Hyacinthus is a small genus of bulbous, spring-blooming perennials. They are fragrant flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloideae and are commonly called hyacinths //. The genus is native to the area of the eastern Mediterranean from the north of Bulgaria through to the northern part of the region of Palestine.
|Cultivar of Hyacinthus orientalis|
Tourn. ex L.
Several species of Brodiaea, Scilla, and other plants that were formerly classified in the lily family and have flower clusters borne along the stalk also have common names with the word "hyacinth" in them. Hyacinths should also not be confused with the genus Muscari, which are commonly known as grape hyacinths.
Hyacinthus grows from bulbs, each producing around four to six linear leaves and one to three spikes or racemes of flowers. In the wild species, the flowers are widely spaced with as few as two per raceme in H. litwinovii and typically six to eight in H. orientalis which grows to a height of 15–20 cm (6–8 in). Cultivars of H. orientalis have much denser flower spikes and are generally more robust.
The genus name Hyacinthus was attributed to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort when used by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. It is derived from a Greek name used for a plant by Homer, ὑάκινθος (hyákinthos), the flowers supposedly having grown up from the blood of a youth of this name accidentally killed by the god Zephyr. The original wild plant known as hyakinthos to Homer has been identified with Scilla bifolia, among other possibilities. Linnaeus defined the genus Hyacinthus widely to include species now placed in other genera of the subfamily Scilloideae, such as Muscari (e.g. his Hyacinthus botryoides) and Hyacinthoides (e.g. his Hyacinthus non-scriptus).
Three species are placed within the genus Hyacinthus:
- Hyacinthus litwinovii
- Hyacinthus orientalis - common, Dutch or garden hyacinth
- Hyacinthus transcaspicus
The genus Hyacinthus is considered native to the eastern Mediterranean, including Turkey, Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel. It is widely naturalized elsewhere, including Europe (the Netherlands, France, Sardinia, Italy, Sicily, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania, Greece and Cyprus), Korea, North America (United States and Canada) and central Mexico, Cuba and Haiti.
The Dutch, or common hyacinth of house and garden culture (H. orientalis, native to southwest Asia) was so popular in the 18th century that over 2,000 cultivars were grown in the Netherlands, its chief commercial producer. This hyacinth has a single dense spike of fragrant flowers in shades of red, blue, white, orange, pink, violet or yellow. A form of the common hyacinth is the less hardy and smaller blue- or white-petalled Roman hyacinth of florists. These flowers need indirect sunlight and should be watered moderately.
Some members of the plant subfamily Scilloideae are commonly called hyacinths but are not members of the genus Hyacinthus and are edible; one example is the tassel hyacinth, which forms part of the cuisine of some Mediterranean countries.
Hyacinths are often associated with spring and rebirth. The hyacinth flower is used in the Haft-Seen table setting for the Persian New Year celebration, Nowruz, held at the Spring Equinox. The Persian word for hyacinth is سنبل (sonbol).
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
“They called me the hyacinth girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
In Roman Catholic tradition, the hyacinth represents prudence, constancy, desire of heaven and peace of mind; and is derived from the story of Hyacinthus, upon whose death the flower sprang forth.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hyacinthus orientalis.|
White and purple hyacinth cultivars in Detroit, Michigan
The color of the blue flower hyacinth plant varies between 'mid-blue', violet blue and bluish purple. Within this range can be found Persenche, which is an American color name (probably from French), for a hyacinth hue. The color analysis of Persenche is 73% ultramarine, 9% red and 18% white.
- Stevens, P.F. "Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Scilloideae". Mobot.org. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
- "Hyacinthus". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
- Beckett, K., ed. (1993), Encyclopaedia of Alpines : Volume 1 (A–K), Pershore, UK: AGS Publications, ISBN 978-0-900048-61-6 pp. 656–657.
- Hyam, R. & Pankhurst, R.J. (1995), Plants and their names : a concise dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-866189-4
- Lindsell, Alice, Was Theocritus a botanist? in Raven, John E. (2000), Plants and Plant Lore in Ancient Greece, Oxford: Leopard's Head Press, ISBN 978-0-904920-40-6, p. 68
- "Hyacinthus botryoides", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2013-03-20
- "Hyacinthus non-scriptus", World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2013-03-20
- Hyacinthaceae, Tolweb.org, retrieved 2011-03-20
- World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2011-10-07, search for "Hyacinthus" and its species
- Czerepanov, S.K. (1995), Vascular Plants of Russia and Adjacent States (the Former USSR), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-45006-5, cited in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2011-10-07, under Hyacinthella litwinovii and Hyacinthella transcaspica
- "Home Forcing of Hyacinths", North Carolina State University Horticulture Information, archived from the original on 2013-04-04, retrieved 2013-03-20
- "The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot". Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. 2018-09-05. Retrieved 2018-09-05.CS1 maint: others (link)
- "Signs and Symbols". catholictradition.org. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
- Mathew, Brian (1987), The Smaller Bulbs, London: B.T. Batsford, ISBN 978-0-7134-4922-8
- "(M)". Archived from the original on 2015-09-17. Retrieved 2015-09-24.
- Funk & Wagnell's New Standard Dictionary (1942), under spectrum color list.
- Coccoris, Patricia (2012) The Curious History of the Bulb Vase. Published by Cortex Design.