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The Clove Pink, or Carnation of our gardens, though found apparently wild on old castle walls in England, is a naturalised flower in this country. It is, botanically, the Dianthus Caryophyllus, being so named as anthos, the flower, dios, of Jupiter: whilst redolent of Caryophylli, Cloves.
The term Carnation has been assigned to the Pink, either because the blossom has the colour, carnis, of flesh: or, as more correctly spelt by our older writers, Coronation, from the flowers being employed in making chaplets, coronoe. Thus Spenser says:--
"Bring Coronations, and Sops in Wine, Worn of paramours."--Shepherd's Kalendar.
This second title, Sops in Wine, was given to the plant because the flowers were infused in wine for the sake of their spicy flavour; especially in that presented to brides after the marriage ceremony. Further, this Pink is the Clove Gilly (or July) flower, and gives its specific name to the natural order Caryophyllaceoe.
The word Pink is a corruption of the Greek Pentecost (fiftieth), which has now come to signify a festival of the Church. In former days the blossoms were commended as highly cordial: their odour is sweet and aromatic, so that an agreeable syrup may be made therefrom. The dried petals, if powdered, and kept in a stoppered bottle, are of service against heartburn and flatulence, being given in a dose of from twenty to sixty grains.
Gerard says, "A conserve made of the flowers with sugar is exceeding cordiall, and wonderfully above measure doth comfort the heart, being eaten now and then."
A water distilled from Pinks has been commended as excellent for curing epilepsy, and if a conserve be composed of them, this is the life and delight of the human race."
The flower was at one time called ocellus, from the eye-shaped markings of its corolla. It is nervine and antispasmodic. By a mistake Turner designated the Pink Incarnation.