We do it all the time. We surprise someone with a bunch of bright yellow flowers to cheer them up.
We declare our fervent passion with two-dozen velvety roses. We sense the personalities of different flowers and intuitively choose one
over another to fit our mood or the occasion.
But did you know that associating certain flowers with different meanings is an age-old art form?
The Japanese call it Hanakotoba, and King Charles II brought it to Sweden from Persia in the 17th century.two-dozen velvety roses. We
sense the personalities of different flowers and intuitively choose one over another to fit our mood or the occasion.
Floriography – a fancy name for the language of flowers – was coined in the Victorian era, and while its original translations may have
shifted over time, the notion that through flower symbolism we can express what we want to say (and may not be able to speak out loud)
still holds true.
From the origin of a flower’s name to its distinctive characteristics and rich mythology, flowers are infused with symbolism and meaning.
Our Flower Meaning Guide is designed to unravel these hidden mysteries, uncover these floral gems and open you up to a whole new
language – the language of flowers.
Heather’s scientific name, “Calluna vulgaris,” comes from
Latin “vulgaris,” meaning “common,” as heather twigs were
once used for making brooms. Native to Ireland, Scotland,
bedding, as thatch for roofs and even to flavor beer or tea.
Today, it’s the beautiful heather flowers—in colors ranging
from white to pink, purple and red – that draw our
attention. Symbolizing admiration and good luck, heather
is also believed have protective powers.
Baron Claus von Alstromer, a Swedish baron who collected the seeds on a trip to Spain in 1753.
Today, this popular flower can be found in a range of colors – from white to golden yellow, orange to apricot, pink to red,
lavender and purple. Symbolizing friendship and devotion, the alstroemeria’s leaves grow upside down, with the leaf twisting
as it grows out from the stem, so that the bottom is facing upwards – much like the twists, turns and growth of our friendships.
Legend has it that the amaryllis - the stunning red flower we've come to associate with the holidays - began as a shy, so
unique it had never existed in the world before - Amaryllis sought advice from the oracle of Delphi.
Following his instructions, Amaryllis dressed in maiden's white and appeared at Alteo's door for 30 nights, each time
piercing her heart with a golden arrow. When at last Alteo opened his door, there before him was a striking crimson
flower, sprung from the blood of Amaryllis's heart. With this romantic - albeit tragic - tale as its beginning, it's not
surprising that today the amaryllis has come to symbolize pride, determination and radiant beauty.
According to Greek mythology, the anemone sprang from Aphrodite’s
tears as she mourned the death of Adonis. Thought to bring luck and
protect against evil, legend has it that when the anemone closes its
petals, it’s a signal that rain is approaching.
Still other mythology connects the anemone to magical fairies, who were
believed to sleep under the petals after they closed at sunset.
Perhaps it’s because of this magical and prophetic tales that today in the
language of flowers, anemones represent anticipation.
With their open, heart-shaped flowers and tropical disposition, it’s no
wonder that anthurium have come to symbolize hospitality.
Also known as the Flamingo Flower, Boy Flower, Painted Tongue and
Painter’s Palette – because of their distinctive shape and color – the
name anthurium comes from Greek, meaning “tail flower.”
Exotic and compelling, with bold, typically red flowers and shiny, dark
green foliage, anthurium, like the hospitality they represent, are long-
lasting and irresistibly beautiful.
been considered an enchanted flower.
In ancient times, it was thought that the perfume from their
burning leaves could drive away evil serpents.
Today, they’re known as a talisman of love and a symbol of
Today, they’re known as a talisman of love and a symbol of for
“star,” and its star-like flowers can be found in a rainbow of
patience. Also known as starworts, Michaelmas daisies or
colors – white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue, with mostly
yellow centers. The September birth flower, asters also hold
the honor of being the 20th wedding anniversary flower.
Bearing an unmistakable resemblance to a brightly
colored bird in flight, bird of paradise are native to
surprisingly) paradise itself. Also known as Crane
flowers, they are distinctive and striking, spectacularly
shaped like a bird’s beak and plumage. Bird of
Paradise are the 9th wedding anniversary flower.
Blue flowers hold a special significance in the language of flowers and apparently – given their long-standing popularity – a special place in our
commelina or the dramatic arch of blue delphinium, blue flowers offer a cooling antidote to our over-stimulated lives and anxious days.
A color that is known to hold universal appeal, blue plays a significant role in many cultures’ religious rituals and ceremonies. It’s said that the
Western tradition of a bride wearing something blue is tied to the color’s symbolism of faithfulness and loyalty. In its dark, regal tones, blue can
express trustworthiness, confidence, intelligence and unity, which explains why it’s frequently the color of police uniforms, why the blue “power suit”
is an icon of the business world and why winners of competitions receive blue ribbons. And yet, in its softer hues, blue can embody the uplifting
spirit of a sunny sky or soothing ocean – perhaps explaining why so many of us choose blue flowers when we want to send a message of calming
beauty, tranquility and peace.
Their star-like flowers grow in clusters on thin, branching
stems, like small flower bouquets in soft shades of pink,
white, yellow, salmon and red.
With a delicate scent and feminine appearance, in the
language of flowers, bouvardia represent enthusiasm.
crowns, others propose that it’s derived from from the Latin “carnis” (flesh) referring to the flower’s original pinkish-hued color or “incarnacyon”
(incarnation), referring to the incarnation of God-made flesh.
Today, carnations can be found in a wide range of colors, and while in general they express love, fascination and distinction, virtually every color
carries a unique and rich association. White carnations suggest pure love and good luck, light red symbolizes admiration, while dark red represents
deep love and affection. Purple carnations imply capriciousness, and pink carnations carry the greatest significance, beginning with the belief that
they first appeared on earth from the Virgin Mary’s tears – making them the symbol of a mother’s undying love.
Worn on Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day (in green, of course) and at weddings, this hardy, sweetly fragrant flower is also the state
flower of Ohio, the January birth flower and the 1st wedding anniversary flower.
Bird of Paradise
With a history that dates back to 15th century B.C., chrysanthemum mythology is filled with a multitude of stories and symbolism. Named from
the Greek prefix “chrys-“ meaning golden (its original color) and “-anthemion,” meaning flower, years of artful cultivation have produced a full
range of colors, from white to purple to red. Daisy-like with a typically yellow center and a decorative pompon, chrysanthemums symbolize
Japan, there’s even a “Festival of Happiness” to celebrate this flower each year.
A symbol of the sun, the Japanese consider the orderly unfolding of the chrysanthemum’s petals to represent perfection, and Confucius once
suggested they be used as an object of meditation. It’s said that a single petal of this celebrated flower placed at the bottom of a wine glass will
encourage a long and healthy life.
Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil is virtually synonymous with spring. Though their botanic name is narcissus, daffodils are
sometimes called jonquils, and in England, because of their long association with Lent, they’re known as the “Lent Lily.” Lore connecting the
first daffodil of the season, your next 12 months will be filled with wealth, and Chinese legend has it that if a daffodil bulb is forced to bloom
during the New Year, it will bring good luck to your home.
The March birth flower and the 10th wedding anniversary flower, a gift of daffodils is said to ensure happiness. But always remember to
present daffodils in a bunch – the same legends that associate this cheerful flower with good fortune warn us that when given as a single
bloom, a daffodil can foretell misfortune.
Derived from the Greek word
delphinium are also commonly known
Spur. Used by Native Americans and
s believed that the most ancient use s
believed that the most ancient use of
delphinium flowers was for driving of
delphinium flowers was for driving
The July birth flower, these lush,
dolphin-shaped flowers symbolize an
open heart and ardent attachment
and convey a feeling of lightness and
Named after the German physician
Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese,
freesia – with their bell-shaped blooms
while in most cases the white variation
one of the most popular freesia
varieties is named Ballerina.
The 7th wedding anniversary flower, in
the language of flowers, freesia are
said to symbolize innocence and
LARKSPUR / DELPHINIUM
sword – have a history than spans from
Africa to the Mediterranean.
Symbolizing strength and moral integrity,
gladioli also represent infatuation, with a
bouquet conveying to a recipient that they
pierce the giver’s heart with passion.
Striking and colorful with towering stems, this
August birth flower and 40th wedding
anniversary flower evoke the drama of
goddess Iris, who personified the rainbow
(the Greek word for iris), acted as the link
purple irises were planted over the graves of
women to summon the goddess Iris to guide
them in their journey to heaven. Irises
recognized as their national symbol, the fleur-
de-lis. during the Middle Ages, eventually
The February birth flower, the 25th wedding
anniversary flower and the state flower of
Tennessee, the iris’s three upright petals are
said to symbolize faith, valor and wisdom.
mythology, begins with a beautiful nymph
named Syringa (lilac’s botanical name).
Captivated by her beauty, Pan, the god of
the forests and fields, chased Syringa we
now refer to as lilac.
the forests and fields, chased Syringa
state flower of New Hampshire (symbolizing
the hardy character of the Granite State’s
citizens), lilacs are frequently considered a
harbinger of spring, with the time of their
bloom signaling whether spring will be early
or late. In the language of flowers, purple
lilacs symbolize the first emotions of love,
while white lilacs represent youthful
Dating as far back as 1580 B.C., when images of lilies were discovered in a villa in Crete, these majestic flowers have long held a role in
ancient mythology. Derived from the Greek word “leiron,” (generally assumed to refer to the white Madonna lily), the lily was so revered by
the Greeks that they believed it sprouted from the milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. Lilies are known to be the May birth flower, and the
30th wedding anniversary flower.
While white lilies symbolize chastity and virtue – and were the symbol of the Virgin Mary’s purity and her role of Queen of the Angels – as
other varieties became popular, they brought with them additional meanings and symbolism as well. Peruvian lilies, or alstroemeria,
represent friendship and devotion, white stargazer lilies express sympathy and pink stargazer lilies represent wealth and prosperity.
Symbolizing humility and devotion, lilies of the valley are the 2nd wedding anniversary flower.
As the flowers most often associated with funerals, lilies symbolize that the soul of the departed has received restored innocence after death.
the Greek “hydor,” meaning water, and “angos,” meaning jar
or vessel. This roughly translates to “water barrel,” referring to
flower. With its wooden stems and lacy, star-shaped flowers
packed closely together in a pompom, the hydrangea’s color
ranges from white to blue to pink and purple, determined by
the acidity level of the soil.
There remains some debate over the hydrangea’s symbolism
– with some connecting it to vanity and boastfulness (perhaps
reflecting its abundance of petals and lavish, rounded shape)
expresses the giver’s gratefulness for the recipient’s
understanding. Still others suggest it represents anything that’
there appears to be an overwhelming consensus that this 4th
wedding anniversary flower possesses enduring grace and
back 300 million years, Greek legend tells us that protea
were named after Proteus, the son of Poseidon. A sea
god who had the power to know all things past, present
the island of Pharos rather than prophesize. To deter
those seeking his insights, he would change his shape
at will, and it’s said that the protea flower was named
after him because it, too, presents itself in an astounding
variety of shapes, sizes, hues and textures to make up
more than 1,400 varieties.
With its mythological associations to change and
transformation, it’s not surprising that in the language of
flowers, protea symbolizes diversity and courage.
With a host of names – from Texas San Pedro –
lisianthus symbolize an outgoing nature. Native to
Texas and Mexico, and descended from a North
American wildflower, in their single-form variety,
lisianthus may resemble tulips or poppies. In their
double form, they can take on the appearance of
roses or peonies.
With wide ruffled, delicate petals and oval leaves,
in colors ranging from white to pink, lavender to
that lisianthus also symbolize appreciation.
The most highly coveted of ornamental orchid
represents love, luxury, beauty and strength. In ancient
Greece, orchids were associated with virility.
In fact, Greek women believed that if the father of their
unborn child ate large, new orchid tubers, the baby
would be a boy. If the mother ate small orchid tubers,
she would give birth to a girl.
During the Victorian era, orchid symbolism shifted to
luxury, and today this sense of magnificence and artful
The 14th wedding anniversary flower, pink orchids
convey pure affection, and the popular cattelya orchid
represents mature charm.
With a recorded history that dates back thousands of years, it’s
legend has it that the peony is named after Paeon, a physician
to the gods, who received the flower on Mount Olympus from
the mother of Apollo. And another tells the story of that same
physician who was “saved” from the fate of dying as other
mortals by being turned into the flower we know today as the
The traditional floral symbol of China, the state flower of
Indiana, and the 12th wedding anniversary flower, peonies are
known as the flower of riches and honor. With their lush, full,
rounded bloom, peonies embody romance and prosperity and
are regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy
said that this winter flower’s association with Christmas with
no means for a grander gift, gathered humble weeds
Christmas Eve. As the congregation witnessed a Christmas
miracle, the weeds turned into brilliant red and green flowers.
miracle, the weeds turned into brilliant red and green flowers.
Named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, first United States
ambassador to Mexico and the amateur botanist who
introduced the plant to the U.S. in 1825, the poinsettia is also
known as Mexican Flame Leaf, Winter Rose, Noche Buena
and, in Turkey, Atakurk’s Flower, because it was the favorite
flower of Atakurk, the founder of modern Turkey.
While considered by the ancient Aztecs to be symbols of
purity, in today's language of flowers, red, white or pink
poinsettias, the December birth flower, symbolize good
cheer and success and are said to bring wishes of mirth and
James I, was challenged by her friends to create
lace as beautiful as a flower.
While making the lace, she pricked her finger, and it’
Queen Anne’s Lace represents a droplet of her
Also called Wild Carrot (since Queen Anne’s Lace is
the wild progenitor of today’s carrot), Bishop’s Lace
or Bird’s Nest (for the nest-like appearance of the
bright white and rounded flower in full bloom), in the
language of flowers, Queen Anne’s Lace represents
Native to Asia and celebrated for its medicinal
properties as well as its bright beauty, the
small camellia-like ranunculus ranges from
white to pink, red to yellow to orange. Also
was tossing his eyes up in the air and
catching them when Eagle snatched them.
Unable to see, Coyote created eyes from the
In the language of flowers, a bouquet of
ranunculus says, “I am dazzled by your
Long a symbol of love and passion, the ancient Greeks and Romans associated roses with Aphrodite and Venus, goddesses of love. Used for
hundreds of years to convey messages without words, they also represent confidentiality. In fact, the Latin expression “sub rosa” (literally,
“under the rose”) means something told in secret, and in ancient Rome, a wild rose was placed on the door to a room where confidential matters
were being discussed.
Each color offers a distinct meaning: red, the lover’s rose, signifies enduring passion; white, humility and innocence; yellow, expressing
friendship and joy; pink, gratitude, appreciation and admiration; orange, enthusiasm and desire; white lilac and purple roses represent
enchantment and love at first sight. The number of stems in a rose bouquet can also express specific sentiments.
The June birth flower and the 15th wedding anniversary flower, roses are also the national flower of the United States and the state flower of
Georgia, Iowa, New York, North Dakota and the District of Columbia. And, not surprisingly, June – the month so often associated with weddings –
is National Rose Month.
Statice is commonly used in dried flower
arrangements as well as fresh bouquets.
Its botanical name is derived from the Greek
word “limonium,” meaning meadow, referring to
the plants original habitat and likely why this
versatile flower is also called marsh-rosemary.
With a misty and seafoam appearance (two
more names associated with this wildflower-like
plant), in the language of flowers, statice
A symbol of happy life and contented existence,
the stock flower, with its sweet, heady-scented
blooms, is native to Southwestern Greece and the
Typically found in white, pink, red or lilac, stock is
also called gillyflower or Virginia stock.
While their distinctive and brilliant appearance makes it easy to see why sunflowers have long held our fascination, when they were first grown in
Central and South America, it was more for their usefulness (providing oil and food) than beauty. And perhaps this unique combination of striking
beauty and utility is, in part, why sunflowers have appeared as such revered symbols throughout the ages.
It’s said that the natives of the Inca Empire worshipped a giant sunflower, and that Incan priestesses wore large sunflower disks made of gold on
their garments. Images of sunflowers were found in the temples of the Andes mountains, and Native American Indians placed bowls of sunflower
seeds on the graves of their dead. The Impressionist period of art is famous for its fascination with the sunflower, and this striking flower remains
today a commonly photographed and painted icon of uncommon beauty.
The 3rd wedding anniversary flower and the state flower of Kansas, sunflowers turn to follow the sun. Their open faces symbolize the sun itself,
conveying warmth and happiness, adoration and longevity.
With its richly colored yet small, delicate
flowers, the sweet pea’s history can be
Sicilian monk, Franciscus Cupani, sent
its seeds to England. Although that
resemblance to the flower we know
today, when Harry Eckford, a Scottish
nurseryman, crossbred the original
flower, he created the colorful,
ornamental and sweetly scented sweet
Dorothy Eckford, the lavender Lady
Grisel Hamilton, the scarlet King Edward
VII and perhaps his most famous, the
Countess Spencer. Meaning delicate or
blissful pleasure in the language of
flowers, this enchanting flower remains a
favorite fragrant blossom.
common name from the Turkish word for gauze (with
which turbans were wrapped) - reflecting the turban-
single bulb soared to new heights, causing markets
to crash and putting into motion "tulip mania."
Although different tulip colors carry distinct meanings -
yellow tulips symbolizing cheerful thoughts, white
conveying forgiveness and purple representing royalty
- a Turkish legend may be responsible for the red
tulip's symbolism. The story goes that a prince named
Farhad was love struck by a maiden named Shirin.
When Farhad learned that Shirin had been killed, he
was so overcome with grief that he killed himself -
riding his horse over the edge of a cliff. It's said that a
scarlet tulip sprang up from each droplet of his blood,
giving the red tulip the meaning "perfect love."
The 11th wedding anniversary flower, it's said that the
tulip’s velvety black center represents a lover's heart,
darkened by the heat of passion. With the power to
rival roses in their red variety and the sweet charm to
express simple joy when yellow, it’s no wonder that in
addition to all its other symbolism, in the language of
flowers, a tulip bouquet represents elegance and
snapdragons were originally wildflowers in Spain and
Legend has it that concealing a snapdragon makes