They are of course of the Dianthus family along with their smaller cousin the pinks.
The flowers are produced singly or up to five together in a cyme they are 3-5 cms in diameter, and sweetly scented; the original flower colour is bright pinkish-purple. but cultivars of other colours, including, red, white, yellow and green, have been developed.
Some fragrance-less carnations cultivars are often used as boutonnieres for men.
Growing carnations: They require well-drained, neutral to slightly alkaline soil, and full sun. Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden planting. Colombia is the largest carnation producer in the world.
For the most part, carnations express love, fascination and distinction, although there are many variations of meaning, dependent on the colour.