Many people picture a desert when thinking of Iraq. However, parts of deserts can often support flowers, and some flowers are uniquely suited to desert survival. Because people have been living in Iraq since ancient times, many flowers have been cultivated and grown in home and public gardens. In fact, the national flower of Iraq is the rose.
The anastatica, often called the Rose of Jericho, is an unusual flower that is native to many places in the Middle East, including Iraq. The Rose of Jericho is also occasionally called the resurrection plant because its branches roll into a tight ball as they dry out during dry seasons or droughts. At times, the plant can break loose from its roots and blow across the desert like a tumbleweed. As rain falls, the plant's branches uncurl to release seeds protected at the center of the plant. These seeds germinate, allowing new anastiaticas to grow. The flowers of the anastiatica are white.
The puschkinia is a bulb-based flower that is commonly called the striped squill. These bulbs produce stalks with blue-white flowers in mid-spring, usually between March and April. The flowers appear for three to four weeks when the plants are 4 to 6 inches tall. Although native to Iraq, these bulbs will grow in the United States. Mulched, they can survive in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 3 and 4. Without mulch, they are generally cold-hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 7. Although tolerant of summer drought, they need frequent water during the spring growing and flowering season.
According to TheFlowerExpert.com, the rose is originally from Persia. Because modern-day Iraq was part of the Persian Empire, roses grow natively in Iraq. Roses can bloom in a wide range of colors, including red, purple, pink and white. Their flowers can range from the simple, single flowers of wild roses to the complex, ruffly blooms on hybridized roses. Roses can range from bushes to tree-like shrubs to climbing vines, depending on the variety.
One rose that grows in Iraq is the Damask rose, which originated in Syria and is named after Syria's capital, Damascus. The Damask rose was brought to Europe between 1254 and 1276. There are a number of varieties of Damask roses that are native to the Middle East, including Iraq. One is Ispahan, a pink rose named after the city Isfahan in Iran. Another is Kazanlik, a fragrant, pink flower with loose double blossoms. The Omar Khayyam rose is another strongly fragrant pink flower that dates from 1893. Although these types of rose are native to areas of the Persian Empire, Iraq is suitable for growing most varieties of roses.
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