the flower of

the flower of —

the finest individuals out of a number of people or things.
Middle and early modern English did not recognize the modern distinction in spelling and sense between flower and flour , and the earliest instances of this expression relate to the sense that in modern English would be spelt flour , referring to the finest part of the wheat.
1991 Pat Robertson New World Order This vainglorious conqueror wasted the flower of French youth on his own personal dreams of empire.
See also: flower, of

the flower of something

(literary) the finest or best part of something: The people of the village will never forget the war and their young men, killed in the flower of youth.
See also: flower, of, something