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|Hyacinthus orientalis, natural form|
Hyacinthus orientalis (common hyacinth, garden hyacinth or Dutch hyacinth), is a perennial flowering plant, native to southwestern Asia, southern and central Turkey, northwestern Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. It was introduced to Europe in the 16th century. It is widely cultivated everywhere in the temperate world for its strongly fragrant flowers which appear exceptionally early in the season, and frequently forced to flower at Christmas time.
It is a bulbous plant, with a 3–7 cm diameter bulb. The leaves are strap-shaped, 15–35 cm long and 1–3 cm broad, with a soft, succulent texture, and produced in a basal whorl. The flowering stem grows to 20–35 cm (rarely to 45 cm) tall, bearing a spike of 2–50 fragrant purple flowers 2–3.5 cm long with a tubular, six-lobed perianth.
In Greek mythology, Hyakinthos was a young man admired by Apollo and Zephyr, but killed by a discus in a jealous fight between the two gods; a flower was allegedly named after him when it sprang from his blood. However, Theophrastus describes both a cultivated and a wild plant called ὑάκινθος (hyakinthos), neither of which are considered to be the modern hyacinth.
The reproduction of the plant in cultivation can be done easily by dividing the newly appeared bulbs from the main plant. In the nature, this method is also used by the Hyacinth but the plant has also specific kind of reproduction by seeds.
The plant is pollinated by different insects such as honey bees. The flowers are very fragrant and attract the insects by rewarding them with nectar.
After flowering the ripening of the seed capsules begins. They are fleshy and spherical structures. When the capsules reach maturity, they get dried and split apart on three parts. Every part has two subdivisions and contains different quantity of seeds. The seeds are black grains with one white elaiosome which size can vary. As it looks since the seeds have such structure, they are dispersed through myrmecochory. Ants find the seeds and take them into their burrows where they use the elaiosome for food. There the seeds can germinate.
H. orientalis has a long history of cultivation as an ornamental plant, grown across the Mediterranean region, and later France (where it is used in perfumery), the Netherlands (a major centre of cultivation) and elsewhere. It flowers in the early spring, growing best in full sun to part shade in well-drained, but not dry, soil. It requires a winter dormancy period, and will only persist in cold-weather regions. It is grown for the clusters of strongly fragrant, brightly coloured flowers. Over 2,000 cultivars have been selected and named, with flower colour varying from blue, white, pale yellow, pink, red or purple; most cultivars have also been selected for denser flower spikes than the wild type, bearing 40–100 or more flowers on each spike.
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- "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
- Raven, J.E. (2000), Plants and Plant Lore in Ancient Greece, Oxford: Leopard Head Press, ISBN 978-0-904920-40-6, pp. 26–27
- "RHS Plant Selector - Hyacinthus orientalis 'Anna Marie'". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Hyacinthus orientalis 'City of Haarlem'". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Hyacinthus orientalis 'Delft Blue'". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Hyacinthus orientalis 'Gipsy Queen'". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Hyacinthus orientalis 'L'Innocence'". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Hyacinthus orientalis 'Ostara'". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Hyacinthus orientalis 'Pink Pearl'". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Bulbs for Christmas flowering". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Forcing spring bulbs". Greenshare factsheets. University of Rhode Island Landscape horticulture program. Retrieved 15 July 2013.