Thursday, 20 February 2014

Enchanting flowers: Crocus

It's February and a load of purple surprises have grown from the soil. These flowers are the Spring time Crocus. They come from the iris genus family. The crocuses have many varieties, they've got six petals and can be found in different colours ranging from purple, blue, white, cream and yellow. Particularly the blue and purple species have bright yellow centres. These are found in the wild grasses, at the base of trees, along paths and streams and especially found in some gardens.

These flowers start off with slender buds and when they open, they look like miniature fairy crowns. As delicate as they look, these flowers are tough and can grow in wintry conditions of snow, ice and frost. These flowers are like pretty bridesmaids that follow after the bridal snowdrops. These are the second wild flower to appear in abundance at late winter but the first of the colourful flowers of the year. 

A name "Crocus" is from the ancient Greek Krokos, Hebrew Karkom and Persian Kurkam. This means "Yellow" and is meaning the middle of the flower, even the purple and blue varieties that all have yellow fertile middles. These produce the rich yellow saffron spice and saffron dye.

Crocuses are associated with saffron, magic, beauty and solar goddesses. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra loved using saffron as a seductive perfume and aromatic bath essence. Saffron from crocuses has been widely used in the rest of the ancient world as a medicine and aphrodisiac. Royals went crazy over saffron. Alexander the Great used saffron to heal his wounds. Today saffron is mainly used as an ingredient in cookery, paint, cosmetics and modern medicines. It's said to be good for treating cancer and depression.   

As a flower, crocuses are used as decourations and worn during the pagan celebrations of Imbolc and Ostara. Goddesses associated with saffron and crocus flowers are Freya, Aphrodite, Eostre, Brigid, Persephone, Eos and Ashtoreth. These flowers represent the approach of Spring and the daylight.

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