The Dahlia is native mainly in Mexico, but also Central America, and Colombia. It is a member of the Asteraceae plants, with related species including the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum. The shape of the flower is varies greatly, with one head per stem; these can be as small as 5 cm diameter or up to 30 cm or the size of a dinner plate.
Like most plants that do not attract pollinating insects through scent they are brightly colored within the whole colour spectrum, with the exception of blue. The leaves do have a gorgeous fresh herby scent.
The tubers were grown as a food crop by the Aztecs, but this use largely died out after the Spanish Conquest. Attempts to introduce the tubers as a food crop in Europe were unsuccessful, as the flower proved much more popular than the tubers. Recently however, some growers are now reintroducing varieties grown for their edible tubers so you might find them in the green grocer, next to the parsnips!
Anyway, the official flower of the month is the Chrysanthemum but I’m really not a big fan.
I love the dahlia with its aromatic foliage and amazingly bright colours. It’s the last ray of sunshine before the winter starts…..