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17 Mar 2022

8 flora facts about dazzling Dahlias

The bright and colourful collection of Dahlias at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah has been bringing a sense of wonder and joy to plant lovers from around the world. The impressive display has an extensive range of colours, shapes, sizes and best of all - quirky names. 

Through selective breeding over many years, florists and horticulturists have been able to change the patterns and colours of the different flowers to create the incredible diversity we see today.

Unlike many other flowers, Dahlias are octoploids, which means that they have eight sets of chromosomes. For reference, humans only have two.

This means there are countless hybridisation opportunities and an amazing genetic diversity which allows us to create the desirable characteristics.

Below is a selection of our favourite flora facts about Dahlias.

blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlia Yellow

 

1. There are 42 species of Dahlia, but countless numbers of hybrids. New species continue to be described and discovered every year.
 

blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlia Winkie Welver

2. Dahlias are actually native to Mexico and are their national flower.

 
blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlia Tartan

3. The root tubers were grown as a food crop and eaten by the Aztecs.

 
blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlia Rhubarb

4. The Aztecs also used the plant to treat epilepsy and the long hollow stems for water pipes.

 
blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlia Nugget

5. Before insulin was discovered, diabetics used ‘Atlantic starch’ extracted from dahlia tubers.

 
blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlia Marwark

6. They are part of the Asteraceae plant family and are related to sunflowers and daisies.

 
blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlia Ken's Gala

7. Botanists originally thought it was a vegetable because of its edible tubers!

 
blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlia Fantasy

8. Dahlias were Queen Victoria and Marie Antionette’s favourite flower.


Dahlia peak season

The dahlia display at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah is located in the Formal Garden and will be in bloom until the end of March. 

The Garden is only 90 minutes from Sydney and is a fantastic road trip for the whole family. With so much to see and do in the Blue Mountains, you can easily plan a few days of Autumn exploring, including to the Garden.

blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, dahlias
Dahlias at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah. 
Images: Greg Bourke.

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