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Language of Flowers

FLOWERS

Through the ages, people have ascribed countless meanings to many thousands of plants. Old meanings are continuously modified or forgotten, even as new meanings evolve.

The whole flower language started in Constantinople in the 1600s, and was brought to England in 1716 by Lady Mary Wortley Montague who had spent time in Turkey with her husband. The interest then moved to France where the “Book Le Langage des Fleurs” was printed with over 800 floral signs. Many were toned down in the English translation at the time of Queen Victoria because they were quite risque!

Such symbolism has continued to evolve with changing customs and plant varieties. The list of plants and meanings below borrows from several sources and should not be considered official.

  • Acacia—Chaste Love
  • Acacia (pink)—Elegance
  • Acacia (rose)—Friendship, platonic love
  • Acacia (yellow)—secret love
  • Acanthus—Artifice, the fine arts
  • Aloe—Religious superstition
  • Allspice—Compassion
  • Almond (flowering)—Hope
  • Almond tree—Indescretion
  • Alyssum (sweet)—Worth beyond beauty
  • Amaranth—Immortality
  • Amaranth (globe)—Unfading love
  • Amaryllis—Pride, splendid beauty, timidity
  • Ambrosia—Love returned
  • Amethyst—Admiration
  • Anemone—Expectation, sickness
  • Anemone (garden)—Forsaken
  • Angelica—Inspiration
  • Apple—Temptation
  • Apple blossom—preference
  • Ash tree—Grandeur
  • Ash (mountain)—Prudence
  • Aspen tree—Lamentation
  • Aster—Variety
  • Auricula—Importune me not
  • Auricula (scarlet)—Avarice
  • Azalea—Temperance; love; romance
  • Baby’s breath posies—Gentleness, everylasting love
  • Bachelor’s buttons—Single blessedness
  • Balm—Sympathy
  • Balm of Gilead—Cure
  • Balsam—Ardent love
  • Balsam (red)—Impatient yet resolved to win your love
  • Balsam (yellow)—Impatience
  • Barberry—Sharpness
  • Basil (common)—Hatred
  • Basil (sweet)—Good wishes
  • Bay leaf—Consistency, I change but in death
  • Bay tree—Glory
  • Bay wreath—Reward of merit
  • Beech tree—Prosperity
  • Begonia—Dark thoughts
  • Bell flower—Gratitude
  • Belladonna—Silence
  • Bindweed (Great)—Insinuation
  • Bindweed (Small)—Humility
  • Birch Tree—Gracefulness, meekness
  • Bittersweet—Truth
  • Bluebell—Constancy
  • Borage—Bluntness
  • Box Tree—Stoicism
  • Bramble—Envy, lowliness, remorse
  • Broom—Humility, neatness
  • Buttercup—Childishness, ingratitude
  • Cabbage—Gain
  • Camellia—Steadfast love
  • Camellia Japonica—Unpretending excellence
  • Camellia Japonica (white)—Perfected loveliness
  • Camomile—Energy in adversity
  • Campanula—Gratitude
  • Canary grass—Perseverence
  • Candytuft—Indifference
  • Canterbury Bell—Acknowledgement
  • Caraway—Betrayal
  • Cardinal flower—Distinction
  • Carnation—Fascination, burning love, woman’s love
  • Carnation (red)—Alas, my poor heart
  • Carnation (striped)—Refusal
  • Carnation (yellow)—Distain
  • Cedar—Strength
  • Cedar leaf—I live for thee
  • Cedar of Lebanon—Incorruptible
  • Celadine—Joys to come
  • Cherry (white)—Deception
  • Cherry blossom—Spiritual beauty
  • Cherry tree—Education
  • Chervil (garden)—Sincerity
  • Chestnut tree (sweet)—Do me justice
  • Chickweed—Rendezvous
  • Chives—Usefulness
  • Chrysanthemum (red)—I love
  • Chrysanthemum (white)—Truth
  • Chrysanthemum (yellow)—Slighted love
  • Cinquefoil—Maternal affection
  • Clematis—Mental beauty
  • Clematis (evergreen)—Poverty
  • Clover (four-leaved)—Be mine
  • Clover (white)—Think of me
  • Cloves—Dignity
  • Cockscomb—Singularity
  • Coltsfoot—Justice shall be done to you
  • Columbine—Folly
  • Columbine (purple)—Resolution
  • Columbine (red)—Anxious; trembling
  • Convolvulus—Uncertainty; bonds
  • Convolvulus (Major)—Extinguished hopes
  • Convolvulus (Minor)—Night
  • Coriander—Concealed merit
  • Coreopsis—Always cheerful
  • Corn—Riches
  • Cornflower—Delicacy
  • Cowslip—Pensiveness, winning grace
  • Cowslip (American)—Divine beauty
  • Cranberry—Cure for headache
  • Crane’s Bill—envy
  • Cress—Power
  • Crocus (spring)—youthful gladness
  • Currant—They frown will kill me
  • Currants (branch of)—You please all
  • Cyclamen—Diffidence
  • Cypress—Death, despair, melancholy, mourning
  • Daffodil—Regard
  • Daffodil (yellow)—Chivalry
  • Dahlia—Good taste, instability
  • Daisy—Innocence
  • Daisy (Michaelmas)—Afterthought)
  • Daisy (Ox-eye)—A token
  • Daisy (Parti-Colored)—Beauty
  • Daisy (red)—unconscious
  • Daisy (white)—Innocence
  • Dandelion—Love’s oracle, rustic oracle
  • Dill—Good spirits
  • Dittany (white)—Passion
  • Dock—Patience
  • Dogsbane—Deceit
  • Dogwood—Durability
  • Eglantine—Poetry
  • Elder—Zealousness
  • Eupatorium—Delay
  • Everlasting pea—Appointed meeting
  • Fennel—Strength
  • Fern—Sincerity
  • Fern (flowering)—Reverie
  • Fig—Argument, longevity
  • Filbert—Reconciliation
  • Fir (Scotch)—Elevation
  • Flax—Fate, I feel your kindness
  • Fleur-de-Lis—Flame
  • Fleur-de-Luce—Fire
  • Flytrap—Deceit
  • Forget-Me-Not—True love; fond remembrance; forget-me-not
  • Foxglove—Insincerity; a wish
  • French honeysuckle—Rustic beauty
  • Fuchsia (scarlet)—Taste
  • Gardenia—A secret love
  • Gentian—You are unjust
  • Geranium—Expected meeting
  • Geranium (dark)—Melancholy
  • Geranium (ivy)—I engage you for the next dance
  • Geranium (lemon)—Unexpected meeting
  • Geranium (oak-leaved)—True friendship
  • Geranium (pencil-leaved)—Ingenuity
  • Geranium (rose-scented)—Preference
  • Geranium (scarlet)—comforting
  • Geranium (silver-leaved)—Recall
  • Geranium (wild)—Steadfast piety
  • Gillyflower—Lasting and/or unfading beauty; bonds of affection
  • Gladiola—Strong character
  • Gloxinia—A proud spirit
  • Golden rod—Precaution
  • Gooseberry—Anticipation
  • Gorse—Enduring affection
  • Gourd—Extent
  • Harebell—Grief
  • Hawthorne—Hope
  • Hazel—Reconciliation
  • Helenium—Tears
  • Heliotrope—Devotion; faithfulness
  • Hemlock—You will be my death
  • Hemp—Fate
  • Hibiscus—Delicate beauty
  • Holly—Am I forgotten?; foresight
  • Holly herb—Enchantment
  • Hollyhock—Ambition; fecundity
  • Hollyhock (white)—Female ambition
  • Honesty—Fascination; honesty
  • Honey flower—Sweet and secret love
  • Honeysuckle—Devoted affection
  • Honeysuckle (coral)—Color of my life and/or fate
  • Honeysuckle (french)—Rustic beauty
  • Honeysuckle (monthly)—I will not answer hastily
  • Honeysuckle (wild)—Inconstancy in love
  • Hop—Injustice
  • Hornbeam tree—Ornament
  • Hyacinth—Game, play
  • Hydrangea—Heartlessness; boastfulness
  • Hyssop—Cleanliness
  • Iceland Moss—Health
  • Ice Plant—Your looks will freeze me
  • Imperial (crown)—Majesty
  • Iris—Message for you; flame; my compliments
  • Iris (yellow)—Passion
  • Ivy—Fidelity; assiduous to please; marriage
  • Jacob’s ladder—Come down
  • Jasmine (cape)—I am too happy; transport of joy
  • Jasmine (Indian)—Attachment
  • Jasmine (Spanish)—Sensuality
  • Jasmine (white)—Amiability
  • Jasmine (yellow)—Grace; elegance
  • Jonquil—Desiring a return of affection
  • Judas tree—Unbelief
  • Laburnum—Pensive beauty; forsaken
  • Lady’s mantle—Fashion
  • Lady’s slipper—Capricious beauty; win me and wear me
  • Lantana—Rigor
  • Larkspur—Lightness; levity
  • Larkspur (pink)—Fickleness
  • Larkspur (purple)—Haughtiness
  • Laurel—Glory
  • Laurel (mountain)—Ambition
  • Laurestina—Distrust
  • Lavender (sea)—Dauntlessness
  • Lemon—Zest
  • Lemon blossom—Discretion, fidelity in love
  • Lichen—Dejection
  • Lilac (field)—Humility
  • Lilac (purple)—Love’s first emotion
  • Lilac (white)—Youthful innocence; modesty; purity
  • Lilac Polyanthus—Confidence
  • Lily (Arum)—Ardor
  • Lily (Imperial)—Majesty
  • Lily (white)—Sweetness; modesty; purity
  • Lily (yellow)—Falsehood; gaiety
  • Lily of the Valley—Return to happiness; Let’s forgive and be happy again
  • Lime—Conjugal love
  • Liquorice—I declare against you
  • Lobelia—Malevolence
  • Lotus flower—Estranged love
  • Love-in-a-mist—Perplexity
  • Love-Lies-Bleeding—Hopeless but not heartless
  • Lucerne—Life
  • Lupine—Voraciousness, imagination
  • Maidenhair—Discretion
  • Magnolia—Love of nature
  • Magnolia (laurel-leaved)—Dignity
  • Magnolia (swamp)—perseverance
  • Maple—Reserve
  • Marigold—Grief; despair; melancholy
  • Marigold (African)—Vulgar-minded
  • Marigold (French)—Jealousy
  • Marigold (prophetic)—Prediction
  • Marjoram—Blushing
  • Meadowsweet—Uselessness
  • Mercury—Goodness
  • Mignonette—You qualities surpass your charms
  • Mimosa—Sensitiveness
  • Mint—Virtue; wisdom
  • Mistletoe—I surmount difficulties
  • Mock Orange—Counterfeit
  • Morning Glory—Affection
  • Moss—Maternal love
  • Mossy saxifrage—Affection
  • Motherwort—Concealed love
  • Mugwort—Happiness
  • Mulberry (black)—I will not survive you
  • Mulberry (white)—Wisdom
  • Mushroom—Suspicion
  • Mustard Seed—Indifference
  • Myrrh—Gladness
  • Myrtle—Love
  • Narcissus—Egotism
  • Narcissus (poet’s)—self esteem
  • Nasturtium—Patriotism
  • Nettle (stinging)—Slander
  • Nightshade—Witchcraft
  • Nightshade (woody)—Truth
  • Nosegay—Gallantry
  • Nutmeg—Expected meeting
  • Oak Leaves—Bravery
  • Oak tree—Hospitality
  • Oak tree (white)—Independence
  • Oats—Music
  • Oleander—Beware
  • Olive Branch—Peace
  • Orange tree—Generosity
  • Orange blossoms—Your purity equals your loveliness
  • Orchid—A beauty
  • Orchid (butterfly)—gaiety
  • Ox eye—Patience
  • Palm—Victory
  • Pansy—Thinking good thoughts of you
  • Parsley—Festivity; feasting; useful knowledge
  • Parsley (fool’s)—Silliness
  • Passionflower—Belief; religious superstition; susceptibility
  • Pea (everlasting)—Lasting pleasure; an appointed meeting
  • Pea (sweet)—Lasting pleasure; departure
  • Peach—Your qualities, like your charms, are unequaled
  • Peach blossom—I am your captive
  • Pear blossom—I am your captive
  • Pear (prickly)—Satire
  • Pennyroyal—flee away
  • Peony—Bashfulness; shame
  • Peppermint—Warmth of feeling; cordiality
  • Periwinkle (blue)—Early friendship
  • Periwinkle (white)—Pleasant recollections
  • Persicaria—Restoration
  • Petunia—Don’t despair
  • Phlox—Unanimity
  • Pimpernel—Assignation; change
  • Pine—Pity
  • Pine (spruce)—Hope in adversity
  • Pineapple—Welcome
  • Pink —Boldness
  • Pink (Carnation)—Woman’s love
  • Pink (double red)—Pure and ardent love
  • Pink (Indian double)—Always lovely
  • Pink (Indian single)—Aversion
  • Pink (single red)- Pure love
  • Pink (variegated)—Refusal
  • Pink (white)—Talent
  • Plane tree—Genius
  • Plum tree—Keep your promises
  • Plum tree (wild)—Independence
  • Polyanthus—Pride of riches
  • Polyanthus (crimson)—The heart’s mystery
  • Pomegranate—Foolishness
  • Pomegranate flower—Mature elegance
  • Poplar (white)—time
  • Poppy—Evanescent pleasure
  • Poppy (red)—consolation
  • Poppy (scarlet)—Fantastic extravagance
  • Poppy (white)—Sleep
  • Primrose—Early youth
  • Primrose (evening)—Inconstancy
  • Primula—Diffidence
  • Quince—Temptation
  • Ranunculus—You are radiant with charms
  • Ranunculus (wild)—Ingratitude
  • Raspberry—Remorse
  • Reeds—Music
  • Rhododendron—Danger
  • Rhubarb—Advice
  • Robin (ragged)—Wit
  • Rocket—Rivalry
  • Rose—Love
  • Rose (Austrian)—Thou art all that is lovely
  • Rose (bridal)—Happy love
  • Rose (burgundy)—Unconscious beauty
  • Rose (cabbage)—Ambassador of love
  • Rose (campion)—Only deserve my love
  • Rose (Carolina)—Love is dangerous
  • Rose (china)—Beauty is always new
  • Rose (christmas)—Please relieve my anxiety
  • Rose (coral)—Admiration for your accomplishments and talents
  • Rose (daily)—I aspire to your smile
  • Rose (damask)—Brilliant complexion; freshness
  • Rose (deep red)—Bashful shame
  • Rose (dog)—Pleasure and pain
  • Rose (Guelder)—Age; winter
  • Rose (Lavender)—Pure love
  • Rose (May)—Precocity
  • Rose (Multiflora)—Grace
  • Rose (Mundi)—Variety
  • Rose (Musk)—Capricious beauty
  • Rose (Pink)—Friendship; graceful beauty
  • Rose (Pompom)—Prettiness
  • Rose (Provence)—My heart is in flames
  • Rose (Red)—Passion; beauty
  • Rose (Red-leaved)—Beauty and prosperity
  • Rose (Red and white together)—Unity
  • Rose (thornless)—Early attachment
  • Rose (Unique)—Call me not beautiful
  • Rose (White)—Purity; the giver is worthy of your love
  • Rose (Withered white)—Transient impressions
  • Rose (Yellow)—Jealousy; decrease in love
  • Rose (York)—War
  • Rosebub (Moss)—Confession of love
  • Rosebud (Red)—Pure and lovely; You are young and beautiful
  • Rosebud (White)—A heart ignorant of love; girlhood
  • Rosemary—Rememberance; Your presence revives me
  • Roses (Garland of)—Reward of virtue
  • Rue—Disdain
  • Sage—Domestic virtue
  • Sage (Garden)—Esteem
  • Saffron—Beware of excess; Do not abuse our relationship
  • Saffron (Meadow)—My best days are past
  • Salvia (Blue)—I think of you
  • Salvia (Red) Forever thine
  • Savory—Boldness
  • Scabious—Unfortunate love
  • Scabious (sweet)—Widowhood
  • Scilla (Blue)—Forgive and forget
  • Snapdragon—No; presumption
  • Snowdrop—Hope
  • Sorrel—Affection; parental affection
  • Sorrel (wood)—Joy; maternal tenderness
  • Southernwood—Bantering; jest
  • Spearmint—Warmth of sentiment
  • Speedwell—Female fidelity
  • Spiked Willow Herb—Pretension
  • Spiderwort—Esteem (without love)
  • Starwort (American)—Cheerfulness in old age
  • Stephanotis—You can boast too much
  • Stock—Lasting beauty
  • Stock (Ten-week)—Promptness
  • Stonecrop—Tranquility
  • Straw—Agreement
  • Straw (broken)—Rupture of a contract
  • Strawberry—Perfect elegance
  • Strawberry tree—Esteem (with love)
  • Sunflower (dwarf)—Adoration
  • Sunflower (Tall)—Haughtiness
  • Swallow-Wort—Cure for headache
  • Sweet Basil—Good wishes
  • Sweetbrier (American)—Simplicity
  • Sweetbrier (yellow)—Decrease of love
  • Sweet Flag—Fitness
  • Sweet William—Gallantry; a smile; finesse
  • Sycamore—Curiosity
  • Syringa—Memory
  • Syringa (Carolina)—Disappointment
  • Tamarisk—Crime
  • Taragon—Unselfishness
  • Tendrils of Climbing Plants—Ties
  • Thistle (Scotch)—Retaliation
  • Thorn Apple—Deceitful Charms
  • Thorns (branch of)—Severity
  • Thrift—Sympathy
  • Thyme—Activity; thriftiness
  • Toothwort—Secret love
  • Traveler’s Joy—Safety
  • Tree of Love—Old age
  • Trefoil (Birdsfoot)—Revenge
  • Trillium Pictum—Modest beauty
  • Truffle—Surprise
  • Trumpet flower—fame
  • Tuberose—Dangerous pleasures
  • Tulip—Fame
  • Tulip (Red)—Declaration of love
  • Tulip (Variegated)—Beautiful eyes
  • Tulip (Yellow)—Hopeless love
  • Turnip—Charity
  • Verbena (White)—Pure; guileless
  • Veronica—Fidelity
  • Vetch—Shyness
  • Violet (Blue)—Faithfulness; love
  • Violet (Dame)—Watchfulness
  • Violet (Purple)—You occupy my thoughts
  • Violet (White)—Innocence; modesty
  • Violet (Wild)—Live in idleness
  • Violet (Yellow)—Rural happiness
  • Virgin’s Bower—Filial love
  • Wallflower—Fidelity in adversity
  • Wheat—Prosperity
  • Willow (Creeping)—Forsaken love
  • Willow (Water)—Freedom
  • Willow (Weeping)—Mourning
  • Wisteria—Welcome; Youthful; Meeting you means so much to me
  • Woodbine—Fraternal love
  • Wormwood—Absence
  • Yew—Sadness
  • Zephyr Flower—Sickness
  • Zinnia—Thoughts of an absent friend