History of Flowers
In this article, we will be learning about the origins of flowers and their presence in human history. We’ll examine the records of human interaction with these exquisite blooms. These span all the way back from the Paleolithic era to modern times.
The next section of this article probes into flowers as art subjects in ancient history. We also tackle the influence they had as muses for artists of all kinds.
Last, we’ll look into a list of the most popular flowers and identify the stories behind their names!
Interested in a formal course? Want to get certified as an expert florist? We encourage you to look into organizations that offer programs in floristry, such as:
American Institute of Floral Designers (www.aifd.org).
Society of American Florists (www.safnow.org).
American Floral Endowment (www.endowment.org).
Flowers through Human History.
How far back are flowers documented in human history? Have they always been diverse? How diverse? How did humans identify and use them in early history?
These are a few of the things people wonder about flowers. Here is a list of answers to some of the most pressing inquiries about flowers as recorded in history!
Have flowers always existed? Since when?
Yes, they have. Archaeologists have dug deep to find out when flowers first emerged. Using modern-day technology over time, they uncovered flower fossils. With these, they established that flowers have been around since the prehistoric period. Their earliest estimate is around the Paleolithic age, about 93 million years ago.
Were flowers always as diverse as they are now? Or did that develop over time with human mediation?
Today, there are around 270,000 species of flowers! This number continues to grow with time and scientific progress.
As for the evolution of their diversity, records only go back to about 150 years. History shows only 125,000 species already existed.
Are there flowers that have been here through early history?
Plants like magnolias and herbs go back to 120 million years old. This time allowed them to grow into their forms today.
Experts presume that flowering plants have been around for around 146 million years.
How did humans find them? Did they make use of them in their day-to-day lives and routine?
There is no precise record of how humans identified flowers and plants. But there’s proof on the part of flowers in the day-to-day life of humans in early history!
For example, setting flowers on graves has been a ritual long before current times.
Various forms of art have also used florals both as main subjects and backdrop details. From music, literature, and sculpture, people have used flowers to express themselves. Now we see how blooms have always lightened lives and made occasions more special.
We’ll explore more on flowers in art below, so keep reading!
Flowers as Art Subjects in Ancient History.
From Ancient Egypt to contemporary pop art, flowers have given rise to masterpieces throughout history. Notable works with flowers vary from clay pots to still-life paintings. Its portrayal has been vital in developing several art forms and mediums.
In fact, flowers as artists’ muse in history is a course in arts studies programs. This only affirms how important blossoms are in art!
Here, we’ll look at the impression that flowers have on various periods in art history. We’ll learn what makes them so appealing to artists and audiences alike.
The lotus flower is one of the most prominent subjects in Ancient Egyptian art. This is due to its symbolic significance in their religious myths. It was often represented in paintings, amulets, ceramics, and other artworks.. Evidence also indicates the use of florals as jewelry for the royal court.
In medieval times, tapestries became popular as art works. This gave way to the use of flowers as backdrops for different types of scenery.
It later birthed the form of millefleur, or a “thousand flowers”. These tapestries had duplicating patterns of fantastic blossoms stitched on it.
Artists from the Renaissance also used blossoms in their myth-inspired paintings. Other artists took flowers as a focal point in their work. They created still-life paintings of fresh blooms and fancy bouquets.
The Impressionist and Fauvism movements also involved the use of flowers in art. Flowers often acted as the subject of an indoor scene with a person or two beside it. Fauvism emphasized this using lively colors. Other times, flowers were either the focus of the artwork or the backdrop of the scene.
Today, flowers remain as a celebrated muse among artists through pop art and contemporary 3D art.
Pop art imagines simple common objects in a different light and color. 3D artists often use flowers to construct a sculpture of another figure. They also pay homage to art from the Renaissance and Ancient Egypt.
Flower Names and their Origins.
Have you ever wondered where roses and calla lilies got their names from? Look no further! Here is a short list of beloved flowers and the history behind their names.
Believed to come from the Greek word carnis (” flesh”), describing its original color. Also considered to come from corone (” flower garlands”). This is because they were first used in ceremonial crowns.
First called “lion’s tooth” thanks to the petals’ likeness to a lion’s sharp teeth. The French translation “dent-de-lion” later changed into the English dandelion.
In Greek mythology, flowers called “asphedelos” carpeted Elysian fields. Adapting the first d in the name in the future, it translated to the modern daffodil.
Born from Old English poetics, daisies are an evolved variation of the phrase “day’s eye”.
Called the “Holly Tree”. Later known as “holly.” Medieval monks thought it would protect them from evil and lightning.
From Latin word lilium, from “lily of the valley”. This is because it was often seen in valleys.
From Greek word orchis, “testicle”. Greeks believed if pregnant women ate these, their unborn child would end up being a boy.
Coming from the Spanish and Italian rosa. Used to name red flowers.
Photo by Ray Hennessy