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Black flowers SUMMARY

Gavin Inglis gavini at festival.ed.ac.uk
Mon May 8 10:32:13 EST 1995

Huge thanks to everyone who replied to my question about black flowers last
week. I was only hoping for one or two pointers but instead was drowned in
over twenty detailed replies. I have tried to condense and summarise the email
replies I got into a page, which is included below. I'm very grateful for the 
response. This time I needed something sad but vaguely romantic; I also heard
about some creepy ones which will probably come in useful for future work.

In the end I opted for a black tulip, a freak from an unnamed variety which
was about as black as purple could be, imported from Holland. The green/black 
overlap was important to the scene. If I get a good look at any particular
variety I'll maybe put the name in with the next draft.

You seem to be a particularly friendly lot on this group. 

Thanks once more,


---------------------begin rather amateur summary------------------------

The true black pigment - melanin - is rarely found in nature, except e.g.
on bananas. Favabean does have an authentic black spot, but is not
otherwise like the flower I was looking for.

Very intensively pigmented violet and purple flowers can give the 
impression of black. This is the very idea behind 'black tulip' and 
'black rose'. Such intensely colored species may occur in any plant 
family. e.g. carnation and hollyhock, black bearded iris.

The most often mentioned flowers were black tulips...when the bulb is
young and the soil rich they can be very close to black. One such is
"Queen of the Night" or "midnight".

Pansies do exist which are very dark purple. "King of the Blacks" is one.

Carrot inflorescence (_Daucus carota_, Umbelliferae/Apiaceae). The central
flower in the umbels is (mostly - not always) a sterile, very anthocyanin-rich
one so it appears almost black. Very small, called "Moor flower" in Germany.

Bat flower (Tacca chantieri) looks a little like bats, seeds from
Thompson & Morgan. A creepy kind of flower.

Salvia discolor are nearly black, but the stems are more silver in
color than green.

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