HERB - Re: Gillyflowers

Kathleen Keeler kkeeler at unlserve.unl.edu
Thu Apr 5 06:53:23 PDT 2001

    My Flowers of England and Northern Europe (a modern flora for the region and quite
encyclopedic) lists some 10 species in the genus _Dianthus_ (pinks, clove gillyflower, carnations)
of which about half are native to England.  These include the Deptford Pink and lots of other
species called pinks in this modern flora.  The book does not consider sweet William, clove
gillyflower and carnation native to England.  They seem to be from southern Europe (sweet William
and gillyflowers) and so are Period around the Mediterranean.   And, or course, carnations are
totally Period if you are from Iran.

   The unabridged Gerard goes on and on about _Dianthus_  (more than 20 varieties) but I wasn't
willing to slog through that last night.

    All of them reportedly smell like cloves.

       Riddle (Plant Names of Medieval England) has references he suggests are _Dianthus_ from the
1200's (gariofilus is the name), but that probably is what the Cooks List called "cloves" (the
spice).  Riddle wasn't really interested in plants (he was interested in language)--his Latin name
for cloves (the spice) is way out of date.

    It sounds like our confusion of sage (_Salvia_) and sage (_Artemisia_): we put the same name
on two plants because they smell the same. Riddle has no idea if gariofilus is cloves (the spice)
or cloves (_Dianthus_). And quite possibly language won't tell you.

 Your secondary sources sound close to having it right, Jadwiga.


Jenne Heise wrote:

> > Hmmm. No footnote on this info in BC's Herb Garden, no footnotes in the entire book, which is
> > annoying.
> [snip] Thanks for the Culpepper reference.
> I went back to _my_ secondary sources, and found that Penelope Hobhouse (_Plants in
> Garden History_) claims that clove carnations were introduced to England after 1400, and
> pinks somewhat earlier. Sylvia Landberg (_Medieval Gardens) makes a similar claim. I
> can't say how reliable Hobhouse as evidence of absence, since she also repeats the story
> about rosemary being brought to England by Phillipa of Hanault.
> --
> Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise        jenne at mail.browser.net

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