Dahlia belongs to the family of composite plants (Asteraceae). Most species of dahlia (Latin) or georgines, as dahlias are also called, are used primarily as ornamental plants.
Hardly any other flower delights with so many different colors, flower shapes and sizes as the dahlia. This plant initially appears tuberous and is sometimes woody at the base of the stem. The round inflorescence is basket-shaped and hangs from long, narrow flower stalks.
The dahlia’s height of growth ranges from 40 cm to 180 cm, depending on the variety. It forms root tubers, has dark green oval leaves, and its flowers can be up to 25 cm in diameter, depending on the cultivar. Due to the different cultivars, there is a wide variety of colors and flower shapes. Over the years, more than 35,000 different cultivated forms and varieties of the dahlia have emerged from the original 30 or so different colors.
The first drawings of the plant date back to 1552 and can be found in an Aztec herbal book. Thus, the dahlia is suitable not only for the plant pot or the home garden, but also for the salad. The tuber and petals are edible and also make a great decoration when preparing food. The taste of the tuber is reminiscent of kohlrabi or celery. The untreated flowers can be made into salad. Each variety tastes a little different, so it can also be made into a syrup that can be stored in the refrigerator for a long time. With only 180 to 200 kcal per 100 g, the tubers of the dahlia have few calories and are thus suitable for a low-calorie diet. Likewise, the tuber of the plant is very rich in fiber with a relatively low protein content.
The dahlia originates from the mountainous regions of Mexico as well as Central America and has only been found in the gardens of Europe for about 200 years. Although Alexander von Humboldt sent dahlia seeds from Mexico to the botanical garden in Berlin in 1804, the dahlia was brought to Europe as a food and medicinal plant by trade routes as early as 1789.
This plant is so popular mainly because of its decorative flowers, which usually appear from May and can be seen until late autumn. Dahlias love sunny, at most semi-shady places, where there is a well-drained, humus-rich, fertile soil. However, the subsoil should not be too firm, so that the roots can penetrate the soil well. The soil should always be moist, too much wetness dahlias, in turn, can not tolerate, because then the plants can quickly rot. How deep to plant them depends on the size of the tuber. As a rule, it is sufficient to plant them sparsely deep into the soil and then cover them with a few centimeters of soil.
Most varieties of dahlias bloom from late summer until well into the fall, until the first frost. From then on, the tubers must be removed from the bed – or you can protect the plants from the cold temperatures with pots.
Dahlias have long been known as a medicinal plant. Their flowers serve as a source of antioxidants and pigments, which is why it is considered to have significant properties for the eyes and skin. Dahlia is used for coughs, but also for diseases of the stomach or intestinal problems.
The hollow stems and the tuber store a lot of water and so already the Spaniards used the dahlias moreover as a source of drinking water.
Herbal studies also showed that dahlias have positive effects in the treatment of diabetes and consumed as a tea can significantly reduce blood sugar levels. Likewise, it reduces blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
As a food and herbal remedy to combat external skin, eye and ear infections, the tuber was consumed. In Spain and also in France, the dahlia was consumed for many years before it was replaced by the potato, among others, as a food.
The Aztecs already used dahlias as a stimulant and remedy. To this day, it is considered the national flower of Mexico.