Elisabeth C. Miller Library logo Miller Library Home UW Botanic Gardens Home UW Botanic Gardens Home book graphic

3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98195 | (206) 543 0415 | Open Monday 9-8; Tuesday - Friday 9-5; Saturday 9-3

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for ' Plants and history'

PAL Questions: 1 - Garden Tools: 1 - Recommended Websites: 2

Display all answers | Hide all answers


 

Keywords: Alcea, Plants and history

PAL Question:

What's the origin of the hollyhock?

View Answer:

I consulted The Gardener's Atlas by John Grimshaw (Firefly Books, 1998) and in the section on mallows, Alcea rosea (garden hollyhock) is described as "indigenous to the Near East." It was initially grown to be used for its fiber, like fellow Malvaceae family member Gossypium (cotton), but it didn't work well for that purpose, and has been used as an ornamental plant in Europe since the Middle Ages. Its seeds may have been taken to northern and western Europe by returning Crusader soldiers. "The soldiers added 'holy' to hoc, the Anglo-Saxon word for a mallow." All the doubles and strains with variegated flowers were cultivated in European gardens. There is a smaller species, Alcea rugosa, which is native to the Ukrainian steppes.

Season All Season
Date 2010-07-02
Link to this record only (permalink)


Keywords: Anemone, Plants and history, Ethnobotany, Cyclamen

Garden Tool:

Cyclamen start blooming in the fall. Diana Wells, in her book 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names (Algonquin Books, 1997) reports that Cyclamen's common name is "sowbread" because they were supposedly used to feed pigs. The name cyclamen comes from the Greek "kyklo" meaning circle and probably referring to the seed stalks that curl up to a tight coil as they ripen.

Wells writes about another autumn flower, Japanese anemones. Plant hunter Robert Fortune sent seeds of the plant to England in 1844. He noted these white flowering perennials were often growing on graves in China and remarked Anemone "[a] most appropriate ornament for the last resting places of the dead."

A few other fun books on the lore and history of plants are Cornucopia the Lore of Fruits and Vegetables by Annie Lise Roberts (Knickerbocker, 1998) with colorful photos and recipes and the classic Who named the Daisy, Who named the Rose by Mary Durant (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1976) that gives a folk history of American wildflowers.

Season: All Season
Date: 2007-04-03
Link to this record (permalink)


 

Didn't find an answer to your question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords or Search Again:

We are continually adding new questions, so be sure to keep coming back.

June 24 2013 12:55:25