Antirrhinum, commonly knows as Snapdragon or Dragon Flower, is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Plantaginaceae, native to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.
Snapdragons produce beautiful dragon-shaped, two-lipped flowers on tall spikes above the foliage. The flowers are often scented and under certain conditions release a subtle perfume. They are attractive to pollinators including bumblebees and hummingbirds. Snapdragons are popular garden plants as well as cut flowers.
Antirrhinum means literally “similar to a nose or snout”. The scientific name comes from the Greek words “anti”which means “like, “rhis” which means nose and “inus” meaning “of” or “pertaining to”, in reference to the flower shape.
The common name “Snapdragon” comes from its appearance, which resembles a dragon opening and closing its mouth. When the flower is gently squeezed, it looks like a dragon’s head!
Snapdragon represents grace, benevolence, strength and protection.
It can also symbolize indifference, deception and denial.
In the Middle Ages, women used to put these flowers on their hair to suggest that they are not interested in men.
Interesting facts about Antirrhinum:
How Are Snapdragons Pollinated?
Snapdragons are mainly pollinated by bumblebees, as they are large and strong enough to open the flower and reach the pollen. They must be of the right size and shape to trigger the flower to open.
When bumblebees are most active, Snapdragons release their scent to coincide with pollinators’ activity. Bumblebees crawl inside the lips so that the mouth of the flower closes over them. They will fly from flower to flower and pick up nectar and pollen to spread around to other flowers.
Uses and Benefits
Snapdragons have many qualities, beyond their beauty and symbolism that they represent. However, Antirrhinum majus is by far the most popular and useful species.
These plants have been used for their medicinal value. They are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and their ability to reduce stress levels and insomnia. They have also been used to treat haemorrhoids, wounds, tumours and ulcers.
Snapdragons are edible, but they are most commonly used for decorative purposes on cakes, desserts, salads and cocktails.
The oil obtained from the seeds is considered to be just as healthy as olive oil.
These plants have also been used to produce green dyes.
Snapdragons have a long history of cultivation as ornamental plants and as objects of curiosity to people in general. Modern breeding has made them even more attractive!
They have also been considered to possess magical powers and have been said to protect against spells and enchantments.
Antirrhinum majus is an important model for plant biology and development. It has been used as a model for biochemical and developmental genetics.
The flowers come in a range of colors including white, red, pink, orange, yellow, green and purple. Bicolor varieties are also available.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
Snapdragons can grow from 20 cm (8 inches) to 120 cm (4 ft) tall, depending on species.
This plant prefers rich, moist and well drained soil. The optimal soil pH is between 5.5 and 7.0.