Give Now

Glorious Glads

The yellow and orange colors of the glads we have today came from the genetic legacy of a variety called Gladiolus primulinus.

Gladiolus primulinus from an image in the book “Everything for the garden: 1920,” published by Peter Henderson & Co., Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection. (U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library/flickr)

The name gladioli comes from the Latin word meaning sword because of the shape of the stiff sword-like leaves of the plant.

Historically, there are early mentions of the plant, also referred to as “cornflag,” being a weed in European cornfields. In England, a native species grew only in the New Forest and the Isle of Wight. Gladiolus was first mentioned in England in 1578 in the garden list of William Mount. In 1597, Gerard wrote about two European species that were used as a poultice to draw out splinters and thorns from flesh.

By the early 1600s, glads were being grown in gardens in England, and by the 1700s, glads were being imported to England and were quite common, with new species arriving frequently from South Africa. New varieties were also bred in both France and Germany in the 1800s.

In 1907, an American called Mr. Kundera developed the first glad with ruffled edges.

The variety Gladiolus primulinus from Victoria Falls, Mozambique is also called “Maid of the Mist.” Its hooded petals were thought to have evolved originally to protect the stamens and pistil from the spray from the falls. The yellow and orange colors of the glads we have today came from the genetic legacy of the “Maid of the Mist.”

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

View all posts by this author »

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Focus on Flowers:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Focus on Flowers

About The Host

Search Focus on Flowers

Focus on Flowers on Flickr