The Dianthus carnation is a part of the family, Caryophyllaceae. There are around 300 species in the genus of this flowering plant. It is mainly found in Europe and Asia. There are a few species that extend south to north America. One species is found in arctic North America.
Common names for this flower include, carnation, pinks, gillyflower, gilly, clove pink, divine flower, jove's flower, sop's in wine and perhaps most well known, sweet williams. The name dianthus is from the Greek words, dios, meaning God, and the word anthos. meaning flower.
Most of these species are perennial herbs. A few of them are biennial or annual. Some of them are subshrubs with woody basal stems. A subshrub is simply a perennial plant that has woody stems except for the terminal part of the new growth which is cut back annually. The Dianthus carnation has leaves that are opposite, simple, mostly linear and sometimes, glacous grey-green to blue-green in color. The flowers have five petals that usually have frilled or pinked margins or edges. They are almost always pale pink to dark pink in color. This is true of almost all species of this plant. There is however, one species that has a yellow flower with a purple center.
Insect larvae from the Cabbage Moths, Large Yellow Underwings, Double-Striped Pugs and The Lychnis all use this plant as food. The Lychnis is a moth from the family Noctuidae. All three species of Coleophora case-bearers feed exclusivly on the Dianthus flowers. Coleophora is an extremely large member of moths from the family Coleophoridae . It contains around 1000 species. They exist on all of the continents.
While the name pink may come from the name of the flower, it is also possible it may be derived from the edging on the flowers. The word pink actually dates from the fourteenth century and means, to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern. Pinking shears make an edge similar to that of the Dianthus carnation.
In 2002, the Dianthus carnation was chosen as the County flower of Somerset. It was chosen in a poll by the wild flora conservation charity, Plantlife. Plantlife, is a wild flower conservation charity that was founded in 1989. By 2007 the charity had over 10,000 members and owned 23 nature reserves in the United Kingdom.
Carnations are very popular plants for bouquets. They are relatively inexpensive and are sold around the world.