Image of the Month: A Pop of Spring Color
To enjoy spring is to enjoy the colors spring paints nature. It is easy to admire the unique stunning blue of the grape hyacinth flower. Muscari armeniacum is a favorite of the springtime gardener. In addition to its vivid blue color and sweet fragrance, it is effortlessly grown. Cast as a spring flower, it’s foliage perseveres during the fall and throughout the winter, with blooms spreading robustly in spring. The hyacinth spike shows multiple, bell shaped flowers, resembling a cluster of grapes. Growing only 4-8 inches tall, the beauty of the grape hyacinth can be appreciated when grown in clusters. Whether planting in rock gardens, in the front of beds and borders, along walkways, or paths, the flower flourishes. They thrive in sun, shade and practically any soil, making them one of the most accommodating springtime bulbs.
The Muscari armeniacum species is abundant in the United States, and native to southeastern Europe, including Armenia. We scanned this particular stalk using the Bruker Skyscan 1173 Micro CT; to ensure the stalk would not dry out we placed it in a plastic vial of water. This quick scan took only 10 minutes.
Approximately 40 different species have been identified, varying in color, fragrance and invasiveness. The genus name Muscari originates from the Greek word for musk; accordingly, the grape hyacinth is nicknamed as “starch hyacinth,” due to the scent of wet starch. This aroma renders Muscari a perfect plant for bee pollinators. The grape hyacinth flower not only visually resembles grapes, it has also been known to smell and taste “grapey”.
However, any cooking and consumption of the bloom is not recommended. Bulbs of grape hyacinths are known to cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal irritation, particularly to pets and children. Although the flowers bloom in the spring, caution must be taken, as the bulbs are present throughout the year. Surprisingly in Greece and Italy, the bulbs are boiled, sautéed, and pickled for consumption. Another uncommon use for this multifaceted flower is as a laxative, stimulant and diuretic.
As versatile as this flower is, we cannot help but admire its aesthetic contribution to spring gardens. We hope you have enjoyed learning about this springtime favorite. If you have an interesting item that you would like showcased as the next image of the month or if you would like to try our 3D printer, feel free to email: Brandon@microphotonics.com. We would love to include your work!
May 2015 – A Pop of Spring Color written by:
Kaamna C. Mirchandani, MS
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