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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Remembrance Poppies

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, November 5, 2014/Categories: art and design, plants

Anyone who has turned on the BBC World Service recently would have seen the presenters wearing a strange lapel pin. These are  remembrance poppies  that came to symbolize fallen soldiers in WWI. 

The use of the red poppy was immortalized by the 1915 war poem,  In Flanders Field , and small artificial poppies are now worn on clothing for a few weeks prior to Remembrance Day- Armistice Day, November 11th. Poppy wreaths are placed on war memorials as well. The poppy pin has been adopted for this same intention by nations within the British Commonwealth, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere when fallen soldiers are being remembered.

Remember Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), and Lapel Pin (credit: Wiki-commons and file graphic)

It is fascinating that plants and flowers have always been used to represent purity, something good, and symbolic. Evidence has been discovered from 35,000-60,000 year old burial caves in the Middle East, showing that our early forebarer cousins the  Nethanderthals  may have buried their dead with flowers. Pollen samples analyzed from recovered skeletons show specific medicinal plant species may have been deliberately placed with the deceased person.

It's nice to imagine that we inherited our cultural use of flowers to honor the dead from such an ancient past. So next time you observe a poppy in bloom or on a label pin, remember not only the fallen hero but an ancient botanical tradition as well.


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