The Dahlia Perennial

Dahlia is a class of bushy, tuberous, perennial plant native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. Hybrids are commonly grown as garden plants. The Aztecs cultivated the dahlia for food, decorative purposes, ceremonies and one variety was used for making small pipes.
The Dahlia has quite a history. In late 1789 seeds were sent from the botanical garden of Mexico City to Madrid were they flowered. Lord Bute secured a few seeds and sent them to England, where they flowered but were lost.
Approximately at the same time the dahlia was introduced to the Netherlands when a box of dahlia roots arrived from Mexico. Only one plant survived, producing spectacular red flowers.
Commercial plant breeders have been breeding dahlias to produce thousands of cultivars, chosen for their spectacular beauty with the brightly colored waxy flowers. Dahlia plants range in height from 12 inches to a staggering height of 6-8 ft. As stunning the height range, dahlia flowers can be as small 2 inches in diameter to 1 ft. in diameter. This variation is contributed to fact that dahlias are octoploids (having eight sets of homologous chromosomes, instead of the normal two).
In 1963 Dahlia was named the national flower of Mexico.


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