“Carnation” is a pretty name for a pretty flower, but did you know that “carnation” is not the flower’s actual name? In fact, typing “carnation” in Wikipedia’s search engine takes you to a page entitled “Dianthus caryophyllus.” There is no entry for “carnation.”
“The scientific name of the carnation is Dianthus, which is taken from two greek words: dios, which refers to Zeus, the supreme Greek God and ruler of Olympus, and Anthos which means flower,” explains an eHow article entitled “What Is the January Birthday Flower?” “A literal translation would be “flower of the Gods” or “heavenly flower.”
The Dianthus flower became known as the carnation because it was used in ancient Greece as part of their ceremonial coronation ceremonies.
The carnation’s real name and how the flower became known as the carnation are among several fun facts that Bagoy’s Florist has uncovered about the flower that has become the widely recognized birth flower for people who were born in January. Other fun facts include:
* CARNATIONS ARE EDIBLE: They look delicious so why not eat them! Kidding aside, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture lists carnations as an edible flower in its “Edible Flowers” report, although it warns readers “some delicious-looking flowers are poisonous and can lead to serious illness or even death.” On the other hand, carnations have a bland or bitter taste.
* CARNATIONS’ COLORS CAN BE CHANGED: You probably know that carnations come in a wide variety of colors, including pink, red, white and yellow, but did you know that the color of a carnation can be changed via food coloring. White flowers can become orange, purple, or yellow, according to “Consider Carnations,” an article by the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science. “Just add a few drops to a glass of water, add the bloom, and let it absorb the new color,” wrote professor Leonard Perry.
* BOGOTA IS THE CAPITAL OF CARNATIONS: No drug jokes please, but Bogota, Colombia, produces “most” of the world’s carnations, according to Perry. Israel, Kenya, Spain, and the American states of California and Colorado also grow a lot of carnations. Oddly, the carnation is NOT the national flower of Colombia, but it is the national flower of Spain, Monaco, and Slovenia. The red carnation is one of Portugal’s five national flowers.
* STATE FLOWER HONORS PRESIDENT: Ohio is the only American state that has chosen a carnation — the scarlet carnation — as its state flower. The scarlet carnation was chosen as Ohio’s state flower as a way to honor President William McKinley shortly after he was assassinated in 1901. McKinley, who was Ohio’s governor before he became president, regularly wore a scarlet carnation on his lapel, according to Wikipedia.
* MAMIE LOVED CARNATIONS: The carnation is NOT the state flower of Colorado despite the state’s importance in producing the flower. Mamie Eisenhower, the wife of President Dwight Eisenhower, wrote a letter to the Colorado Flower Growers Association on Jan. 7, 1961, to thank the association for sending her carnations throughout the eight years (1953-1961) she lived in The White House.
* THE FRENCH LOVE CARNATIONS: The romantic French may or may not appreciate the carnation as a symbol of romance, but they definitely have found original ways to use carnations. ProFlowers reports that the French use the oil from carnations to treat hair loss, relax muscles, and help clean and protect people’s skin as an ingredient in skin cream.