Trading with Flowers
Trading with flower - for parfums, drugs, as a gift
In ancient times, flowers were prized less for their beauty than for their utility – as pigments, as the source of pleasing scents, as medicine.
The perfume industry arose in the Middle East. By the sixth century AD, it was so well established that the prophet Muhammad, exhorting male Muslims to bath weekly, added the codicil, “…and use perfume if it’s available.”
But no single flower’s history is more intertwined with our own that the poppy, the most famous of all medicinal plants, whose pods contain the analgesic, opium. Traces of poppy cultivation have been discovered in archeological finds from Neolithic settlements throughout northern Europe to Babylon and Egypt. Arab traders likely introduced the poppy to China and the West in the early middle ages, and today poppies are the second biggest flower crop (after sunflowers.)
Today flowers still have industrial uses, but they’re equally prized for their ability to beautify surroundings, commemorate important occasions, and express feelings that are too ethereal to put into mere words.