by Julie Christensen
Flowers aren’t just beautiful and fragrant. They’ve been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, for making dyes, and even for food. In medieval times, some flowers were thought to have magical powers. You can use flowers for crafts and recipes, or simply enjoy learning about them. Read on to learn more about flowers with these flower facts for kids.
- Flowers may look sweet, but some are deadly. Carnivorous plants like the Venus Fly Trap get nutrition from eating insects. The Venus Fly Trap has thick leaves that are covered with small hairs. When an insect lands on these hairs, the leaves snap together—in less than one second. The plant produces digestive juices like those found in your stomach, which digest the bug in just a few days.
- In ancient times, people burned aster leaves to ward off evil spirits and serpents.
- Some roses are named after celebrities. Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Streisand all have roses named for them.
- In the 1600s, tulips were so valued that they were worth more than gold!
- Roses are part of the Rosaceae botanical family and are related to apples, pears, almonds, raspberries, cherries, peaches and apricots.
- Flowers have different meanings in different cultures. The Japanese associate chrysanthemums with happiness and joy. The flower is portrayed on flags and murals. In Malta, though, chrysanthemums are associated with death and funerals. It is considered bad luck to bring them indoors.
- Some flowers smell like rotting flesh. The titan arum is also called the corpse flower because of its foul smell. The blossoms of Bradford Pear trees are equally offensive.
- Mom might tell you to eat your veggies, but did you know broccoli is technically a flower? The green florets on broccoli stalks are actually immature flowers. If left to grow, they open into tiny yellow flowers.
- During Victorian times, flowers were used to communicate feelings or thoughts. For example, a pink carnation meant, “I’ll never forget you,” while a striped carnation sent the message, “No, I can’t be with you.” A purple hyacinth meant, “I’m sorry,” while a yellow one meant, “I’m jealous.”
- Have you ever picked cattails growing alongside a stream? Pulling the fuzzy cattails apart is great fun, but those fuzzy flowers are also very useful. Pioneers roasted and ate young cattails and their shoots. They also used them to stuff their beds. Cattail juice was used to treat toothache and the leaves were woven into baskets. The root was pounded and used as a poultice to treat wounds.
- Lavender is a beautiful purple flower that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has a clean, arresting scent that is known to relax people. Today, lavender is used in wreaths, potpourris and linen sprays. In medieval times, lavender was used to treat illnesses and ward off head lice, cholera and even the plague.
- Many orchids don’t need soil to grow — they can get all the nutrients they need from the air instead!
- On warm summer nights, gas plants give off a clear gas that can be lit on fire by a match.
- Moonflowers bloom only at night. Their cousins, morning glories, bloom in the morning.
- Flowers were popular as girls’ names in the Victorian age. Today, those names are making a comeback. Do you know anyone named Lily, Violet or Chrysanthemum? Would you like to be named after a flower? Read Kevin Henke’s silly story, Chrysanthemum.
- Did you know you can make necklaces or crowns from flowers? Try weaving sunflowers or daisies together.
- Sunflowers produce substances that are toxic to other plants. Other plants growing around sunflowers may slowly die. The famous painter Vincent Van Gogh was fascinated by sunflowers and completed 11 paintings of the cheery flowers.
- Dandelions are usually thought of as weeds, but did you know they’re highly nutritious? The leaves and flowers are a good source of iron, vitamin A and potassium. Dandelion leaves are known to improve skin’s appearance and cleanse the liver. Saute dandelions or add them to salads — just make sure they haven’t been treated with herbicides. Drink a tea made from dried dandelion leaves.
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Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.