History of Flowers

Flowers and Their Roots

History of Flowers

In this article, we will be learning about the origins of flowers and their presence in human history. We’ll examine the records of human interaction with these beautiful blooms. These reach all the way back from the Paleolithic era to modern times.

The next section of this article talks about flowers as art subjects in ancient history. We also go over the impact they had as muses for artists of all kinds.

Last, we’ll delve into a list of the most popular flowers and identify the stories behind their names!

Interested in a formal course? Want to get certified as an expert on all things floral? We encourage you to check out organizations that offer programs in floristry, such as:

American Institute of Floral Designers (www.aifd.org).
Society of American Florists (www.safnow.org).
American Floral Endowment (www.endowment.org).

Flowers through Human History

How far back are flowers documented in human history? Have they always been diverse? How diverse? How did humans discover and use them in early history?

These are only a few of the things people wonder about flowers. Here is a list of answers to some of the most pressing queries about flowers as recorded in history!


Have flowers always existed? Since when?

Yes, they have. Archaeologists have dug deep to figure out when flowers first emerged. Using modernized technology over time, they discovered flower fossils. With these, they identified that flowers have been around since the prehistoric period. Their earliest estimate is around the Paleolithic age, about 93 million years ago.


Were flowers always as diverse as they are now? Or did that develop over time with human interference?

Today, there are about 270,000 species of flowers! This number continues to grow with time and scientific innovations.

As for the evolution of their diversity, records only go back to about 150 years. History shows only 125,000 species already existed.

Are there flowers that have been here through early history?

Plants like magnolias and herbs date back to 120 million years old. This time allowed them to progress into their forms today.

Experts believe that flowering plants have been around for about 146 million years.


How did humans find them? Did they use them in their daily lives and regimen?

There is no specified record of how humans identified flowers and plants. But there’s evidence on the role of flowers in the everyday life of humans in early history!

For example, placing flowers on graves has been a ritual long before current times.

Various forms of art have also used flowers both as main subjects and backdrop details. From music, literature, and sculpture, people have used flowers to express themselves. Now we see how blooms have always brightened lives and made occasions more special.

We’ll explore more on flowers in art below, so keep reading!


Flowers as Art Subjects in Ancient History

From Ancient Egypt to current pop art, flowers have given rise to masterpieces all through history. Notable works with flowers range from clay pots to still-life paintings. Its depiction has been vital in developing several art forms and mediums.

In fact, flowers as artists’ muse in history is a course in arts studies programs. This only testifies to how important blossoms are in art!

Here, we’ll look at the impact that flowers have on several periods in art history. We’ll discover what makes them so enticing to artists and audiences alike.

The lotus flower is one of the most respected subjects in Ancient Egyptian art. This is due to its symbolic meaning in their religious myths. It was often portrayed in paintings, amulets, ceramics, and other artworks.. Evidence also suggests the use of florals as jewelry for the royal court.

In medieval times, tapestries became popular as art works. This gave way to the use of flowers as backdrops for several types of scenery.

It later birthed the form of millefleur, or a “thousand flowers”. These tapestries had repeating patterns of exquisite blossoms stitched on it.

Artists from the Renaissance also used florals in their myth-inspired paintings. Other painters took flowers as a focus in their work. They created still-life paintings of fresh blooms and fancy bouquets.

The Impressionist and Fauvism movements also involved the use of flowers in art. Flowers often served as the subject of an indoor scene with a person or two beside it. Fauvism stressed this using lively colors. Other times, flowers were either the center of the artwork or the backdrop of the scene.

Today, flowers remain as a beloved muse among artists through pop art and modern 3D art.

Pop art imagines plain common objects in a different light and color. 3D artists often use flowers to construct a sculpture of another figure. They also pay homage to art from the Renaissance and Ancient Egypt.


Flower Names and their Origins

Have you ever wondered where roses and calla lilies got their names from? Look no further! Here is a quick list of popular flowers and the story behind their names.


Believed to come from the Greek word carnis (” flesh”), pertaining to its original color. Also thought to come from corone (” flower garlands”). This is because they were first used in ceremonial crowns.


First called “lion’s tooth” thanks to the petals’ resemblance to a lion’s sharp teeth. The French translation “dent-de-lion” later changed into the English dandelion.


In Greek mythology, flowers called “asphedelos” covered Elysian fields. Adapting the first d in the name later on, it translated to the modern daffodil.


Born from Old English poetics, daisies are an advanced variant of the phrase “day’s eye”.


Called the “Holly Tree”. Later known as “holly.” Medieval monks believed it would guard them from evil and lightning.


From Latin word lilium, from “lily of the valley”. This is because it was often located in valleys.


From Greek word orchis, “testicle”. Greeks presumed if pregnant women ate these, their unborn child would become a boy.


Coming from the Spanish and Italian rosa. Used to name red flowers.


Photo by Piotr Guzik

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