Characteristics of Carnations Plant (Dianthus caryophyllus) in the Wild

Dianthus caryophyllus
Carnations or Clove pink are a species of flowering plant that is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region. But its exact origin is unknown because it has been cultivated extensively for more than 2,000 years.

In 1753 Carl Linnaeus, a botanist described the carnation as a species of Plantarum and gave it the name Dianthus caryophyllus.

Although originally applied to the species Dianthus caryophyllus, the name carnation is also often applied to several other Dianthus species, and more specifically to hybrids in the same genus.

Carnations are mentioned in Greek literature two thousand years ago. The term Dianthus was coined by the Greek botanist, Theophrastus, and comes from the Ancient Greek words “Dios” = divine, and “anthos” = flower.

Some scholars believe that the name “carnation” comes from “coronation” or “corone” (wreath), hence the flower being one of the flowers used in Greek ceremonial crowns.

Others think the name comes from the Latin “caro” meaning flesh, referring to the color of the flowers, or “incarnatio” which refers to God’s artificial incarnation of flesh.

Another legend explains, that a goddess named Diana came to the shepherd boy and liked him. But the boy, for some reason, rejected him. Diana opens her eyes and throws the dianthus/carnations on the ground, and it grows.

Carnations are found growing wild in Mediterranean countries such as in Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Spain.


Characteristics of Carnation Leaf

Dianthus caryophyllus Leaf
Source : benavent

The leaves are grayish-green, slender, and about 10-15 cm long.


Characteristics of Carnations Flower

Dianthus caryophyllus Flower
Source : TERRAZ

The flowers are single or together in a single cyme, about 3-5 cm in diameter, and are fragrant. The original flower color of carnations is light pink to purplish, but the cultivars have other color variations such as red, white, yellow, and green.


Characteristics of Carnations Plant

Dianthus caryophyllus Plant
Source :

Carnation plants can grow up to 80 cm. To thrive, carnations need good drainage, moist soil, and full sun all day long.

Several cultivars have been selected for ornamental purposes, including:

  • Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Gina Porto’
  • Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Helen’
  • Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Laced Romeo’
  • Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Red Rocket’


In 1907, Anna Jarvis chose a carnation as the symbol of Mother’s Day because it was her mother’s favorite flower. This tradition is now appreciated in the United States and Canada on the second Sunday of May. Ann Jarvis chose white carnations because she wanted to represent the pure love of a mother. This meaning has evolved, and now the red carnation is used if the mother is still alive, and the white one if the mother has died.

In Korea, carnations represent admiration, love, and gratitude. Red and pink carnations are used on Parents Day, May 8, and Teachers Day, May 15.

Apart from the two national traditions above, red carnations are also used on May Day as a symbol of socialism and the labor movement in several countries, such as Austria, Italy, and the successor countries of the former Yugoslavia. The red carnation is also a symbol of the Revolution in Portugal.

The carnation plant can also be used for medical purposes to treat stomach aches and fevers.


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