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Plant of the month Dianthus caryophyllus.carnation or clove pink, is a species of Dianthus. It is probably native to the Mediterranean region but its exact range is unknown due to extensive cultivation for the last 2,000 years.

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 80 cm tall. The leaves are glaucous greyish green to blue-green, slender, up to 15 cm long. The flowers are produced singly or up to five together in a cyme; they are 3-5 cm diameter, and sweetly scented; the original natural flower colour is bright pinkish-purple, but cultivars of other colours, including red, white, yellow and green, have been developed.

Some fragrance-less carnation cultivars are often used as boutonnieres for men.

Colours

Carnations do not naturally produce the pigment delphinidin, thus a blue carnation cannot occur by natural selection or be created by traditional plant breeding. It shares this characteristic with other widely sold flowers like roses, lilies, tulips, chrysanthemums and gerberas. Around 1996 a company, Florigene, used genetic engineering to extract certain genes from petunia and snapdragon flowers to produce a blue-mauve carnation, which was commercialized as Moondust. In 1998 a violet carnation called Moonshadow was commercialized.[As of 2004 three additional blue-violet/purple varieties have been commercialized.

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