Thursday, 4 February 2016

ANEMONES

“The starry, fragile windflower, Poised above in airy grace, Virgin white, suffused with blushes, Shyly droops her lovely face.” - Elaine Goodale

Anemone is a genus of about 120 species of flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, native to temperate zones. The genus is closely related to Pulsatilla (Pasque flower) and Hepatica; some botanists even include both of these genera within Anemone. In Greek anemōnē means “daughter of the wind”, from ánemos the wind god + feminine patronymic suffix -ōnē. The windflower often grows on craggy hilltops exposed to the wind and the name signifies that the wind may blow the petal open, but will also eventually, blow the dead petals away.

Anemone are perennials that have basal leaves with long leaf-stems that can be upright or prostrate. Leaves are simple or compound with lobed, parted, or undivided leaf blades. The leaf margins are toothed or entire. Flowers with 4–27 sepals are produced singly, in cymes of 2–9 flowers, or in umbels, above a cluster of leaf- or sepal-like bracts. Sepals may be any colour. The pistils have one ovule. The flowers have nectaries, but petals are missing in the majority of species. The fruits are ovoid to obovoid shaped achenes that are collected together in a tight cluster, ending variously lengthened stalks; though many species have sessile clusters terminating the stems. The achenes are beaked and some species have feathery hairs attached to them.

Anemone coronaria is the type species and is a single flower found in red, magenta, mauve and white forms. Found growing wild in the Mediterranean countries, Anemone coronaria is also widely grown in gardens for its decorative flowers. Numerous cultivars have been selected and named, the most popular including the De Caen and St Brigid groups of cultivars. The De Caen group are hybrids cultivated in the districts of Caen and Bayeux in France in the 18th century.

Greek mythology linked the red anemone to the death of Adonis. This handsome young man was loved by both Persephone, queen of the underworld, and Aphrodite, goddess of love. Adonis enjoyed hunting, and one day when he was out hunting alone, he wounded a fierce boar, which stabbed him with its tusks. Aphrodite heard the cries of her lover and arrived to see Adonis bleeding to death. Red anemones sprang from the earth where the drops of Adonis’ blood fell. In another version of the story, the anemones were white before the death of Adonis, whose blood turned them red. Christians later adopted the symbolism of the anemone. For them its red represented the blood shed by Jesus Christ on the cross. Anemones sometimes appear in paintings of the Crucifixion.

Anemone coronaria means “crown anemone”, evoking regal associations. The Arabic name is shaqa'iq An-Nu’man translated literally as the wounds, or “pieces”, of Nu’man. One possible source of the name traces back to the Sumerian god of food and vegetation, Tammuz, whose Phoenician epithet was “Nea’man”. Tammuz is generally considered to have been drawn into the Greek pantheon as “Adonis”. Tammuz's Phoenician epithet “Nea’man” is believed to be both the source of “an-Nu’man” in Arabic which came through Syriac, and of “anemone” which came through Greek.

Another possible source of the name is An-Nu’man III Bin Al-Munthir, the last Lakhmid king of Al-Hirah (582-c.609 AD) and a Christian Arab. An-Nu’man is known to have protected the flowers during his reign. According to myth, the flower thrived on An-Nu’man’s grave, paralleling the death and rebirth of Adonis.

In Hebrew, the anemone is calanit metzouya. “Calanit” comes from the Hebrew word “cala” לה" which means “bride”, while “metzouya” means “common”. The calanit earned its name because of its beauty and majesty, evoking a bride on her wedding day (remembering that traditionally brides wore brightly coloured clothes on their wedding day in the Middle East). In 2013 Anemone coronaria was elected as the national flower of the State of Israel, in a poll arranged by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (החברה להגנת הטבע) and Ynet. Anemone coronaria grows wild all over Israel, Palestine and Jordan. During the British Mandate for Palestine, British soldiers were nicknamed “kalaniyot” for their red berets.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

1 comment:

  1. they are just beautiful! have a wonderful weekend! via FFF

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