Plant Lore-Jasmine

Branch of Flowering White Jasmine
JASMINE.—Perfumes and flowers play an important part in the poetry of India, and the Jasmine, which Hindu poets call the "Moonlight of the Grove," has furnished them with countless images. Thus, in Anvar-i-Suhaili (translated by E. B. Eastwick), we read of a damsel entering the king's chamber, whose face charms like a fresh Rosebud which the morning breeze has caused
to blow, and whose ringlets are compared to the twisting Hyacinth
buried in an envelope of the purest Musk :—

"With Hyacinth and Jasmine her perfumed hair was bound,
A posy of sweet Violets her clustering ringlets seemed;
Her eyes with love intoxicate, in witching sleep half drowned,
Her locks, to Indian Spikenard like, with love's enchantments beamed,"

De Tassy, the translator of the allegories of Aziz Eddin, points
out that the Arabian word yds-min is composed of the word yds,
despair, and min, an illusion. In the allegories we read: " Then
the Jasmine uttered this sentence with the expressive eloquence
of its mute language : "Despair is a mistake. My penetrating odour
excels the perfume of other flowers; therefore lovers select me as
a suitable offering to their mistresses; they extract from me the in-
visible treasures of divinity, and I can only rest when enclosed in
the folds and pleats which form in the body of a robe." An
allusion to the Jasmine is made in the following poetic description of a young girl drooping from a sudden illness :—" All of a sudden the blighting glance of unpropitious fortune having fallen on that Rose-cheeked Cypress, she laid her head on the pillow of sickness; and in the flower-garden of her beauty, in place of the DamaskRose, sprang up the branch of the Saffron. Her fresh Jasmine, from the violence of the burning illness, lost its moisture, and her Hyacinth, full of curls, lost all its endurance from the fever that consumed her.
The Indians cultivate specially for their perfume two species of Jasmine—viz., the Jasminum grandiflontm, or Tore, and the J. hirsutum, or Satnbac. The Moo-le-hua, a powerfulsmelling Jasmine, is used in China and other parts of the East as an adornment for the women's hair. It is believed that the jasmine was first introduced into Europe by some Spaniards, who rought it from the East Indies in 1560. Loudon relates that a variety of the Jasmine, with large double flowers and exquisite scent, was first procured in 1699 from Goa, by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and so jealous was he of being the sole possessor of this species, that he strictly forbade his gardener to part with a single cutting. However the gardener was in love, and so, on the birthday of his betrothed, he presented her with a nosegay, in the midst of which was a sprig of this rare Jasmine. Charmed with its fragrance, the girl planted the sprig in fresh mould, and under her lover's instructions was soon able to raise cuttings from the plant, and to sell them at a high price: by this means she soon saved enough money to enable her to wed the gardener, who had hitherto been too poor to alter his condition. In memory of this tender episode, the damsels of Tuscany still wear a wreath of Jasmine on their wedding days, and the event has given rise to a saying that a " girl worthy of wearing the Jasmine wreath is rich enough to
make her husband happy."
Yellow Jasmine is the flower of the Epiphany. To dream of this beautiful flower foretells good
luck; to lovers it is a sure sign they will be speedily married.
Plant lore, legends, and lyrics: Embracing the myths, traditions ...
By Richard Folkard


"The jasmine with which the queen of flowers,
To charm her god, adorns his bowers."
The elegance, the fragrance, the "bright profusion of scattered stars," all combine to render the Jasmine a much admired, much sought after flower. With the Orientals the pknt is highly esteemed, and largely employed in their most sacred rites and ceremonies. Indian poets style the jasmine "the moonlight of the grove," and from its lovely blossom and delicious perfume draw countless images. In some parts of India the supreme royalty, usually accorded to the rose, is reserved for the Michelia campaka, which takes the name of "king of flowers." One Indian poet compares the blossoms of this jasmine to the golden horses of Urvaci, the Indian Helios. Hindu women are devoted to the jasmine, and never tire of wreathing their hair with the large golden stars of the campaka, the blue species of which, according to Brahmin tradition, "blooms nowhere but in Paradise." Like the myrtle, the jasmine assumes a highly erotic signification. "My subtle odour," it breathes, "surpasses the perfume of other plants, therefore a lover offers me to his mistress." In Arabia the jasmine is a nuptial flower; hence the poet Moore's description of Arabian brides:
"As delicate and fair
As the white jasmine flowers they wear."
But, in accordance with the bridal character, the jasmine is a mournful flower. Like the basil, it "waves its fragrant blossoms over graves," and bears an essentially funeral significance. One exquisite species, nyctanthis tristis, blossoms only at night. Its Sanskrit names are atzdM, excessively pensive, and nilika, dark, gloomy. In Indian myth this "sad tree " plays the same role as the Daphne of Hellenic verse: A governor had a most lovely young daughter, of whom the sun became enamoured. But shortly afterwards he deserted her for another, and the unhappy maiden fell into such despair that she killed herself with her own hand. Above her there grew a tree, the flowers of which shrink in horror from the sun, and never open in the daytime. The blossom of this night jasmine resembles that of the orange, but the form and perfume are even more delicate, more alluring. The first, it is said, to introduce the jasmine into Europe were the Spaniards, who, about the year 1560, brought with them from the East Indies cuttings of the blush-blossomed species, since distinguished as the "Spanish jasmine." The delicate beauty and alluring scent at once recommended the plant as a valuable addition to the European flora, and it quickly passed into other countries. In Italy the jasmine is largely cultivated, and very specially beloved. A pretty love-legend accounts for the rapid popularity of the flower in Tuscany thus: About the year 1699 the Grand Duke of Tuscany obtained a large double-blossomed variety of the Goa jasione of unusual beauty and fragrance, and so jealous was he of being the sole possessor of this rare plant, that he strictly forbade his gardener to part with a single cutting. But the gardener was in love, and so could not resist the temptation to slip into the birthdayposie of his sweetheart one tiny perfumed spray of the forbidden flower. Charmed with its rare beauty and odour, the girl planted the spray in some fresh mould, and to her intense delight it sprouted and grew into a green and vigorous plant. Later, under her lover's direction, she raised and sold cuttings at a high price, and was thus enabled to wed the faithful gardener, who hitherto, from want of means, had been prevented from marrying her. In memory of this tender episode Tuscan girls wear a wreath of jasmine on their bridal day, and they
know a saying that "she who is worthy to wear the jasmine wreath is worth a fortune to her husband." In our own island, too, the jasmine retains its erotic character. Milton ranks it among the beauteous blossoms which decked the bower of Eve in Paradise:
"Iris all hues, roses and jessamine."
Churchill writes of the jasmine "which brides wear upon the breast," and at the present time this bloom of love, "sweet as the incense of the morn," still "clings to young brides," and is a marked feature in our wedding wreaths and bouquets. Unlike the myrtle, the jasmine, despite its fragile appearance, is comparatively a hardy plant, and even in cloud-girt Scotland is frequently to be seen in company with its beloved rose, gracing many a sheltered wall of house or of garden:
"The wild rose and the jessamine
Still hang upon the wall
How many cherished memories
Do they, sweet flowers, recall."
Lady Nairn.
Flower favourites: their legends, symbolism and significance
By Lizzie Deas


We who know the jasmine only as a greenhouse plant with a few white blossoms do not realize the possibilities of the species, for in tropical lands it becomes a tree-cloud of flowers, white and pink, and deliciously fragrant. And in spite of the abundance of flowers in the hot countries the people prize them as we do not always prize our sunsets and our northern lights. True, we are developing a better appreciation of the common and neglected beauties of the wood and wayside, but we make no such use of flowers, even in our social functions, as the Mexicans and Central Americans make of rose, flamboyant and jasmine. They are sold in the towns for little money, hence the people can afford them for decorations as we can afford the goldenrod and daisy, and they use them lavishly in their churches and homes on feast days.

Many flowers died of sorrow on crucifixion night, but the jasmine merely folded its leaves and endured its pain, and in the morning, when it reopened, it was no longer pink, as it had been before: it had turned pale, and was never to show color again. In the east it is highly esteemed, and the Indian women braid it into their hair when they receive it from their lovers, inasmuch as it promises long affection. It is worn in bridal-wreaths for that reason, though its oriental name of dark-and-thoughtful suggests no connubial delights, nor is its legend gladsome, for that represents the despair and suicide of a princess who discovers that the sun god has transferred his love from her to a rival. Prom her tomb sprang the night jasmine, known as the sad tree, whose flowers still shrink in reproach and horror from the sun, shedding their petals at the dawn. To the Arabs, again, it is a flower of love, imaging the charm of a sweetheart, though they call it the yas min, which means, despair is folly, and suggests an Omar Khayyam mood of heedlessness rather than the tenderness of love.
Myths and legends of flowers, trees, fruits, and plants in all ages and in ...
By Charles Montgomery Skinner

Dictionary of plant lore
By Donald Watts