Chris Fedderson — MacroFine Musings
If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment.
— Georgia O'Keeffe, (1887-1986)
Flowers are amazing. From the intricate ways they work with pollinators to ensure fertilization, to the outlandish measures — and mechanisms — they use to trap food (carnivorous plants), to the range of fragrances (stenches?) that they exude, to the endless variations in their appearance, to the…
Even the ‘simple’ daisy is really not so simple. Back in high school biology with Mr. Stanford (one of the best teachers of the day, by the way, in case his family is reading) I learned that daisies and the like are in the family Compositae meaning composite flowers. Apparently, botanists are now referring to this family as Asteraceae. According to Wikipedia, these flowers have a flower head that “is a special type of inflorescence, in which anything from a small cluster to hundreds or sometimes thousands of flowers are grouped together to form a single flower-like structure”. So ‘a’ daisy is really a bazillion daisies. Who knew?
What is equally intriguing is how we interpret flowers; what meanings we give to them. We all know what he means when he brings you a dozen red roses. But what of a single yellow rose or a white rose or… shudder… a black rose.
Here, the rose is the messenger we employ to deliver our sentiments. But we also have attributed significance and symbolism to flowers that are more ethereal, meant to speak directly to the viewer rather than to be used to convey a message to another person. We have done this with Passion Flowers.
I always thought the name had something to do with Love or Lust or an extreme attachment to, or involvement with, someone or something. Maybe it meant that if they grew wild in your yard then someone really loved you … or something like that. So I Googled it…
Turns out all the various parts — the stigmas, the anthers, the pistils, the petals, — were likened to various aspects of the Crucifixion of Christ. Yikes! Mighty heady message for a flower to bear! So, here’s the deal…
According to the website LocalHarvest,
“The spiraled tendons of the plant, he” (Patrick Jesse Pons-Worley, author of The Passionfruit Cookbook) “notes, were taken as symbols of the lashes Christ endured, and the central flower column as the pillar of the scourging. The 72 radial filaments of the flower were seen as the crown of thorns; the three stigmas as symbols of the nails used in the crucifixion, as well as the holy Trinity; the five anthers, as the five wounds of Christ; and the style as the sponge doused in vinegar used to moisten Christ’s lips. Taken together, the five petals and five sepals were used to refer to the ten apostles who did not either betray or deny Christ. The fragrance of the flower, continued Pons-Worley, helped recall the spices used to embalm the body of Christ. Finally, its globular egg-size fruit was taken as a symbol of the world that Christ saved through his suffering.”
Additionally, the site Passion Flower Basket says,
“The dark spots under the leaves represent the 33 pieces of silver that the Romans paid Judas for betraying Christ. When the passion flower has bloomed and spent its energy in a day (the time that Jesus suffered on the cross), the petals do not fall off but close around the ovary. To Catholics, this represents the hidden mysteries of the cross and the entombment of Christ after his crucifixion. Extending the analogy even further, the passiflora’s round fruit symbolize the world that Christ came to save and its red stains the blood of Christ shed with the crucifixion.”
So, there you have it. The most intricate and heady an attribution I have ever heard of being assigned to a flower. I enjoy them simply for their ridiculous physical complexity. All the crazy parts and colors. Wow!
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. What is your favorite flower? Why? Does it have a special significance relating to your life? Do you just find it pleasing to look at or smell? Is it that you enjoy the butterflies or animals it attracts. Do you know of another story of attribution-to-a-flower like the one for Passion Flowers? Or Dudes, maybe you like ‘em just cuz ‘Chicks dig flowers’…? ;-D
Let us know your thoughts and we’ll all compare notes.
I am a Virginia-based photographer and gather my images while hiking in parks and natural areas here at home and in the locations I travel to. I also love to visit arboretums and botanic gardens to find unusual and exotic subjects.