Maltese flower, with its heart petals shaped like eight points on the Maltese cross, is a member of the pink family. While cousins campion, baby's breath and carnation spell romance for some, maltese flower grows readily on dumpsters all over Europe, and has never made an appearance on Sex and the City. And yet this red hot ragged robin is known everywhere by its common name Burning Love'.

According to folklore, the maltese flower was spread through Europe by knights of the first crusades. First introduced into the UK by seafaring merchants via the port of Bristol, where it has been adopted as their county flower. Its mark there can be dated as far back as 1634, to the oldest girls school in England. Pupils of the Red Maid's school used the permanent red stain of maltese cross to colour their bonnets. And as it happens, compounds called saponins in the plant's roots make a frothy washing solution. Butitis uncertain whether this soap serves as an adequate antidote for the mark of Burning Love'.

Words by Kate O'Brien - Editor of The Plant Magazine

Photos and ceramics by Holly Mitchell

Hero image - Linen Cross Over Apron in blood orange

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