Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, April 28, 2012

An Arum of Great Kallos, a.k.a. the Calla Lily


Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

"Kallos" is the Greek word for "beauty."  And the flower we know as the calla lily certainly is a beauty.  It is not, however, a member of the lily family.  It is actually an arum, native to South Africa, and is related to philodendron, spathiphyllum (also called peace lily plants, popular for florists), and caladium plants.  The calla lily gained its misnomer when it was cataloged incorrectly in the 1700's by Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus.  (Known as the "Father of Modern Taxonomy," Linnaeus laid the foundations for how we classify living organisms.  Since he classified over 7,300 species, I think one mistake is forgivable)   A German botanist, Karl Koch, corrected the error in the 1800's, but the name "calla lily" continues to be used this day. 

My friend Roben is marrying her beau Craig in a few weeks.  She is madly in love with Craig, then cats, then calla lillies.  (she likes alliteration, apparently)  Congrats to Roben and Craig; this blog's for you.  :)

Calla lilies today are one of the most popular flowers for weddings, because of their striking and unusual shape, and also because the hybridization of them has resulted today in some amazing colors (Picasso is my favorite).  Besides beauty and magnificence, they also represent purity, as the most well-known calla lilies were velvety, large and white.  Their trumpet shape was said to mimic the shape of a woman, and thanks to Sigmund Freud, the late 19th century mind also began associating the calla lily with sex, lust and ardor.  So much for the purity aspect.


Picasso Calla Lily


But calla lilies were most popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a funeral flower and a carved symbol on tombstones.   Because they bloomed in South Africa most heavily during their summer, which was the European and American winter, their new audiences in the 1800's saw them as an imported bringer of light to the darkest days of winter.  And, as with many symbols of the 19th century, calla lilies represented the Resurrection, or the light of Christ dispelling the darkness.  Their trumpet shape in the spiritual context represents the trumpets of angels heralding Jesus' victory over death.  Today, calla lilies can be grown in this hemisphere, and they bloom in my flower beds in July.

One of the interesting things about the calla lily is that the true flower is actually the spadix (the yellowish spike), which is located inside the white or colored spathe, which is just a modified leaf.  Calla lilies have remained a popular flower in America for more than 100 years, and they have inspired many artists, most notably Georgia O'Keefe.  Roben, I like calla lilies and cats and Craig....you have good taste.  Enjoy.

Centreville Cemetery, Stone Church, PA

West Laurel Hill Cemetery,. Bala Cynwyd, PA

Arlington Cemetery, Upper Darby, PA

Cherry Lane Methodist Cemetery, Stroudsburg, PA

Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Pen Argyl, PA

Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA

Tinicum UCC Cemetery, Tinicum, PA

Hilltown Baptist Cemetery, Hilltown, PA

Laurel Cemetery, White Haven, PA

Laurel Grove Cemetery, Port Jervis, NY

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Montgomery Baptist Cemetery, Montgomeryville, PA

New Britain Baptist Cemetery, New Britain, PA

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA

Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mount Peace Odd Fellows Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mount Peace Odd Fellows Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mount Peace Odd Fellows Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

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Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, PA

Richboro Union Cemetery, Richboro, PA

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St. Peter's Tohickon UCC Cemetery, Keelersville, PA

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St. John's Lutheran Cemetery, Honesdale, PA

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St. Michael's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Sellersville, PA

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St. Paul's Lutheran Blue Church Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

St. Paul's Lutheran Blue Church Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

St. Paul's Lutheran Blue Church Cemetery, Coopersburg, PA

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St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Hilltown, PA

St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Hilltown, PA

St. Thomas Aquinas Cemetery, Archbald, PA

Thompson Cemetery, Thompson, PA

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Trumbauersville UCC Cemetery, Trumbauersville, PA