Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I live near an extensive cherry orchard, and the trees are beginning to show gorgeous, fragrant blossoms. A blossom is a flower that grows on any plant, appearing prior to the seed or fruit. It comes from an Old English word that probably tracks back to the Latin flos and then transmuted into blos.

Blossom is strongly connected to the Old English word bloom, although bloom does not anticipate future seed or fruit as blossom does. It hovers more in the realm of culminating beauty.

There are a few words that contain hidden blossoms.

• anthesis: full bloom

• effloresce: to burst forth into flowers

• exanthema: an erupting rash, as if blossoming

• estivation: internal arrangement of a flower bud before bursting into blossom

• xeranthemum: a Mediterranean plant that translates as “dry blossom”

SIDEBAR: Growing cherry trees

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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