Botanical name: Hyacinthus orientalis Family: Asparagaceae (Asparagus family)
The hyacinth is a bulbous perennial herb in the lily family, grown for its showy and fragrant springtime flower display. Four to six shiny narrow straplike leaves and a central flower stalk emerge from the squat subterranean bulb in early to mid spring. The 12 in (30.5 cm) stalk is crowded with colorful flowers that, depending on cultivar, may be red, orange, pink, yellow, white, lavender or blue. The individual flowers are funnel shaped, single or double, and the six lobes may be strongly reflexed to merely spreading. Many have intensely sweet fragrances. There are more than 60 cultivars available. Those in the Multiflora Group have several flowering stalks. Roman hyacinth (H. orientalis var. albulus) is smaller than the typical form, and has blue or white flowers that aren't as crowded on the stalk. The hyacinth hails originally from the Mediterranean region, from North Africa, through Greece, to Asia Minor and Syria. According to Homer, the hyacinth first grew from where the blood of Hyakinthos, the youthful warrior accidentally killed by Apollo, was shed upon the ground.
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