Last Updated on March 10, 2023 by Griselda M.
Greece is a warm European country with fertile soil, which is why many gardeners ask about traditional Greek flowers and the history behind them. This country has an intriguing history with flowers, and in today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at the most popular flowers in Greece, the tradition behind them, and what Greek flowers you can grow on your own!
Most Popular Greek Flowers
One of the most common flowers you’ll come across in Greece is the oleander. These flowers grow pretty much everywhere in the country, and they usually come in white and pink. Interestingly, the Greeks aren’t exactly planting them. Oleanders grow so plentifully there that they’re almost considered a weed.
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The Greek Peony
These peonies, typically red, grow near Delphi – the ancient prophecy site. They grow to a height of 5 000 feet, and they have the innate ability to freeze during the winter but still survive it. This flower is, unfortunately, endangered, and it’s almost become an endemic species.
Interestingly, this flower dons its name after Paean – a character from Greek mythology. According to the myth, he was the first person to discover the medical powers of peonies.
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Aster – Greek Flowers
These flowers, which are both easy to grow and to maintain, don their name after the word ‘aster’, which means ‘star’ in ancient Greek. They’re very reminiscent of a star in their shape, and they’re also similar to daisies. However, unlike daisies, they don’t only come in white, as they appear in blue, pink, purple, and some other iterations too.
According to Greek mythology, Zeus decided to cast a flood upon the planet because men became evil. Goddess Astraea was saddened by this idea, and she wished to become a star. Once in the sky, she started crying when she saw all the destruction, and every tear she dropped on the ground grew into one of the flowers.
Dianthus, literally meaning ‘the God-flower’ or ‘flower of the Gods’, is a beautiful flower, typically growing in various shades of pink and sometimes purple. In some traditions, this is the flower that people leave on a grave once a person dies. Within this genus, there are perennials, biennials, and annuals.
According to legend, Artemis (goddess of the hunt) failed to kill anything on one of her hunting trips and found a shepherd playing the flute on the way home. She immediately blamed his music and gouged his eyes out. Once she had calmed down, she felt so terrible about what she did that dianthus started to grow on the spot where the shepherd’s eyes fell on the ground.
Hyacinths – Greek Flowers
Hyacinths are flowers that produce an instantly-recognizable scent, they’re usually shaped like a bell, and they come in several colors; red, blue, white, yellow, pink, and the color of lavender.
The name hyacinth comes from a character from Greek mythology – Hyacinthos. Hyacinthos was a lover of Apollo – he was particularly popular because of his incredible beauty. However, the west wind, Zephyrus, was jealous of Apollo, and he decided to kill Hyacinthos one day by blowing a stone discus into his head.
Apollo cried, and every tear that fell to the ground became a flower.
National Greek Flowers
Interestingly, Greece is one of the few countries in the world without an official national flower. Many flowers are associated with Greece to the point where they might as well be the national flower, but there is no consensus on an official national flower of this beautiful country. This isn’t odd; however, given that there are dozens of beautiful flower species serving an everyday purpose in the lives of the Greeks, it is questionable.
One such example is the violet, which was the official flower of Athens a few hundred years ago. This is because the flower was also called “ion” – the legend that’s nowadays credited for founding Athens. Apparently, nymphs greeted Ion with violets, and he simply decided to stay there and start a city.
What Greece does have, however, are national plants. One such example is the laurel. This plant has been prominent in Greece for a very long time, and it also served as a crown for the winners of the Olympic games. Traditionally, there is a legend that laurels have cleansing powers for both the mind and body.
Similar to the laurel, the other plant that’s connected to Greece and considered to be a national plant is the olive. Olives grow intensely all over the Mediterranean. In tradition, olive trees symbolize peace and mercy, which is why the handing of an olive branch is a symbolic peace offering. It’s also symbolic of safety, as in the bible, a pigeon brought Noah an olive branch as confirmation that the flood has pulled back.
Flowers Native to Greece
When it comes to flowers native to Greece, there are quite a few that are recognized by gardeners worldwide. Coming in a variety of colors to beautify and garden or landscape are anemones and poppies that are recognizable vistas. These native flowers grow in shades of red which is quite rare, pink, and include yellow daisies, gladioli, and iris blooms. Orchids are also widely grown in Greece and often spread beautifully along the roadside.
Ancient Greek Flowers
It is believed that ancient Greek flowers are relevant to this day because of the extraordinary powers displayed by Greek Gods and Goddesses that willed them into existence intentionally and unintentionally. The creation of flowers, according to Greek mythology, is also quite fascinating and worth knowing about. Listed below is some useful information about them that will intrigue you.
The existence of flowers according to Greek Mythology:
1. Chloris, who is known as the Goddess of flowers, gained popularity with ancient Greeks, while the Romans referred to the flower as Goddess Flora.
2. Some ancient Greek flowers are known to have come into existence because of tragic events, while the development of other Greek blooms is attributed to happier times.
3. We all know that the rose, which often symbolizes love and beauty, is appreciated universally. Therefore, the Goddess of love known as Aphrodite is often associated with beautiful rose blooms. However, according to Greek mythology, the Greek Goddess of flowers, Chloris, is believed to be the creator of the rose bloom. This is because it is believed that, to make her an eternal being, she turned the body of a good-looking nymph that she located in the forest into a rose.
4. Did you know that more than forty Narcissus species are in existence today? The most notable ones include the poet’s narcissus and the daffodil. The daffodil came about because Goddess Aphrodite, also known as Venus, placed a curse on Narcissus to fall in love with himself. This was due to him ignoring a beautiful nymph’s affections continually. After being mesmerized by his reflection and withering away in the process, it is believed that he became a stunning flower after his demise.
5. The Iris flower is also another notable bloom amongst ancient Greek flowers. It comes from the messenger of the Greek Gods known as the Goddess of the rainbow. It is said that Iris is the link to heaven and earth, hence the presence of her beautiful blooms, which come in a variety of colors.
Greek Names for Flowers
While some Greek names for flowers are related to tragedy, their relevant beauty cannot be ignored. According to an ancient Greek myth, Venus and her magic mirror are also related to someone who was enchanted by their reflection, similar to Narcissus. However, in this case, the outcome doesn’t come close to the fate that Narcissus met. When
Venis lost her magic mirror, and Eros, or Cupid as he is commonly known, went on the hunt for it. During this hunt, he found the mirror in the possession of a shepherd boy who had found it and did not want to return it. While Eros tried to get a hold of it, it fell to the ground and shattered. The broken pieces bloomed into beautiful bellflowers, which sounded quite incredible.
Here are a few Greek names for flowers:
- Anemone – gets its name from the ancient Greek Gods of the four winds known as Anemoi.
- Adonis – is the Greek name for yellow pheasant’s eye blooms.
- Daphne – is a flower that is associated by name only when it comes to Greek mythology. It is said that Daphne was pursued by Apollo.
- Heliotrope – is a sunflower that is associated with the God of the sun known as Helios. But, the flower is associated more with Apollo as Helios was defeated by him.
Because of its geographical position and its lovely weather, Greece is completely overflowing with flowers. Some of the most common flowers you’ll see there are oleanders, Greek peonies, violets, dianthuses, and hyacinths. Most of these flowers are connected to Greek mythology in one way or another.
When it comes to traditional Greek flowers, they don’t have a fixed official flower, and they’re one of the few countries that have no clear consensus on that. They do, however, have olives and laurels as their official plants, which are both deeply ingrained with this country’s history, as well as the history of their capital – Athens.
Who is the Greek goddess of flowers?
In ancient Greek mythology, Chloris was the goddess of flowers. There was also Antheia, the goddess of swamps and flowery wreaths.
How do you say 'bet the flowers are blooming nicely' in Greek?
Vázo stoíchima óti ta louloúdia anthízoun ómorfa.
When do the flowers in Greek islands fall apart?
Fall and spring are probably the best times to visit Greek islands if you're interested in seeing flowers. During the winter, the weather isn't as wet and it gets colder, so flowers start freezing.
What flowers go well with a tall Greek vase?
Oleanders and violets are some of the most common flowers in Greece, and if you want to stay true to the style of your vase, that combination would be best.
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