Sharing the limelight with Gladiolus this month, is the other birth flower for August, the delectable dahlia. Dahlia flowers come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes and are beautiful and striking in their appearance. The colour range varies from white to a really dark burgundy, and they can even be found in black, although this is rare. Most of the black dahlias we see in gardens are actually more a dark burgundy than black. The generous flowering of this plant lasts all summer long, with dahlias usually blooming from June through to October.
Dahlias belong to the Asteraceae family, and are related to sunflowers, chrysanthemums, zinnia, and the daisy. There are around 42 species, and they originate from the mountainous areas of Mexico, Central America, and Colombia.
The symbolism associated with dahlias is that of elegance and dignity and they are also known to represent one who stands strong in his/her sacred values. Perhaps this is why dahlias are often a popular choice for wedding flowers? That being said, the dahlia does have a darker side, with negative connotations of betrayal, instability, and dishonesty. The Black Dahlia is a crime fiction novel by American author James Ellroy, with its subject being the 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles. Following the novel, a film of the same name was also made.
Not only do these plants have a wide variety of flower colours to choose from, but they also vary widely in size too. Dahlias can range in height from 1 foot up to 8 feet, and their flowers can be small (2 inches across) or really large; the ginormous “dinner plate” variety has flowers with a diameter of 10-12 inches!
Here’s a few more interesting facts about the delicious dahlia:
- In 1963, the dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico.
- Dahlias form a part of the native cuisine in the Oaxaca region of Mexico.
- Prior to the discovery of insulin in 1921, diabetics in Europe and America were often given a substance called Atlantic starch or diabetic sugar, which was derived from inulin, a type of soluble fibre and a naturally occurring form of fruit sugar, extracted from dahlia tubers. Inulin is still used in clinical tests for kidney functionality.
- Dahlia tubers were grown as a food crop by the Aztecs, who also used the plants to treat epilepsy. The long hollow stems of the plant were also used as water pipes.
- Dacopa, a strong mocha-tasting extract from the roasted tubers of the dahlia plant, is used to flavour beverages throughout Central America.
- Dahlias are the only flower to be used to decorate floats for the largest flower parade in the world, entirely made by volunteers. Bloemencorso Zundert takes place on the first Sunday of September, in Zundert, Netherlands. Around 8 million dahlias are used.
Perfect in summer bouquets and vase arrangements, we have locally-grown dahlias in store now. Or, if you’re just after a quick pop of colour, choose our Treat Yo Self Dahlia Bunches.