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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

August Flower Lore

Flowers, perhaps more than any other part of the natural world, are fascinating because of the many layers of meaning people have shrouded them in throughout history.

There is a whole sub-category of etiquette surrounding which flowers are appropriate to give at what times, and to whom. The unending rules surrounding something so simple as a flower can be dizzying.

Another aspect of flower lore concerns the designated flowers for each month of the year. August’s official flower is the gladiolus.

The name gladiolus comes from Latin word for “sword,” so named because the flowers grow up a long sword-like shaft. The name is commonly used for any of about 260 species of flowers, all of which share a similar body structure. They come in a range of colors, including pink, red, purple, orange, white, and more.

To the ancient Romans, gladioli represented strength of character, sincerity, and generosity. Their sword-like shape caused them to be associated with gladiators,

The ancient Greeks believed the flower sprang from the ground from the blood of Hyacinthus, a lover of the god Apollo who was accidentally slain by a discus. This myth eventually became more general, and one popular belief was that gladioli grew whenever anyone was slain by a sword.

In parts of Africa, the gladiolus is believed to have magical properties. It has been used to cure everything from common colds to painful menstruation, but is most effective for digestive disturbances, including diarrhea, and constipation. In cultures where dysentery is common, it is often used to ease the symptoms.

1 comment

1 Frutero { 08.25.11 at 10:35 am }

For me, August will always be goldenrod. People used to blame it for hay fever, because of its big, fat, golden pollen, but in fact that is too big and heavy to get up anyone’s nostrils. It is, however, emblematic of summer’s end, and it flowers all over North America then, from the Northern Tier to the Gulf South.

Goldenrod is quintessentially North American. Of the scores of species, only one is native to Europe. One is flavorful (the anisillo); one, the silverrod, is full- moon white. All can be dried for winter flower arrangements. Best of all, though, is just to see the many humble, free- born, sturdy species flooding the meadows and streambanks and brakes of this country with the gold of summer’s end.

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