The carnation, also known by the nickname ‘carn,’ has been cultivated for centuries for its ruffled blooms, favoured for its fragrance and hardiness.
The scientific name Dianthus caryophyllus contains the Greek word ‘dianthus’ which means “flower of the gods,’ and the original pink blooms of the flower led to its common name which is said to mean ‘flesh toned.’
Others believe carnation gets its name from the word ‘coronation’ or the Greek word for ‘flower garlands’ which is ‘corone.’
This Eurasian plant has a spice scent, and is also called the Clove Pink or Gillyflower, and can be found in numerous colours ranging from pink to purple-red and are said the symbolize love, fascination and distinction.
As legend has it, pink carnations were said to have appeared below the Virgin Mary’s tears as Jesus carried the cross and as a result, the pink variety symbolizes a mother’s love.
This connection between the carnation and Mary was immortalized in the 1475 painting “The Madonna with the Carnation” by Leonardo da Vinci. It is housed in Munich, Germany as part of a collection of famous works and is also called the “Munich Madonna.”
Carnations carried the meanings of love, fascination and distinction.
Other meanings attached to carnation colours include passionate love (red), rejection or distain (yellow), innocence and steadfastness (white) and whimsical and capricious (purple).