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You Won’t Believe These Flowers Are Actually Photos

They look like illustrations, but these gorgeous images are the work of photographer Richard Maxted for 'Anthology of Flowers.'

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Agapanthus-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


Harry Potter fans might recognize this plant. The Dursleys grow agapanthus (also known as Lily of the Nile) on 4 Privet Drive. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore compliments Vernon Dursley on how well the flowers are thriving. (These Harry Potter jokes will crack you up.)

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Amarylis-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


Greek mythology has a darkly romantic story about this flower. Desperate to win the love of a shepherd named Alteo, a maiden named Amaryllis decided to create a beautifully unique flower. Every night, she pierced her heart with a golden arrow outside his door, letting a flower grow where the blood fell. On the 30th day, Alteo opened the door to see the beautiful crimson flower, and he finally returned his admirer’s love.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Anenome-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


Like sunflowers, anemones face toward the light, which could explain why the flowers are associated with anticipation. They continue growing and twisting after being cut and put in a vase. Check out these other flowers that live long in a vase.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Aster-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


Aster flowers are a symbol of loss and longing. In “A Late Walk,” Robert Frost writes this melancholy verse about the plant:
I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Astrantia-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


Astrantias are a flower of many names. Known also as masterwort, some call the plant “Hattie’s pincushion” because of the tiny flowers that grow in the center, surrounded by larger petals.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Bird-of-Paradise-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing

Bird of paradise

Not only does the bird of paradise resemble a feathered creature with a beak, but real birds like to perch on the flower. When they fly to the next plant, they carry pollen on their feet, helping new flowers produce. Learn what your favorite flower says about you.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Borage-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


This plant’s furry stems and leaves are likely where it got its name—borra is Italian for a wad of waste wool or padding material. Borage flowers also stand out because of the small, black “antlers” growing in their center.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Bouvardia-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


This flower was named after King Louis XIII’s doctor, Charles Bouvard. The physician also happened to be the superintendent of botanical garden Jardin des Plantes in Paris and was a major proponent of using plants to heal.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Chocolate-Cosmos-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing

Chocolate cosmos

Not only does do chocolate cosmos’ red-brown color make them look worthy of Willy Wonka’s factory, but one sniff of the flower’s vanilla-like scent will also have you craving dessert. Don’t be fooled into taking a nibble, though—chocolate cosmos are not an edible flower.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Chrysanthanum-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


In Chinese art, chrysanthemums join plum tress, orchids, and bamboo as one of the “Four Gentlemen” The blooms represent optimistic persistence through adversity.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Clematis-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


Oscar Wilde uses the clematis to contrast the brief beauty of humans with nature’s enduring beauty in The Picture of Dorian Gray: “In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis, and year after year the green night of its leaves will hold its purple stars. But we never get back our youth.” (But have no fear: You can use makeup to look younger.)

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Cyclamen-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


Poet William Carlos Williams captures the beauty of this flower in “The Crimson Cylamen:”
the petals flare back
from the stooping craters
of those flowers
as from a wind rising

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Dahlia-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


There are at least 35 species of dahlias, and you can find them in just about every color except blue. In 1846, a Scottish horticultural society even offered a £2,000 reward to anyone who could produce the first blue dahlia. Add a bloom to a bouquet for a welcoming guest room.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Gentiana-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


You might want to reconsider the ever-popular rose bouquet. A 1906 ad in the Journal of Botany claimed gentian is “the only known flower in existence that exhilarates the heart and mind of the fairer sex.”

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Lavender-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing


It’s no wonder Telegraph dubbed lavender “the ultimate multi-purpose plant” in 2012. Health benefits of lavender include relieving pain, easing anxiety, improving sleep, aiding digestion, and more.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Chamomile-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing

Matriciana chamomilla

Chamomile flowers are beautiful, but they also happen to be a useful plant. Chamomile tea has a soothing effect to quell anxiety, which is why experts recommend sipping a mugful before bed. As a bonus, its body-calming effect can also help reduce bloating.

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you-wont-believe-these-flowers-are-actually-photos-Richard-maxtedRichard Maxted/Courtesy Quadrille Publishing

Find more flowers

To check out more gorgeous flower images like these and learn some fascinating facts about them, find a copy of Anthology of Flowers, with words by Jane Field-Lewis and photography by Richard Maxted.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.