Most people might think of hot, arid deserts when they think of Egypt, but in fact there are many areas such as the lush Nile region that enable many fine-looking flowers to grow. According to Jane Howard in her article "The Flowers of Ancient Egypt and Today," ancient Egypt was conceivably the first country to distinguish "national" plants, the lotus and papyrus being especially important to them. These are a few common flowers that grow in Egypt today.
Also called the water lily, these large flowers grow naturally in the wet regions in and along the Nile River. There are both blue and white water lilies. The blue ones are more pointed in their petal shapes and have smooth edges on broad floating leaves. The white ones have more rounded petals and a less powerful fragrance. The lotus was depicted in many pieces of ancient Egyptian art and was associated with the cycle of life. It was thought that the stronger the fragrance, the stronger the presence of god.
These sharp, spiky plants are characterized by their purple flower heads, which look a bit like a small pincushion stuck full of purple pins. These are in the Asteraceae (Aster) family and grow on coarse leafy stems. Their prickly appearance and touch is a natural deterrent to keep herbivores (plant-eating animals) from eating them. Several flower heads grow on one inflorescence, and the male flower heads are a bit showier than the female ones.
Poppies have been in Egypt since ancient times and have been used not only as flower decorations but privileged priests and warriors also used the flowers for their opium. According to L.D. Kapoor in the book "Opium Poppy," opium was a famous drug in Egypt, and poppy products were used as narcotics and pain relievers over the centuries. Cultivation of the poppy in Egypt developed during the Arab rule in the seventh century when it was exported (from Alexandria) to India and Europe as well. Though the blooms are mostly reddish in color, they can also be white, yellow, orange, pink or blue. The round, delicate paper-like petals form a dish-shape and are four to six in number. One flower blooms on each tall, hairy stem.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.