What is the first image that springs to mind when you hear the word corolla? If you happened to be in the carpark outside our local supermarket, you would probably be struck by the number of Toyota Corolla cars parked among a variety of other vehicles. It is a common enough vehicle in this country to make those words seemingly belong together: Toyota Corolla.

Toyota Corolla

I have always been curious about the etymology of words and am intrigued to find that corolla in Latin means ‘a little garland’ and is a diminutive of the Latin word corona meaning crown. Did Toyota have these meanings in mind when the name for this vehicle was chosen?

Garland, crown … both of these words are associated with circles and with flowers. I remember from my primary school lessons on the parts of the flower (a hibiscus flower was always the given example – perhaps they are easy to draw?) that the petals are collectively called the corolla. That set me thinking for the corolla is indeed the circle of petals around the reproductive centre of the flower for the purpose of aiding the pollination of the plant. Whatever their shape, the brightly coloured petals – even if they are not scented – attract those all-important insects to promote the reproductive process.

These pictures were all taken in the Ecca Pass.

Gazania krebsiana (Common gazania)

Strelitzia reginae (Crane flower)

Pelargonium zonale (Zonal pelargonium)

For the record, the word ‘corolla’ is recorded as having been used in the English language since the 17th century – that shows staying power!

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