know that Gladiolus was the symbol flower of the Romans Gladiators?
Gladioli is a group
of plants, member
of the Iris family. This
large group consists of about 250 to 300 species of gorgeous, tender
perennial corms, which are mainly natives of South Africa, although
some are found wild in west and central Europe, the Mediterranean to
southwest and central Asia, and northwest and east Africa.
African gladioli were
imported in large quantities to Europe from South Africa during the 18th
century. The gladioli we know are all hybrids, and have been in culture since 1841. It is difficult to identify
and count original species, but some botanists believe there are close to
300. Gladiolus is easy to hybridize, so new plants appear every year as
old ones decline in popularity. A lot of the common large-flowering
varieties were hybridized after 1940 in England and the Netherlands. The
butterfly-types were introduced in 1951, and over the last twenty years
American hybrids have become more common.
Gladiolus is one of the four most popular
summer-flowering bulbs. People use them either for the garden or as a cut
flower in the summer months.
"gladiolus" is derived from the Latin word gladius,
meaning "sword," for the shape of its leaves. An ancient name
for the gladiolus was "xiphium," from the Greek word xiphos,
also meaning sword.
borrowing from Pliny's writings about plants with sword-shaped leaves,
named the plant gladiolus in allusion to the shape of the narrow leaves.
The word is also the root of the word gladiator, one who carried swords
into the coliseums and who "lived or died by the sword." Likely
drawing from the reputation of its namesake, the gladiolus suggested
strength of character in the language of flowers. The
gladiolus flower signifies remembrance. It also expresses infatuation,
telling the receiver that he or she "pierces the heart." The
gladiolus flower is the birth flower for August.
The gladiolus figured in
Greek mythology. Acording an acceptacion of a myth of Ovidius, Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain and
harvest, Demeter in
Greek mythology, loved a sacred grove near Thessaly. An evil and wealthy
man named Erisichthon, who did not believe in the gods, lived nearby and
freely took firewood from the sacred grove of trees. On one occasion when
the worshippers tried to stop him, he cut off a man's head. From the blood, Ceres made to spring up little
sword-shaped plants which she called gladiolus. Quick with revenge, Ceres punished Erisichthon by ordering
Famine to enter his body. Unable to get enough food to satisfy his
appetite, he sold his daughter in order to buy more food. The daughter
escaped to the forest, and Ceres turned her into a gladiolus plant to
watch over the man slain by her father. When Erisichthon could get no more
food and had no more money, his craving for food was so strong that Famine
forced him to eat himself.
Before the African
gladioli became popular in the West, the Mediterranean and British
gladiolus flowers were used to treat physical ailments. The English used
the gladiolus flower's stem base (corms) as a poultice and for drawing out
thorns and splinters; powdered corms mixed with goat's milk was commonly
used to soothe the symptoms of colic.