HERB - about Dianthus

Kathleen H. Keeler kkeeler1 at unl.edu
Wed Mar 31 21:03:21 PST 1999

Some weeks ago there was in inquiry about _Dianthus_

What I find is that The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe
1989 lists a full page of _Dianthus_ species -- 11 of them, but states
there are 300 species total in the genus.  So for Northern Europe we have
Deptford pink  _Dianthus armeria_ (of northern England, Wales and Scotland)
Sweet William  _D. barbatus_
Carthusian pink _D. carthusianorum_ of France and Germany
Large pink _D. superbus_ from higher elevations in the Alps
_D. arenarius_ like the above but from Scandianvia and E. Germany
Jersey pink _D. gallicus_ from France, Spain, Jersey
Clove pink _D. caryophyllus_ Originally from S. Europe, now widely
naturalized across Europe
	ancestor of the garden carnation
Common pink _D. plumarius_ Originally from SE Europe, now common across
Europe except in the north
Seguier's Pink _D. seguieri_ E. France (and a variety in S. Germany)
Cheddar Pink _D. gratianopolitanus_ S. Britain, Belgium, England, France,
				Germany now rare
Maiden Pink _Dianthus deltoides_ Europe except the extreme north
(The book doesn't give a key but does describe them pretty clearly, if the
question is "which plant is this")
    I don't know European botany well enough to know if these names are
exactly right, sorta right or debated.

Field guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain (1981) lists only the maiden
pink and Deptford pink as British wildflowers.

Clearly as you travel to southern Europe or Asia Minor additional species
are found.

According to Laura C. Martin, Garden Flower Folklore -- a generally
reliable source tho not as compulsive about giving the source as I'd like--
pink is from pinct, Latin "to pink or scallop" (as in pinking shears) the
jagged edges of the flower petals
  According to her the earliest mention of carnations is by Crusaders who
were stricken with plague near Tunis in the 13th C. They drank wine mixed
with leaves of pinks to control raging fevers.  They took the plants to
France, where they were called tunica.
It is thought that Turks have been cultivating carnations since the 1450's.
   Pinks however, she says were the divine flower (_Dianthus_) of ancient
Greece, _flos Jovis_ Jove's flower in Rome;
   carnation for carnatio, flesh-colored.
gillyflower, she says, is a corruption of the Italian word for "clove",
reflecting their spicy smell.
That's condensed but pretty closely quoted:  she jumps back and forth
between "carnation" and "pink" but seems to be talking about D.
caryophyllus throougout.

Martin also says pinks were (thought to be) the favorite flower of William
the Conqueror, Edward III, Charles II.  As a Norman that's a mark in their
favor (I liked them very well anyway).(And again I wonder;  if the first
mention of carnations is 1300, what plant did William I like?)  Anyone got
a reference that sorts that out?

kkeeler1 at unl.edu

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