Guest Blogger Dan Meiners from STUDIO Dan Meiners
Shaggy mops. Perfect little spheres. Peony look-alikes. Layered masterpieces the size of dinner plates. From pure white to nearly black and almost every shade in between…what flower can boast such feats of versatility? Why only the dahlia, of course.
Native to Mexico, where it grows in sandy meadows at an elevation 5,000 feet above the sea, the dahlia was originally cultivated by the ancient Aztecs, who used its tuberous roots as a source of food, converted its long, woody stems into pipes, and adorned their ceremonial costumes with the blooms. In the late 1700’s, Spanish explorers introduced dahlias to Europe, where they were originally grown as a food source. Though their striking good looks quickly overtook their flavor as a reason for propagation, dahlias are still valued today by chefs, who take advantage of the mild-tasting edible petals to add bold color to a myriad of dishes.
In the Victorian language of flowers, dahlias mean elegance and dignity, and in Chinese floral symbolism they represent good taste. In addition to being a paragon of sophistication and glamour, the dahlia also has a remarkable history of saving lives: it is one of only two sources of a natural sugar called Laevulose, which was used to treat diabetes in tens of thousands of people until insulin was discovered in 1922.
The dahlia’s diversity of form and function, incredible loveliness, and universal appeal led Mexico to declare it the national flower, and have made it the second-highest grossing crop in floriculture after tulips. We love dahlias for their sturdiness, longevity, and big, bold presence in arrangements, and look forward to their arrival in the flower houses every summer.