Common Name: Dianthus, Sweet William, Carnations
Dianthus are one of the oldest cultivated flowers, treasured for centuries for their scent and their ease of cultivation, as they will thrive almost anywhere. Wild dianthus are plants of mountainside, grasslands, mountain slopes and forest margins. They grow well in cool zones as well as warm areas providing a well-drained soil. The harder they are grown and the less they are fed, the better they will flower. Furthermore, these flowers can all be propagated easily from cuttings, taken at any time of the year. They are usually harvested in summer and autumn during flowering and fruiting time.
Dianthus flowers are edible and often used in cooking. Their fresh petals can be used to liven up salads, sandwiches and pies (petals should be removed from the calyx and their bitter white base should be removed). An essential oil is obtained from the flowers that is largely used in perfumery and is credited with providing many therapeutic benefits to the individual. Flower heads are dried to make scented sachets, macerated oil and other cosmetic application.
Dianthus is a key herb used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat urinary difficulties. In Western herbal Medicine, the entire plant is used as a bitter tonic herb that stimulates the urinary system and digestive system. Dianthus chinensis is classified as antibacterial, diuretic, emmenagogue and febrifuge. Externally, a decoction of either petals or roots is used to treat skin inflammations, infections and swellings.