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Dianthus caryophyllus Flower.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Dianthus caryophyllus

650px-Dianthus caryophyllus L (Clove pink).JPG
A carnation with a pink clove

The Carnation is a species of flowering plant known by the scientific name Dianthus caryophyllus. They are best known for flower cultivars that are now available with dense numbers of petals. The carnation normally has five petals per flower but there have been cultivators that have double flowers with as many as forty petals. Their petals have a clawed or serrated look. These bisexual flowers (they can contain both male and female reproductive structures) grow in either a branched or forked cluster.[3] The herbaceous leaves are mostly linear, opposite, or simple. The stems of these plants are woody, but the branches are herbaceous. The colors of the leaves are a grayish green to a blue-green color reaching up to fifteen centimeters long.[4]


Anatomy of a Flower

All flowers have many different structures to them that make them unique to other living organisms. All these structures can make up plants and help show us some of the little beauties God created. The calyx is a petal-like structure, it is an outer part of the plant that has a greenish color. It makes up the bud of the plant which holds the pre-sprouted flower. Sepals are made up of the calyx and are similar to petals. They also are what helps give the plant its photosynthesis abilities. The corolla is made of all of the plants petals. Its beautiful, natural color attracts pollinating insects.[5]

In flowering plants, the flower is the main reproductive structure. The flower makes seeds to continue the growth of more of its own kind. The carnation is a plant that contains both the male and female reproductive structure,, which typically can make pollination of the plant easier. The androecium is part of the male structures of the plant. It holds the anther which is where the male gametes are produced. The female section of the plant is called the gynoecium. The carpel contains the reproductive organs and the ovary, which contains the ovules or eggs.[6]

Life Cycle

Carnation flower buds

Seeds of a carnation can sprout within three days of being planted. The germination period can vary due to the temperature around the seed or the type of carnation from ten days to three weeks. Light is not a requirement for the seed to germinate, but the seed needs to absorb sunlight for its early growth stages using its two seed leaves. While the seedling continues to grow, true leaves are produced. When there is enough leaves, they can be used to help support the plant. Six or more hours of sunlight a day is needed to help keep the seedling growing. Moist soil further aids the growth of the plant. Although, if the plant has too much water and becomes soggy, it can yellow the plant. Flowering from the buds can begin as early as four to six weeks after sprouting. During the growth stages, the plant begins to grow into its full height which can range from eight to twenty-four inches.[7]

Dormancy is an act of defense for the plant during the colder seasons. The lack of daylight and heat causes the plant to die down into the ground. Since the plant is a perennial, its roots stay alive underground. A layer of mulch grows over the roots and insulates them so they do not freeze. In the spring time, when the soil gets warmer along with the outside temperatures and amount of light, the plant will begin this process all over again. [7]


This plant is probably most native to Eurasia and the Mediterranean Sea. It has been cultivated so much over the past hundreds of years that its exact range is unknown. Today, carnations are not seen in the wild except occasionally in some Mediterranean countries. Having been cultivated for over the last two thousand years, carnations have been used for different reasons even in the Middle Ages. Some carnations were used to make perfumes during that time. Many have been genetically modified to produce various colors or to keep their vase life longer. In Korea, children give red and pink carnations to their parents for Parents Day to show their love and gratitude for them.[4]

Most importers and growers of carnations used come from locations in Florida, California, and other regions in the western and southern United States, growing most of the nation's carnations. But recently, there's been a shift in the fresh flower market from domestic to foreign producers. Most of the United States cut flowers sold today are from the Latin American country of Columbia. The leading international exporter of fresh cut carnations now is in fact Columbia. The reason were able to have carnations all year round is due to the importation of them from different areas around the world with different growing seasons than us.[8]

Cultural Significance

The carnation is one of the oldest cultivated flowering plants and has been a favorite choice of flowers for centuries. Its scientific name dianthus roughly means "flower of love" or "flower of the gods". This plant dates back to Roman and Greek times being used for its color and beauty in art masterpieces. It has been thought that the flower was first bloomed the day Mary wept for Jesus on the cross. The color of this flower has grown over time. When first discovered, the colors were mostly pink and peachy, but the palette has also added greens, purples, reds, yellows, and whites.[9]

The flowers colors have different messages people want to send to each other in them. White for example is thought to be associated with purity and luck. Pink for gratitude, light red for admiration, dark red for deep sentiments of love. The popularity and love for this flower continues to grow captivating people's attention from around the world.[9] Few scholars believe that the word "carnation" could be derived from the word "coronation" or "corone" that were worn in many Greek ceremonial crowns. Some think that is could come from the Latin word "carnis", meaning flesh. The word refers to incarnation, referring to the incarnation of God becoming flesh.[4]


Have a beautiful garden by growing carnations from a bunch of flowers.


  1. Dianthus caryophyllus L. USDA. Web. Unknown Author. Date accessed 14 May 2015.
  2. Dianthus caryophyllus Wikespecies. Web. Unknown Author. Last Modified 7 December 2013.
  3. Carnations The Flower Expert. Unknown Author. Web. Date updated 25 May 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Carnation New World Encyclopedia. Unknown Author. Web. Date updated 10 April 2013.
  5. Harness, Jill. Parts of Carnation Flower Garden Guides. Web. Date accessed 17 May 2015.
  6. Hubbard, Elisa. Flower Anatomy Micscape Magazine (Microscopy-UK). Web. Date accessed 17 May 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harrington, Jenny. What Is the Life Cycle of a Carnation? SFGate. Web. Date accessed 17 May 2015.
  8. Where Do Carnations Come From? Proflowers. Unknown Author. Web. Date published 10 June 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 History and Meaning of Carnations Proflowers. Unknown Author. Web. Date published 24 August 2012.