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any species of the genus Zinnia of the family Asteraceae (asteraster
[Gr.,=star], common name for the Asteraceae (Compositae), the aster family, in North America, name for plants of the genus Aster, sometimes called wild asters, and for a related plant more correctly called China aster (Callistephus chinensis
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 family), native chiefly to Mexico, though some range as far north as Colorado and as far south as Guatemala. The common zinnia of gardens (Z. elegans), called also youth-and-old-age, is a rather coarse, easily cultivated annual, popular as a cut flower for its warm colors—ranging from white and yellow to red and purple—and for its bold, stiff aspect. There are various forms in cultivation, including dwarfed, curled, and double varieties. The zinnia is the state flower of Indiana. Zinnias are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.



a genus of annual or perennial herbs or subshrubs of the family Compositae. The leaves are opposite or entire. The inflorescences are generally large solitary heads; the receptacle is tunicate. The ray flowers are brightly colored, ranging from white, yellow, and orange to red and purple. The disk flowers range in color from yellow to brown-red.

There are 17 species, distributed at elevations to 2,550 m in southwestern North America and in Central America. One species occurs in South America. Several species of zinnia have long been raised as garden ornamentals. Especially popular is Z. elegans, which is native to Mexico and was imported to Europe in the 18th century. An herbaceous annual measuring 30–90 cm tall, Z. elegans has single or double flower heads and an erect branching stem. The species is divided, according to the type of inflorescence, into seven groups. Two of the groups—giant forms (or dahlia-flowered forms) and Liliputians—occur in the USSR. Giant zinnias reach 70 cm in height, and their inflorescences measure 10–14 cm across. Varieties include King Orange, Pink, and Scharlach. Liliputian zinnias are low-growing plants, with inflorescences measuring 3–6 cm across. Varieties include Red Cap and Tom Thumb.

Zinnias thrive in various soils; they are resistant to drought but not to frost. In the central part of the European USSR the seed is sown in protected ground in April or March; the seedlings are set out after the spring frosts. Flowering occurs eight to ten weeks after sowing. Zinnias are raised for cut flowers or as large flower groups on lawns, as plantings in flower beds, or as borders.


Kiselev, G. E. Tsvetovodstvo, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1964.


any annual or perennial plant of the genus Zinnia, of tropical and subtropical America, having solitary heads of brightly coloured flowers: family Asteraceae (composites)