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Zinnia blooms are easy on the eyes

When Spanish colonists first encountered zinnias in Mexico, they nicknamed them mal de ojos, or evil eyes. The wildflowers were considered a weed, with dull-purplish red flowers.

The zinnia has come a long way since then, but the allusion to eyes doesn't end there. Zinnias were officially named after Dr. Johann Gottfried Zinn, a German botanist, who was the first to detail the anatomy of the human eye.

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Zinn collected seeds of Zinnia elegans while in Mexico in the 1700s. He was accosted by bandits who, after searching his bag, found the seeds and decided to leave him alone, believing him crazy and therefore unlucky.

Today there are many different types of zinnias, and the one that is most popular to grow in gardens is Zinnia elegans, the tall, bright-colored annual grown during summer. Two other popular zinnia families include Zinnia grandiflora (which is low growing) and Zinnia marylandica (which is ideal for extreme heat, hum…

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