THE TYPE OF THE CARNATION FLOWER DURING THE TIME OF COMMERCIALISATION

L. Hakansson
We know very little as to the dates and the method by which the carnation flower was first commercialised. From old literature we have found out that wealthy people and the monks kept carnations in special gardens and cold frames. The origin of Dianthus caryophyllusus has been described by many authors, and we know that carnations were growing along the Riviera Coast and in Greece in the past.

The present type of carnation, the American Perpetual Carnation, is the product of crossing the "Tree Carnation" with some Flemish types, by the famous French gardener, M. Dalmais from the Lyon area. The work was later carried on by his students, especially Alfons Alegatiere. Seed was sent to growers in the U.S.A., and Mr Chas Zeiler and others started to grow these seedlings, which are reputed to be the start or origin of the "American Perpetual Carnation". By developing a perpetual flowering carnation, they had more or less constant flower production. Earlier types made one big crop, then the plant very often died or nearly died. Carnation growers began establishing themselves around the big cities, near the consumers. Already in 1864, Zeiler, Gard and Dailledouze on Long Island had issued a catalogue listing 125 named carnation varieties. These were all seedlings imported from France.

In 1873, Mr Charles Starr published the book "American Carnation Culture", and in 1901 Mr Lamborn sent out the fourth edition of his book, also named "American Carnation Culture". 1903 followed a very impressive work by Mr Charles Willis Ward, "The American Carnation - how to grow it". These books are now treasures and confirm the knowledge and high standard of the carnation in the United States in the early days. There were 15.000 floral establishments and the covered area of glass amounted to 300 million square feet. In Chicago area alone there were 3 million carnation plants in the fields!

It is interesting to know that Linnaeus, the world famous botanist (1707–1778), who put plants into a system then existing, also founded the breeding of carnations. It was made possible by cross pollination.

I know little of the period up to about 1940. Breeding was done in a slower pace and propagation by cuttings had taken over. The "American Carnation Society" annual meetings give a lot of information and the connected exhibitions were the highlights. In the U.S.A., varieties like

Hakansson, L. (1992). THE TYPE OF THE CARNATION FLOWER DURING THE TIME OF COMMERCIALISATION. Acta Hortic. 307, 167-172
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1992.307.21
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1992.307.21

Acta Horticulturae