Wisconsin State Horticultural Society / Annual report of the Wisconsin State Horticultural Society for the year ending July 1, 1921
Vol. LI (1921)
Elver, Elmore T.
The gladiolus, pp. 122-126 PDF (1.2 MB)
WISCONSIN STATE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY sword. It may be correctly and interchangeably pronounced gla- di-o-lus or gla-di-o-lus. The plural is properly glad-i-o-li, altho it is sometimes written gladioluses. Botanically, gladioli are cormaceous plants belonging to the family Iridaceae, to which family also belong the crocus, ixia, freesia and iris. The corms of the different species vary in size, shape and color. Usually they are white, yellowish or red, covered with a brown skin. The size of the plants vary from a few inches to three or four feet. The leaves, which contribute so much to the beauty of the plant, vary in length, breadth, and color, some of the species having only two leaves and others four or six. The leaves are slender and graceful, often recurved, so as to give the flower spike, which arises at the summit of this plant, more prominence. The flowers in some species are arranged on only one side of the stems, on others on both sides. The gladiolus does not enjoy the historical prestige, nor has it been revered in poetry and song to the extent of many of our garden beauties. The homage paid the rose fills volumes; the peony was a great favorite before the birth of Christ; the hya- cinth is named after Hyacinthus, the beautiful boy, beloved of Apollo, and the narcissus after narcissus, the handsome youth, for whom Echo, the nymph, pined away in unrequitted love, until she became a mere voice. Notwithstanding the distinction accorded to these favorites, we are willing to agree with Sir Francis Bacon that God created flowers before He created man, and while our favorite was created at the same time as other flowers, its virtues were dis- covered later, but when once found and developed, sought and found its place at the top. Considering the gladiolus historically, it is, however, not im- probable that the Greeks and Romans both made use of the na- tive species, and mention is made thereof in the writings of Dioscorides, and Atheneus tells us that gladioli were planted on the graves of the virgins. The botanists and herbalists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, dealing with the plants of Europe, gave little attention to the gladiolus and it is not until the middle of the eighteenth century that we can discover any considerable classification or addition of species. 123
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