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. What many people don’t realize is that most months actually have two official flowers. Last year, we looked at one of September’s official flowers, the aster. The other is the morning glory.
The name “morning glory” can refer to any of more than 1,000 species of viny, herbaceous plants that produce bright, trumpet-shaped flowers. They range in color from white through pink to deep purple, with purples and blues among the most commonly grown varieties.
Cultivated morning glories are most often annuals, but are popular garden flowers because they spread easily, are tolerant of poor soil, and like to climb. Each flower lasts only a single day, blooming near dawn and withering by day’s end, to be replaced by a new flower the next day.
The stems of some varieties of morning glories were traditionally eaten in Asia, and the flowers can be used to make a mildly hallucinogenic alcoholic beverage. In ancient China, the seeds were used as an herbal laxative. The plant was also used in Mesopotamia to harden rubber, millennia before Charles Goodyear invented the process of vulcanization.
According to the Victorian language of flowers, morning glories symbolize love in vain. They also represent daintiness, due to their delicate appearance and short lifespan.