For the United States Navy ship, see USS Dianthus (SP-639).
Dianthus caryophyllus flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Dianthus
Type species

Dianthus caryophyllus

Dianthus is a genus of about 300 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native mainly to Europe and Asia, with a few species extending south to north Africa, and one species (D. repens) in arctic North America. Common names include carnation (D. caryophyllus), pink (D. plumarius and related species) and sweet william (D. barbatus).


The species are mostly herbaceous perennials, a few are annual or biennial, and some are low subshrubs with woody basal stems. The leaves are opposite, simple, mostly linear and often strongly glaucous grey-green to blue-green. The flowers have five petals, typically with a frilled or pinked margin, and are (in almost all species) pale to dark pink. One species, D. knappii, has yellow flowers with a purple centre. Some species, particularly the perennial pinks, are noted for their strong spicy fragrance.



Hybrids include;


The name Dianthus is from the Greek words Διός Dios ("of Zeus") and ἀνθός anthos ("flower"), and was cited by the Greek botanist Theophrastus. The color pink may be named after the flower, coming from the frilled edge of the flowers: the verb "to pink" dates from the 14th century and means "to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern". As is also demonstrated by the name of "pinking shears", special scissors for cloth that create a zigzag or decorative edge that discourages fraying.


Dianthus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Cabbage Moth, Double-striped Pug, Large Yellow Underwing and The Lychnis. Also three species of Coleophora case-bearers feed exclusively on Dianthus; C. dianthi, C. dianthivora and C. musculella (which feeds exclusively on D. superbus).

Dianthus alpinus
Sweet William Dwarf, Dianthus barbatus
Dianthus superbus


Dianthus species have been extensively bred and hybridised to produce many thousands of cultivars for garden use and floristry, in all shades of white, pink, yellow and red, with a huge variety of flower shapes and markings. They are often divided into the following main groups:-[2][3]

Over 100 varieties have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[4]


In the language of flowers, pink Dianthus symbolize boldness.[5]

Dianthus gratianopolitanus – the Cheddar Pink – was chosen as the County flower of Somerset in 2002 following a poll by the wild flora conservation charity Plantlife.[6] "Dianthus Japonicus" is the official flower of Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Japan.

See also


  1. "Dianthus 'Devon Xera' FIRE STAR - Plant Finder".
  2. RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1-4053-3296-4.
  3. Leslie, A.C. (2012). The International Dianthus Register (1983) & Checklist: Twenty-ninth Supplement. Royal Horticultural Society.
  4. "RHS advice & tips on garden & indoor plants - Plant finder & selector / RHS Gardening".
  5. "Language of Flowers - Flower Meanings, Flower Sentiments". www.languageofflowers.com. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  6. Plantlife website County Flowers page'.'
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