The Dahlia is the official flower of San Francisco but it is native to Mexico, Columbia and Central America.  Possessing a unique chromosome system with eight homologous sets instead of two, it has a great diversity with 36 different species and even more hybrids.  The range of colors is like the proverbial rainbow except for the blue colored Dahlia, which has never been seen or cultivated on earth.  Though Latin, the flower was named after a European botanist, Anders Dahl, who helped identify and classify the plant upon its arrival from the Americas.  Several European states imported, studied, and tried to classify the strange and beautiful flower making her a sophisticated world traveler.  In Oaxaca, they found more practical uses for the flower in medicine and food.  Today, they still use the Dahlia in the local cuisine.  The thick hollow stems have a sweet and starchy flavor and can produce the extract, Dacopa, used to flavor drinks with a roast-y, chocolate-y, coffee flavor.  Abundant, diverse and possessing a striking beauty, the Dahlia is a rock star of a flower.


This week San Francisco marks her 236th birthday.  Dating back to 1776, our fair metropolis came into being just a few days before the country as a whole.  It was Captain Juan Bautista De Anza who landed at the at the Presidio in early 1776 and the group that followed him arrived on June 27.  Two days later, on June 29, they had the first mass at the Mission Dolores site.  SF was not exactly ‘American’ upon her inception, but even as an illegal alien of a town, she was right there in the beginning, fighting to be a player on the main stage of the North American continent.   Over two hundred years later, I’d say she made it.

So, Happy Birthday to you, San Francisco!  I’m so happy to call you my home.  I hope we can accomplish as much in the next 236 years as we have in the last.  May you always embrace that free spirit of the explorer and that fierce commitment to diversity just like the remarkable Dahlia flower that represents you.  And, like the sweet Dahlia, may you never ever be blue.

Here’s to you!