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Zinnia elegans Jacq. 1792
pronounced: ZIN-yuh ELL-ee-ganz
(Asteraceae – the daisy family)
common name: Zinnia
Zinnia was named by Linnaeus in honour of Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727–1759), German anatomist and botanist. Considering the shortness of his life, Zinn made enormous contributions both to anatomy and botany. His book Descriptio anatomica oculi humani† was the first ever detailed and comprehensive study of the eye’s anatomy. He was the first to describe the genus Epipactis in the family of Orchidaceae. He became the director of the Botanic Garden and professor of anatomy of the University of Göttingen while still in his mid-20s. Elegans is Latin for choice, tasteful, elegant.
This is a genus of 20 species of annual and perennial plants, originally from scrub and dry grassland in an area stretching from the American south-west to South America, but primarily from Mexico. They are noted for their solitary long-stemmed flowers that come in a variety of bright colours.
Zinnia leaves are opposite, and usually sessile, with a shape ranging from linear to ovate, and pale to middle green in colour. The flowers have a range of appearances, from a single row of petals to a dome shape. They are popular garden flowers, usually grown from seed, and preferably in fertile, humus-rich and well-drained soil, in an area with full sun. They will reseed themselves each year. Over 100 cultivars have been produced since selective breeding began in the 19th century. Many species of butterflies are attracted to Zinnias.
Devotees of Dr Edward Bach’s flower remedies may be interested to know that, although it is not one of the original Bach essences, some practitioners of his method are now offering a Zinnia flower essence.
† An Anatomical Description of the Human Eye
Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2010
Page last updated 11th March 2017