Hyacinthus orientalis (Common Hyacinth)

I’m back in Florida again, so as soon as I entered a supermarket, I noticed a potted Hyacinthus. I had no idea it was so fragrant. So I decided to write a post.
JacintoHyacinthus orientalis (Common Hyacinth) Aka Dutch Hyacinthus, Garden Hyacinthus, or Jacinto (in Spanish), is native to Turkey and the Middle East, and along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Hardy to USDA zones 3a to 7b. All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested. Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction, and pollen may cause allergic reaction also.HyacinthHyacinths were grown in Europe in the time of the Greeks and Romans. Both Homer and Virgil noted their sweet fragrance. After this, the Hyacinth faded from history and did not reappear until the 16th century when it was reintroduced into Western Europe from Turkey and Iran. Leonhardt Rauwolf, (a German doctor) collected some Hyacinths when he visited Turkey in 1573. Hyacinths have been cultivated commercially since the second half of the 16th century. They became very popular in 18th and early 19th century Europe. 

JacintoHyacinthus orientalis is a spring flowering bulb that produces spikes of flowers noted for their intense, often overpowering, fragrance. Typically grows 6-10” tall. Each bulb sends up 3-4 strap-shaped green leaves in early spring and a stiff densely flowered spike of extremely fragrant tubular flowers. In the U.S., Hyacinthus is considered to belong to the Asparagaceae family, but in other countries, it’s grouped with the Liliaceae family.

HyanthusEtymology of Hyanthus: in the 1550s, “the plant hyacinth;” re-Greeked from jacinth (late 14c.) “jacinth” meant  “blue cornflower,” which earlier was the name of a precious stone blue (rarely red) in color (c. 1200), from Old French  “jacinte” and Medieval Latin “jacintus”, ultimately from Greek hyakinthos, which is probably ultimately from a non-Indo-European Mediterranean language. The flower is said to have the letters “AI” or “AIAI” (Greek cry of grief) on its petals. The modern use in reference to a particular flowering plant genus is from 1570s (read more at https://goo.gl/bWboIh). Genus name also tends to be associated with the rebirth of vegetation like Adonis.

Hyacinthus(The Death of Hyancinthus by Jean Broc  1801) An ancient Greek legend describes the origin of the Hyacinth, a myth of homosexual relationships. Two of the gods, Apollo and Zephyr, adored a handsome young Greek called Hyakinthos. Apollo was teaching Hyakinthos the art of throwing a discus. Zephyr, who was the god of the west wind, was overwhelmed with jealousy and he blew the discus back. It struck Hyakinthos on the head and killed him. From his blood grew a flower, which the sun god Apollo named after him.

HyancinthusThe Death of Hyacinth by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1752)

HyacinthHyacinthus orientalis L. Collection des vélins du Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, vol. 9: t. 26 () [unsigned]









54 thoughts on “Hyacinthus orientalis (Common Hyacinth)

  1. Te han salido preciosas las flores María, la segunda de las imágenes me gusta especialmente. Gracias por compartirlas y por traernos aquí un poquito de mitología.
    yo suelo comprar sus bulbos en una macetita y es muy bonito verlos crecer, echar sus flores y gozar de su delicioso aroma.
    ¡Feliz semana!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely pictures Maria. I try to grow hyacinths here in Scotland. They usually survive a couple of seasons, but I think the slugs end up eating the bulbs. It is a shame as they are such lovely plants. If I was more organised I would dig them up after they have flowered and bring the bulbs indoors. We used to grow these as kids over a glass of water.


  3. It’s an interesting coincidence that May Sarton grew both daffodils and hyacinths at her properties in New Hampshire and Maine. She allowed them to naturalize, and had hillsides covered with them for a brief time each spring. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen white hyacinths. We have paperwhites in our stores in the winter, but those are narcissus.


    • Yes, I also noticed the purple ones were perhaps more common? I’m learning about all this now. Interestingly, the hyacinth I bought is now dying back, but I either have to keep the bulbs in place or look for a place to store them. I’m still reading about it.


  4. Hyacinths are some of my favorite flowers, even though their aroma can be overpowering at times. They come in a rainbow of colors, with the whites & purples shades best for forcing. I learned this from a Dutch bulb wholesaler when I used to make porcelain-hyacinth-forcing-vases for sale.


  5. Hyakinthos´violent death reminded me of Adonis´death….
    The way ancient greeks discussed homosexuality is quite “open minded”…
    I couldn´t avoid thinking of Ganymede, a young man who has been Zeus´lover. The Ruler of Gods took the form of an eagle to abducte him.
    Always beautiful photographs, dear Maria… A good choice here and well written post!…. thanks for sharing. Sending love & best wishes. 😀


    • Thank you! I not always get the plants that relate to Greek myths but when I do it’s fun. Yes, the Greeks were openly homosexual and the myths narrate this in an open, unbiased way. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the hyacinth! In early spring in Canada, their purple beauty and fragrance wakens us to the joy of the oncoming warmer seasons.
    I love the Greek mythology part of this post. TY, Maria!!! This is an awesome post.


  7. I love this Spring flowering bulb here in the UK.. and in the Autumn I bought 10 of these bulbs in various shades of colour.. I await with delight to see them appear in the large container I planted them in to appear once the weather gets warmer..
    And I love their fragrance.. and have in the past often planted some to flower indoors.. The room becomes a delight to the senses when in full flower..

    Loved all the information you provided Maria.. And I wish you a wonderful beginning to the start of 2017..
    Love and Hugs Sue xx


      • I know the sort you mean.. We did this when at school so as to see how the roots formed.. Wonderful and they grow just as well believe it or not, though I think once in flower they over shoot and keep growing taller and lanky and flop over.. Well that is how I remember it LOL.. ❤ Hugs


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