Thursday, 28 January 2016


“In your Curled petals what ghosts Of blue headlands and seas, What perfumed immortal breath sighing Of Greece.” AdelaideCrapsey

Hyacinthus is a small genus of bulbous flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloideae, that are commonly called hyacinths. The genus is native to the eastern Mediterranean (from south Turkey through Lebanon and Syria to northern Israel/Palestine), Iraq, north-east Iran, and Turkmenistan. Several species of Brodiea, Scilla, and other plants that were formerly classified in the lily family and have flower clusters borne along the stalk also have common names with the word “hyacinth” in them. True hyacinths should also not be confused with the genus Muscari, which are commonly known as “grape hyacinths”.

The generic name is derived from Greek mythology: Hyacinthus (in Greek, Ὑάκινθος, Hyakinthos) was a beautiful youth and lover of the god Apollo, though he was also admired by the gentle West Wind, Zephyr. Apollo and Hyacinth took turns throwing the discus. Hyacinth ran to catch it to impress Apollo, but was struck by the discus as it fell to the ground, and he died. A twist in the tale makes the wind god Zephyrus responsible for the death of Hyacinth. The beauty of the youth caused a feud between Zephyrus and Apollo. Jealous that Hyacinth preferred the radiant archery god Apollo, Zephyrus blew Apollo’s discus off course, so as to injure and kill Hyacinthus.

When the youth died, Apollo did not allow Hades to claim him; rather, he made a flower, (the hyacinth), to sprout from his spilled blood. According to Ovid’s account, the tears of Apollo stained the newly formed flower's petals with the sign of his grief. The flower of the mythological Hyacinth has been identified with a number of plants other than the true hyacinth, such as the iris.

Hyacinthus was the tutelary deity of one of the principal Spartan festivals, the Hyacinthia, held every summer. The festival lasted three days, one day of mourning for the death of the divine hero Hyacinth, and the last two celebrating his rebirth as Apollo Hayakinthios, though the division of honours is a subject for scholarly controversy.

Hyacinthus is a plant that grows from bulbs, each producing around four to six linear leaves and one to three racemes (spikes) of flowers. In the wild species, the flowers are widely spaced with as few as two per raceme in H. litwinovii and typically six to eight in H. orientalis (the garden or Dutch hyacinth), which grows to a height of 15–20 cm. Cultivars of H. orientalis have much denser flower spikes and are generally more robust.

The Dutch, or common hyacinth of house and garden culture (H. orientalis, native to southwest Asia) was so popular in the 18th century that over 2,000 cultivars were grown in the Netherlands, its chief commercial producer. This hyacinth has a single dense spike of fragrant flowers in shades of red, blue, white, orange, pink, violet or yellow. A form of the common hyacinth is the less hardy and smaller blue- or white-petalled Roman hyacinth of florists. These flowers need indirect sunlight and should be watered moderately.

The colour of the blue-flowered hyacinth plant varies between ‘mid-blue’ = violet blue and bluish purple. Within this range, can be found, Persenche, which is an American colour name (probably from French), for a blue hyacinth hue. The colour analysis of Persenche is 73% ultramarine, 9% red and 18% white.  Tekhelet, meaning “turquoise” or “blue” in Hebrew was translated as hyakinthinos (Greek: ὑακίνθινος, “blue”).

In the language for flowers, a bunch of mixed hyacinths signifies “Games and Sports; Rashness”. A blue hyacinth stands for “Constancy”, while a purple one means: “I Am Sorry; Please Forgive Me; Sorrow”. A red or pink flowered one means “Play, Recreation”, while a white one means: “Loveliness; I’ll Pray for You” and a yellow hyacinth means “Jealousy”

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

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