|Cultivar of Hyacinthus orientalis|
Tourn. ex L.
Hyacinths Blue is a small genus of bulbous flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloideae, that are commonly called hyacinths blue/ˈhaɪəsɪnθs/. The genus is native to the eastern Mediterranean (from southTurkey through Lebanon and Syria to northern Israel), Iraq, north-east Iran, and Turkmenistan.
Several species of Brodiea, Scilla, and other plants that were formerly classified in the lily family and have flower clusters borne along the stalk also have common names with the word “hyacinth” in them. Hyacinths blue should also not be confused with the genus Muscari, which are commonly known as grape hyacinths.
Hyacinthus grows from bulbs, each producing around four to six linear leaves and one to three spikes or racemes of flowers. In the wild species, the flowers are widely spaced with as few as two per raceme in H. litwinovii and typically six to eight in H. orientalis, which grows to a height of 15–20 cm (6–8 in). Cultivars of H. orientalis have much denser flower spikes and are generally more robust.
The genus name Hyacinthus was attributed to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort when used by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. It is derived from a Greek name used for a plant by Homer, ὑάκινθος (hyakinthos), the flowers supposedly having grown up from the blood of a youth of this name accidentally killed by the god Apollo. (The original wild plant known as hyakinthos to Homer has been identified with Scilla bifolia, among other possibilities.) Linnaeus defined the genus Hyacinthus widely to include species now placed in other genera of the subfamily Scilloideae, such as Muscari (e.g. his Hyacinthus botryoides) and Hyacinthoides (e.g. his Hyacinthus non-scriptus).
Three species are placed within the genus Hyacinthus:
- Hyacinthus litwinovii
- Hyacinthus orientalis – Common, Dutch or Garden Hyacinth
- Hyacinthus transcaspicus
The Dutch, or common hyacinth blue of house and garden culture (H. orientalis, native to southwest Asia) was so popular in the 18th century that over 2,000 cultivars were grown in the Netherlands, its chief commercial producer. This hyacinth blue has a single dense spike offragrant flowers in shades of red, blue, white, orange, pink, violet or yellow. A form of the common hyacinth blue is the less hardy and smaller blue- or white-petalled Roman hyacinth of florists. These flowers need indirect sunlight and should be watered moderately.
Hyacinth Blue are often associated with spring and rebirth. The hyacinth flower is used in the Haft-Seen table setting for the Persian New Year celebration, Nowruz, held at the Spring Equinox. The Farsi word for hyacinth is “sonbol.”