Daphne

/daf"nee/, n.
1. Class. Myth. a nymph who, when pursued by Apollo, was saved by being changed into a laurel tree.
2. (l.c.) Bot. any Eurasian shrub belonging to the genus Daphne, certain species of which, as D. mezereum, are cultivated for their fragrant flowers.
3. a female given name.
[ < L Daphne < Gk dáphne laurel]

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In Greek mythology, the personification of the laurel tree.

The beautiful daughter of a river god, Daphne lived a pastoral existence and rejected every lover. When Apollo pursued her, she prayed to Gaea or to her father to save her, whereupon she was transformed into a laurel. Apollo took its leaves to weave garlands that were thenceforth awarded to prize-winning poets. Daphne's other pursuer was Leucippus, who was killed because of Apollo's jealousy.

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      in Greek mythology, the personification of the laurel (Greek daphnē), a tree whose leaves, formed into garlands, were particularly associated with Apollo (q.v.). Traditionally, the special position of the laurel was connected with Apollo's love for Daphne, the beautiful daughter of a river god (probably Ladon) who lived a pastoral existence in either Thessaly, the Peloponnese, or Syria. She rejected every lover, including Apollo. When the god pursued her, Daphne prayed to the Earth or to her father to rescue her, whereupon she was transformed into a laurel. Apollo appropriated the laurel for poets and, in Rome, for triumphs. Daphne was also loved by Leucippus, who was killed because of Apollo's jealousy.

▪ plant genus
 genus of about 50 species of flowering shrubs of the mezereum family (Thymelaeaceae) native to Eurasia but widely cultivated for their form and flower clusters. The most popular species include low-growing evergreen types that are often grown in borders and rock gardens in mild climates. Among them is the spurge-laurel (D. laureola), with thick, glossy leaves and small greenish flowers near the ends of the branches. It produces poisonous black berries. The mezereon (D. mezereum) is a larger shrub, up to 1.5 m (5 feet), with deciduous leaves and spicy-fragrant pink flowers; the entire plant, including its bright-orange berries, is poisonous. The garland flower (D. cneorum) is a hardy evergreen trailing shrub, or ground cover, with pink, sweet-scented flowers. Popular greenhouse subjects include the several varieties of winter daphne (D. odora), which have very fragrant white to purplish flowers in crowded clusters. D. indica, with red blossoms, and D. japonica, with white or pinkish-purple flowers, are also grown as greenhouse evergreens.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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