Gladiolus- Botany

Essay by wfan99A+, May 2006

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Beginning in the 1800s, the Gladiolus became wildy popular. Gardeners in England used hybridizing techniques that gave rise to the 400 and more varieites today. The Gladiolus's ancestral home belongs to the Cape of Good Hope. Nicknamed the 'Sword Lily', it use to be represented by Roman gladiators. An ancient name for the gladiolus was "xiphium," from the Greek word xiphos, also meaning sword. African gladioli were imported in large amounts to Europe from South Africa during the mid to late 18th century. It was also used by the British as a poultice and to take out thorns and splinters. Ancient poeople used to use Gladiolus as a remedy for colic. The first time Gladiolus was collected was in 1894 by C.B. Fair. The first time it was described was by J.G. Becker in 1856. This potted flowering plant comes in many different types due to exportation from many different countries.

Although the Gladiolus is a beatiful plant, there are not many cultural uses for it. It can be used as a subject for specialist bulb growers as a container plant. Another use for it is as cut flowers. They can also serve as accents for perrenial lines and annual borders. In South Africa, Gladiolus has been known to treat ailments such as diarrhoea and even the common colds. It has been found as a component of an African herbal medicine horn named "lenaka." Also in Africa, many cultures use it as a source of food and as a treatment for constipation and dysentery. The bulbs of some Gladilous species have been found to be a source of starch in famine induced areas.

The Gladiolus can be grown in many different types of soils that are well drained. For optimum results one should use loam or sandy loam.