dahlia (dälˈyə, dălˈ–) [key] [for Anders Dahl, 1751–89, Swedish botanist and pupil of Linnaeus], any plant of the genus Dahlia of the family Asteraceae (aster family), tuberous-rooted perennials native to Mexico and Guatemala and widely cultivated in gardens. Most of the several thousand horticultural varieties have been developed from the single species ( D. pinnata ) of garden dahlia introduced into cultivation in England c.1800, but other species and hybrids, e.g., the cactus dahlia ( D. juarezii ) are also grown. Dahlias are stout and rather woody plants, some species reaching the stature of small trees, with late-blooming flowers in a wide range of colors and sizes. The tubers of the garden dahlia were one source of fructose, used by diabetics. Dahlias are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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