosquito repellent while, keeping fresh chrysanthemums indoors was proven to reduce air-pollution by NASA.
6) Water lily
‘Water Lily’ is a term encompassing the family of aquatic plants which have lily pads. Thus, there are three types of water lilies; Nelumbo also known as Lotus, Nuphar Lutea or the Yellow Water-Lily and Nymphaeaceae, the common water lilies.
Nelumbo: There are only two known species of this genus- Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) and Nelumbo Lutea( water-chinquapin, American lotus or the Yellow lotus). N.Lutea is found in Eastern United States, Mexico, Honduras and Greater Antilles while N.Nucifera is a native of Asia. It is also the national flower of India and Vietnam. It is sacred to the faith of Buddhism and Hinduism. Yet another species of Nelumbo was Aureavallis which unfortunately went extinct long ago.
Nuphar Lutea: is the native of temperate region of Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. They are used as a symbol on the flag of Frisia or Friesland.
Nymphaeaceae: this is a family of more than 70 species and 8 large-flowered genera (mainly Barclaya, Euryale, Nuphar, Nymphaea, Ondinea and Victoria). The white Nymphaea Nouchali is the national flower of Bangladesh and state flower of Andhra Pradesh and the blue Nymphaea Nouchali is the national flower of Sri Lanka.
No other flower can match the symbolical importance of Water lilies.
For this particular flower I won’t even get offended if accused of partiality. It comes from the genus of Tulipa which belongs to the family of Liliaceae. There are 109 known species and the nativity seems to extend over half the world’s land mass, from Temperate to mountainous regions of Southern Europe, Anatolia in Turkey to Israel and Palestine, North Africa and Iran even the Northwest of China especially in the depth of Pamir, Hindu Kush and Tien Shan mountain range. They are observed to gain a height of mere 4 inches till 28 inches.
Tulips are originally assumed to have come from Netherlands but it was the Ottoman Empire that first commercialized it. Lale from Iran and Turkey also Macedonia as well as Bulgaria then traveled to Asia, Africa and Europe. The flower owes its name to Turkish descendant delband (“Turban” for the flowers resemble one) which was formulated as tulipan in Latin and finally Tulipa or Tulip.
What rose is to the world, Tulip is to Persia, the gift of a Red or Yellow Tulip is taken as a declaration of Love and the black center is meant to represent the heart burnt black in flaming passion. French author Alexander Dumas’ famous romance ‘the black tulip’ revolves around a black tulip, which are as significant as the black roses are to literature.
These ones are small-wonders. Dianthus is a native of Southern Europe and a few parts of Asia. It is a genus of more than 300 species which includes Sweet Williams (D. barbatus), carnations (D.caryophyllus) and Pinks (D.plumarius). The word Dianthus comes from the Greek word dios for God and anthos for flower. And many of you wouldn’t know that the color pink if actually derived from the verb ‘pink’ used to describe the peculiar edges of the plumarius species of this genus.
Sweet Williams: these grow in clusters of up to 30 individual flowers on one stem and each flower has a diameter of 2-3 cm and exactly 5 petals. The colors can range from white, pink, purple and red. There is a particular variety of Sweet William called ‘Heart Attack’ because of the reddish black cluster.
Carnations: also known as Clove pink has been in cultivation for more than 2000 years and Colombia is crowned as the largest carnation producing country in the world. These are known for their inextricable association with love and fascination. The most famous types of carnations are moondust and moonshadow.
Pink: also known as Garden pink or Wild pink is a lesser known fragrant variety of Dianthus and a type of Eurasian flora.
Magnolia is one of the largest genera, boasting of more than 200 species and a legacy of 95 million years. It is named after the famous French botanist Pierre Magnol. The genus of Magnolia is spread mainly over East and Southeast Asia and secondarily in Eastern North America, Central America, West Indies and some similar species are found in South America.
The Magnolia symbolizes sweetness, beauty and love of nature and it is often heralded as a symbol of femininity. Magnolia perfumes are some of the most preferred natural scents. In Chinese tradition the flower of Magnolia is a representation of a beautiful woman and her nobility. Magnolia is also the state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi is also called the ‘Magnolia state’ due to the abundance of these serene flowers.
When it comes to genus Asteraceae or Compositae wins hands down with 1620 different genera with more than 23,000 species. But orchid is known to have anywhere between 21,000 to 26,000 species under 800 genera. And since 19th century, horticulturalists have produced more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars of this particular genus.
The name is derived from the Greek legend Orchis, who was the son of a nymph. One day he came upon a festival of Dionysus and got wasted. In a drunken state he committed a sacrilegious act by attempting to rape a priestess of the temple. The gods as a punishment tore him apart. However, as his father begged of mercy they chose to restore him as a flower instead. Thus these flowers were originally called Orchis.
The beauty of this flower lies in the fact that it can adapt to its environment, one of the reasons why it is found almost everywhere in the world apart from glaciers. Although, two of its species were discovered above the Arctic Circle in the region of southern Patagonia thus, proving that it could have adapted to such conditions as well.
The dry seeds of Vanilla, which is a species of Orchid genus, is a universal flavor and is also used in aromatherapy. Also Orchid (see point 7) is one the four noble ones and it symbolizes spring.
Rose is synonym with ‘Love’ and been a subject of many artists and impressionists. No other flower can take this place in any ‘most beautiful flowers’ list compiled and also nothing comes as closer to a bouquet of roses. It also happens to be the only flower query that returns more than 44 million search results on the web-giant Google.
The proud and mighty rose family or Rosaceae includes 2,830 species in 95 genera. The largest is Prunus which includes 430 species (including plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and almonds) that makes it the most widely consumed and cultivated genera in the family of flowering plants. Also it is the genera with such wide varieties of edible as well as ornamental species. It’s a cosmopolitan plant that means it can be found anywhere apart from the extremities of Antarctica.
The rose family is the Sixth crop plant families and includes Raspberries, Apples, Peaches, Almonds, Apricots, Cherries, Pears and Roses. And they are also one of the highly valued ornamental shrubs including cotoneaster, Kerria, Prunus, Rosa and Sorbus.
The colors of this flower can range from white, yellow and red. This species is originally native to Asia. While some particular species trace their nativity to parts of Europe, North America and Northwest Africa. Rose is also the species most subjected to hybrids and cultivars. While most of the species are cultivated for their ornamental value, species like (Rosa glauca and Rosa rubiginosa) are cultivated for their deep scent. Rose is one of the oldest cultivated species as the first dated use is from 500BC in the regions of China and Persia. Rose hips are also used for making jams, jelly, and marmalade and for flavoring drinks. It is a good source of Vitamin-C. Rose oil is used for almost all make-up products and is used in many natural skin-treatment products. It is also being studied for its cancer growth controlling capabilities.