Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Anemones and daisies

The very first plants that left an impression on me as a child were anemones and daisies. They bloomed around the same time of the year in the same places. We used to go on drives along the two lane Izmir highway until about twenty km. out of Aydın and stop by the roadside to gather anemones and daisies in the spring. Spring arrived early, sometimes as early as mid-March in the Aegean region of Turkey where we lived.

The times that I’m talking about are when I was growing up in the 1950’s and onwards. We called the anemones ‘dağ lalesi’ which can be translated as mountain tulip.

Anemones came in many colors and they would still be buds when we picked them; they opened up in our vases. I no longer have the chance to go back to the springs of my childhood. At around the time the plants of my memories began to occupy my thoughts more and more, luckily I came upon Hasan Beden’s Facebook page and by contacting him personally I shared his pictures of anemones taken in the meadows of Bafa Lake and Latmos Mountain regions. He lived and photographed the beauty I could only experience in my mind. Mr. Beden passed away in the spring of 2014 (https://www.facebook.com/www.bafagolu.org).

                                            Photographs: Hasan Beden in the Bafa Lake region in March

The scientific name of the anemones we picked is Anemone coronaria L. The initial after the name of a plant indicates who first described and named the plant. The L. stands for Carl Linnaeus. In naming plants two words are used. The first word names the genus and the second word names the species the plant belongs to. This system of using binomials to describe a specific plant was begun in the 18th century by the Swedish botanist C. Linnaeus. Since then an International Code of Botanical Nomenclature for naming plants has been developed.

A.coronaria grows naturally in Western Turkey. The flower belongs to the Ranunculaceae family of plants.

We learn from Wikipedia that The Oxford English Dictionary points out that in Greek anemōnē means "daughter of the wind", from ánemos "wind" + feminine patronymic suffix -ōnē. We also learn that the Roman poet Ovid tells in his work the Metamorphoses that the plant was created by the goddess Venus when she sprinkled nectar on the blood of her dead lover Adonis.

Another source tells us that Aphrodite was in love with the handsome Adonis. When one day out hunting Adonis was tragically wounded by his jealous rival the god Ares. Aphrodite rushed to his side and held him in her arms as he was dying. Drops of his blood spilled and became red anemones. Aphrodite looked for him after Adonis had gone to the underworld and she made a bargain with the goddess of the underworld. Adonis would live again; he would come to the hills of Byblos for six months each year during spring and summer, and return to the underworld for fall and winter.

No wonder I find anemones so enchanting.

                                                            Photograph: Hasan Beden

What kind of daisies grew alongside the anemones I can only guess. There are thousands of kinds of daisies and since I have no botanical training I could only discern that the ones I picked were called Leuchanthemum vulgare because the word vulgare defines them as common. The name Leucanthemum derives from the Greek words leukos ("white") and anthemon ("flower").

I loved the simple beauty of the daisies. My mother had told me that pilaf is what I used to call the fields full of daisies. They are of the Asteraceae family. This kind of daisy is native to Europe and the temperate regions of Asia.

I remember how my family would wait for these spring flowers to emerge every year. The times I picked flowers in nature as a little girl are some of the best times of my life.

With my beloved Aunt Ayten


  1. Lovely! I've always wanted to try making a daisy chain...

  2. Hi Beste - I came over via Deniz ... and I love anemones - they grow prolifically in Cornwall .. and my mother loved them, so when she was ill when I saw bunches I'd take them in .. quite often this time of year - now - but they should be Spring plants ..

    I expect most of your Turkish wonders were sent in our direction ... as our plants came from the Persian and Turkish regions in ancient times ...

    Lovely stories you're telling about your plants ... cheers Hilary