What’s in a name? As referenced in Shakespeare’s play Romeo & Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In the case of flower name origins, this is all true. Their names may come from a variety of different sources. From mythology to their classifications in the plant world, the names of flowers and plants all have different origin stories. People you may know or come in contact with in your daily lives may be named after a flower or plant. Just like your friend or relative, the name of a flower or plant plays a key role in their identity.
The rose, has its name origin from a Norman form of the Germanic names of Roese and Rohese. It was used to shorten the names of any old Germanic name in use in England in the middle ages that contained the element hros, ros (horse). Roses are mainly found growing nowadays in any part of the world where there is a temperate climate.
Daisy is from the Old English word daegeseage, meaning “day’s eye”, in reference to its round, yellow center resembling the sun. The name Daisy comes from the flower, which has the aforementioned name origin. Daisies grow as a species known as the English daisy throughout the northwestern United States as a weed.
Lily is derived from Middle English lilie, which is from the Old English and Latin lilium. It refers to the flower we know today as the lily. It is believed to have its roots in ancient Egypt, where the name for the lotus flower was thought to have been used by Hebrews and changed over time to eventually stay as it is now with the word lily. The lily flower can be found in Europe, Asia and North America. It grows mostly in temperate and tropical areas.
The word tulip has undergone many transformations throughout the ages. It has its origins in the Middle East. It comes from the Persian word for turban, delband, and it has its roots in a tradition from medieval times in the Ottoman Empire: in the 1500s, it was fashionable for tulips to be worn on turbans. (A fully opened tulip was thought of to resemble a turban.) Western Europeans, frequent visitors to the region at the time, forced “delband” to go through phases of translations via the western European languages until finally it reached English in the late 1500s as tulip. Delband then went from “delband” to “tulipa” to “tulipant” to “tulip” in no time. The tulip’s genus’ name tulipa may also be an origin to the name tulip. Tulips can now be found growing in Holland, Switzerland, the U.K, and Australia and in the American states of Michigan, Iowa and Washington.
The iris is an example of just how important your name is to your identity. The word iris comes from the actual Greek word for “rainbow” and from the myth about Iris, the ancient Greek goddess of the rainbow. In the story, she is the messenger to Zeus and Hera and was said to guide the dead on their journey to Heaven from Earth. The rainbow was thought of by the ancient Greeks to be her flowing, multicolored robe. Others believed the beautiful multi-colored flowers were also part of her robe or the flowing veil from her dress. The ancient Greeks soon then began the practice of planting purple iris flowers on the graves of women, hoping to entice the goddess to guide their loved ones on their journey to Heaven. Iris flowers also have their name origins in their scientific names of Iridaceae (family), Iridoideae (subfamily) and Irideae (tribe). The iris flower can be found to grow naturally in North America, the Middle East, northern Africa, Europe and Asia.
The snapdragon’s name is derived from the Greek word “antirrhinon” which roughly translates to “nose-like”, “anti” meaning like and “rhin” meaning nose. This colorful flower gets its name from its resemblance to a dragon’s head. It’s no wonder, then, that its botanical name is antirrhinum. Its common name of snapdragon comes from the “snap” the flowers make when their throats are squeezed, resembling a dragon’s mouth being wide open. Snapdragons are native to Europe, North Africa and the United States, most flourishing in rocky areas.
Azalea is one unique name in the flower world. Azalea comes from azaleos, a Greek word that means dry. The azalea flower thrives in well-drained or sandy soil. The flower’s name was first coined in the mid-18th century by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. Azaleas are native to several continents including Asia, Europe and North America. They are planted abundantly as ornamentals in the southeastern USA, southern Asia, and parts of southwest Europe.
Asters find their name origin in their family scientific name of Asteraceae. The name aster comes from ancient Greek word ἀστήρ (astḗr), meaning “star”, referring to the shape of the flower head. Asters are mainly found in North America and Southern Europe.
Wheww! I hope I didn’t boggle your mind too much with all of this information. As you can see, the question, “What’s in a name?” is one that is answered extensively in this piece because every flower has a name and an origin, much like we do. It is important to know whwre they com from, much where we come from.
By: Alexa Escalona