A wildflower is a flower that is able to grow independently, in a natural environment without human assistance. Wildflowers grow and bloom without a seed, and are found in many regions of the world. Each continent has indigenous species, and some also have species that have been introduced from other continents. The first are called "natives", the latter are referred to as "naturized", the common element between the both is they can grow unaided.
There are over 20,000 species of wildflowers growing in America belonging to more than 300 different families. The species are identified by their colour, the shape of the flower and it's geographic origin.
All flowering plants, including wildflowers, are called Angiosperms. These flowering plants appeared suddenly and miraculously 80-90 million years ago, and today they are the most abundant plant on earth.
During the Middle Ages, research was carried out that that identified over 6000 species of Angiosperms, some of them being wildflowers. From the 17th to 19th centuries there was a boom in botany research and more species of plants and flora were classified. One of the famous works was carried out by Charles Darwin who produced Origin of the Species however many other botanists also conducted research on American wildflowers.
In the 1900s the English and Europeans developed a fascination with growing these flowers of the wild. This interest developed primarily from wealthy people who were accustomed to having their garden maintained, and could afford to experiment with new ideas. One of the famous works written in this time was written by Gertrude Jeckyll who encouraged the idea of growing the wildflower in a natural environment.
Today there is a strong interest in growing wildflowers, so much so that it is possible to buy them in packs of seed mixture.
Uses of Wildflowers
For centuries the American Indians used American wildflowers for medicinal purposes, and their practices have been adopted by western practitioners and herbalists. Of the 20,0000 species growing in America, 10% of them are used for medicinal purposes. The Indians used wildflowers to cure a range of different illnesses.
While it was the American Indians who were experts in the use of wildflowers for medicinal purposes, one English physician and botonist, William Withering, also discovered that American wildflowers could be used medicinally. In 1775 he treated a woman suffering from fluid retention by creating a melée of herbal ingredients. Not only did he cure the woman, but he was also able to discover which wildflower in his concoction was the one plant that worked the miracle. The special ingredient was the Foxgrove plant, which is still used today to treat heart diseases.
These flowers are still crucial today, constituting up to 25% of the basic ingredients for today's medicines. Herbal medicines have become more and more popular and now many people opt for herbal remedies and supplements over prescription medications.
Not only can the wildflower be used medicinally, but it has also been used as a rich source of food, and like trees, is also a source of oxygen.
How do wildflowers get their names
A system called plant Taxonomy is used for the naming of a wildflower . This system has four crucial parts - describing, classifying, identifying and naming. For centuries this system of naming plants has been used, with evidence from archaeological studies indicating that the earliest humans used the classifying stage to decipher poisonsess plants from non-poisoness plants, which was crucial to their survival.
All plants have two names, one being a scientific name spelled using the Roman alphabet. Some of the names relate to the way the wildflowers look and feel. The Sandpaper plant (Petalonyx Thurberi) received it`s name due to the feel of it`s leaves. The Cheese Bush (Hymenoclea Salsola) received its name simply because it smells like cheese.
There are hundreds of names of wildflowers, some are of the names are logical, some some them not, and many of them have bizarre, humerous and interesting names, all of which are worth reading about.