Dahlias

Dahlia Geometry

Dahlias can look like pompoms, anemones, simpler flowers, or even orchids. Dahlias aren't just complex due to their many varieties and colors. As composite flowers, they are complex at the individual level--based on their geometry. Tiny funnel-shaped florets cluster together to make up the eye of the flower. Flat ray-like structures surround the eye. At the base of these, green leaves spiral around, holding the whole flower in place. Dahlias, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, and daisies all share this construction.

Lights out dahlia, taken by Sherry Smith, Portland, OR, 9/2016

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Dahlias are unique also in the way they grow, from tubers rather than bulbs. A tuber is a true root, with eyes (almost like a potato) at the stem end. It has fibers to gather water and nutrients.

I've included photos of dahlias from Swan Island Farm in Canby, OR, which holds a Dahlia Festival every September. It's amazing how the flowers represent almost every color from a crayon box. The dahlia above is called "Little Lamb," and does seem delicate and spindly like a young one making its way through a meadow.

Dahlia field, taken by Sherry Smith, Portland, OR, 9/2016

The field showcases the lovely colors of dahlia, and especially coral, which I believe is called Swan Sunset.