Dahlia From The Showpiece Mix
Painting - Photographic
Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. A member of the Asteraceae or Compositae, dicotyledonous plants, related species include the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum and zinnia. There are at least 36 species of dahlia, with hybrids commonly grown as garden plants. Flower forms are variable, with one head per stem; these can be as small as 2" in diameter or up to 12" ("dinner plate"). This great variety results from dahlias being octoploids-that is, they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes, whereas most plants have only two. In addition, dahlias also contain many transposons-genetic pieces that move from place to place upon an allele-which contributes to their manifesting such great diversity.
The stems are leafy, ranging in height from as low as 12" to more than 6-8'. The majority of species do not produce scented flowers or cultivars. Like most plants that do not attract pollinating insects through scent, they are brightly colored, displaying most hues, with the exception of blue. "Dahl" is a homophone of the Swedish word "dal", or "valley"; although it is not a true translation, the plant is sometimes referred to as the "valley flower".
Spanish Hidalgos reported finding the plants growing in Mexico in 1525. They were used for a food source, and were both gathered in the wild and cultivated. The Aztecs used them to treat epilepsy, and employed the long hollow stem of the Dahlia imperalis for water pipes. The indigenous peoples variously identified the plants as "Chichipatl" (Toltecs) and "Acocotle" or "Cocoxochitl" (Aztecs) translated as "water cane", "water pipe", "water pipe flower", "hollow stem flower" and "cane flower". All these refer to the hollowness of the plants' stem. The dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963.
August 5th, 2012
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