Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Camellias - the tea bush - first flowers of the new year ...

Dear Mr Postman .. isn't it wonderful that Spring is nearly here .. oh if only the snow would go disappear! .. you must be cold delivering these positive letters and stories to us ..

This evergreen shrub produces the first colour of late winter - early spring .. and my mother loves the feel of the thick green leaves and silky flowers - Janice brought some white ones in for my Ma when I was away in January .. and now we have a magnificent photo of a huge pink bush against a friend's Cornish cottage.

The inventor of the modern naming system "Systema Naturae" .. Carolus Linnaeus 1707 - 1778, as he was known in scientific circles - introduced two great contributions to botany. One was the introduction of binomial nomenclature, and the other was his 'happy intuition about the importance of reproductive organs as determining characteristics in plant classification'.

Plants became named at this time via legend, classical mythology, after eminent people - either as a compliment, or as a form of academic recognition among botanists. So camellia was dedicated by Linnaeus to the 17th century Jesuit George Joseph Camellus, a missionary and pharmacist in Manila who studied the flora of the Philippines. Just by the by .. the name dahlia was given to these American plants by the director of Madrid's royal gardens in memory of the 18th century Swedish botanist Dahl.

The most famous member of the Camellias .. is the tea bush .. look what that's done to the social world .. especially us British with our tea drinking ...

Thank you Mr Postman .. that's so interesting .. especially about the plant naming system and tea - your staple drink I think? ..


Jacques said...

Makes me feel like drinking tea. I never knew there was so much about botany. I like your nuggets of information!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jacques - thanks .. it is interesting the connections across the ages & across the various parts of life, geology, botany, mythology, history .. etc ..

Thanks for the appreciation of nuggets of gold, solace, love etc - Hilary