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Dianthus caryophyllus

dianthus caryophyllus, dianthus caryophyllus carnation
Dianthus caryophyllus, carnation or clove pink, is a species of Dianthus It is probably native to the Mediterranean region but its exact range is unknown due to extensive cultivation for the last 2,000 years1234

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 80 cm tall The leaves are glaucous greyish green to blue-green, slender, up to 15 cm long The flowers are produced singly or up to five together in a cyme; they are 3–5 cm diameter, and sweetly scented; the original natural flower colour is bright pinkish-purple, but cultivars of other colours, including red, white, yellow and green, have been developed45

Some fragrance-less carnation cultivars are often used as boutonnieres for men


  • 1 Cultivation and uses
    • 11 Growing
    • 12 Diseases
    • 13 Symbolism
      • 131 Traditional meanings
      • 132 Holidays and events
      • 133 Symbols of territorial entities and organizations
    • 14 Colors
  • 2 Etymology
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Cultivation and usesedit


Carnations require well-drained, neutral to slightly alkaline soil, and full sun Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden planting4 Typical examples include 'Gina Porto', 'Helen', 'Laced Romeo', and 'Red Rocket'

Colombia is the largest carnation producer in the worldcitation needed



A carnation cultivar Flower buds

Traditional meaningsedit

For the most part, carnations express love, fascination, and distinction, though there are many variations dependent on colour

  • Along with the red rose, the red carnation can be used as a symbol of socialism and the labour movement, and historically has often been used in demonstrations on International Workers' Day May Day
  • In Portugal, bright red carnations represent the 1974 coup d'etat that ended the Estado Novo regime
  • Light red carnations represent admiration, while dark red denote deep love and affection
  • White carnations represent pure love and good luck, while striped variegated carnations symbolise regret that a love cannot be shared
  • White carnations, in the Netherlands are associated with HRH prince Bernhard He wore one during World War II and in a gesture of defiance some of the Dutch population took up this gesture After the war the white carnation became a sign of the Prince, veterans and remembrance of the resistance
  • Purple carnations indicate capriciousness In France, it is a traditional funeral flower, given in condolence for the death of a loved one
  • According to a Christian legend, carnations first appeared on Earth as Jesus carried the Cross The Virgin Mary shed tears at Jesus' plight, and carnations sprang up from where her tears fell Thus the pink carnation became the symbol of a mother's undying love67
  • Carnation is the birth flower for those born in the month of January

The formal name for carnation, dianthus, comes from Greek for "heavenly flower",8 or the flower of Jove9

Mural commemorating the Portuguese Carnation Revolution

Holidays and eventsedit

Carnations are often worn on special occasions, especially Mother's Day and weddings In 1907, Anna Jarvis chose a carnation as the emblem of Mother's Day because it was her mother's favourite flower10 This tradition is now observed in the United States and Canada on the second Sunday in May Ann Jarvis chose the white carnation because she wanted to represent the purity of a mother's love1112 This meaning has evolved over time, and now a red carnation may be worn if one's mother is alive, and a white one if she has died13

In Korea, carnations express admiration, love and gratitude Red and pink carnations are worn on Parents Day Korea does not separate Mother's Day or Father's Day, but has Parents Day on 8 May Sometimes, parents wear a corsage of carnations on their left chest on Parents Day Carnations are also worn on Teachers Day 15 May14

Red carnations are worn on May Day as a symbol of socialism and the labour movement in some countries, such as Austria, Italy,15 and successor countries of the former Yugoslavia The red carnation is also the symbol of the Portuguese Carnation Revolution

Green carnations are for St Patrick's Day and were famously worn by the Irish writer Oscar Wilde The green carnation thence became a symbol of homosexuality in the early 20th century, especially through the book The Green Carnation and Noël Coward's song, "We All Wear a Green Carnation" in his operetta, Bitter Sweet

In Poland, in times of People's Republic of Poland, carnations were traditionally given to women on the widely celebrated Women's Day, together with commodities that were difficult to obtain due to the economic hardships faced by the country's communist system, such as tights, towels, soap and coffeecitation needed

At the University of Oxford, carnations are traditionally worn to all examinations; white for the first exam, pink for exams in between, and red for the last exam One story explaining this tradition relates that initially a white carnation was kept in a red inkpot between exams, so by the last exam it was fully red; the story is thought to originate in the late 1990s16

Carnations painted by Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Carnations are the traditional first wedding anniversary flower17

Symbols of territorial entities and organizationsedit

Carnation is the national flower of Spain, Monaco, and Slovenia, and the provincial flower of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands The state flower of Ohio is a scarlet carnation, which was introduced to the state by Levi L Lamborn The choice was made to honor William McKinley, Ohio Governor and US President, who was assassinated in 1901, and regularly wore a scarlet carnation on his lapel18


Carnations do not naturally produce the pigment delphinidin, thus a blue carnation cannot occur by natural selection or be created by traditional plant breeding It shares this characteristic with other widely sold flowers like roses, lilies, tulips, chrysanthemums and gerberas

Around 1996 a company, Florigene, used genetic engineering to extract certain genes from petunia and snapdragon flowers to produce a blue-mauve carnation, which was commercialized as Moondust In 1998 a violet carnation called Moonshadow was commercialized19 As of 2004 three additional blue-violet/purple varieties have been commercialized20


Peter Binoit - Still life with carnations, 1618

Carnations were mentioned in Greek literature 2,000 years ago "Dianthus" was coined by Greek botanist Theophrastus, and is derived from the Greek words for divine "dios" and flower "anthos"21 Some scholars believe that the name "carnation" comes from "coronation" or "corone" flower garlands, as it was one of the flowers used in Greek ceremonial crowns Others think the name stems from the Latin "caro" genitive "carnis" flesh, which refers to the original colour of the flower, or incarnatio incarnation, which refers to the incarnation of God made flesh The legend that explains the name is that Diana the Goddess came upon the shepherd boy and took a liking to him But the boy, for some reason, turned her down Diana ripped out his eyes and threw them to the ground where they sprouted into the Dianthus flower

Although originally applied to the species Dianthus caryophyllus, the name Carnation is also often applied to some of the other species of Dianthus, and more particularly to garden hybrids between D caryophyllus and other species in the genus

See alsoedit

  • List of Award of Garden Merit dianthus


  1. ^ Med-Checklist: Dianthus caryophyllus
  2. ^ Flora Europaea: Dianthus caryophyllus
  3. ^ Blamey, M & Grey-Wilson, C 1989 Flora of Britain and Northern Europe ISBN 0-340-40170-2
  4. ^ a b c Huxley, A, ed 1992 New RHS Dictionary of Gardening Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5
  5. ^ Flora of NW Europe: Dianthus caryophyllus
  6. ^ Anthony S Mercatante 1976, The magic garden: the myth and folklore of flowers, plants, trees, and herbs, Harper & Row, p 9, ISBN 0-06-065562-3 
  7. ^ "The legend of the carnation", Library notes, Alabama Public Library Service, 1965, p 6 
  8. ^ "dianthus" Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary Merriam-Webster Online 2010 Retrieved 4 March 2010 
  9. ^ "Care Information for Standard Carnation" Calyx Flowers Floral Library Calyx & Corolla, Inc 2010 Retrieved 4 March 2010 
  10. ^ Leigh Eric Schmidt 1997 Princeton University Press, ed Consumer Rites: The Buying and Selling of American Holidays reprint, illustrated ed p 260 ISBN 0-691-01721-2 
  11. ^ Louisa Taylor, Canwest News Service 11 May 2008 "Mother's Day creator likely 'spinning in her grave'" Vancouver Sun Retrieved 7 July 2008 
  12. ^ "Mother's Day reaches 100th anniversary, The woman who lobbied for this day would berate you for buying a card" MSNBC Associated Press 11 May 2008 Retrieved 7 July 2008 
  13. ^ "Annie's "Mother's Day" History Page" Retrieved 26 June 2008 
  14. ^ Eaves, Gregory 13 May 2016 "Teacher's Day" koreanet Retrieved 2 February 2017 
  15. ^ Keith Flett 2002 "May Day" Socialist Review Retrieved 4 March 2010 
  16. ^ "Why do students at Oxford University wear carnations to exams" Retrieved 4 March 2010 
  17. ^ Wedding anniversary#Flower gifts
  18. ^ "Lawriter - ORC - 502 State flower" Codesohiogov Retrieved 2015-12-08 
  19. ^ PhysOrg website 4 April 2005 Plant gene replacement results in the world's only blue rose
  20. ^ "GM Carnations in Australia A Resource Guide" PDF Agrifood Awareness Australia November 2004 
  21. ^ "What in Carnation", Wall Street Journal, Off Duty Section, 23–24 October 2010, pD1

External linksedit

  • Carnations and the Floriculture Industry: Records of the Colorado Flower Growers Association

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Dianthus caryophyllus

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