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The Meaning of Flowers


Alstroemeria-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.

Anthurium-With their open, heart-shaped flowers and tropical disposition, it’s no wonder that anthurium have come to symbolize hospitality.

Bird of paradise- Bearing an unmistakable resemblance to a brightly colored bird in flight, bird of paradise are native to south Africa and represent joyfulness and (not surprisingly) paradise itself. Bird of Paradise are the 9th wedding anniversary flower.

Carnation- 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.

Chrysanthemum- They’re the November birth flower, the 13th wedding anniversary flower and the official flower of the city of Chicago. 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.

Daffodil-Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil is virtually synonymous with spring. 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.

Larkspur / delphinium- The July birth flower, these lush, dolphin-shaped flowers symbolize an open heart and ardent attachment and convey a feeling of lightness and levity. Used by Native Americans and European settlers to make blue dye, it’s believed that the most ancient use of delphinium flowers was for driving away scorpions.

Hydrangea- 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) and others suggesting that a bouquet of hydrangea expresses the giver’s gratefulness for the recipient’s understanding. Still others suggest it represents anything that’s sincerely heartfelt. Despite this variation in flower meaning, there appears to be an overwhelming consensus that this 4th wedding anniversary flower possesses enduring grace and beauty.

Iris- 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.

Lily- 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.

Lisianthus- With wide ruffled, delicate petals and oval leaves, in colors ranging from white to pink, lavender to purple and bicolors such as blue-violet, it’s said that lisianthus also symbolize appreciation.

Orchid-The most highly coveted of ornamental plants, the delicate, exotic and graceful orchid represents love, luxury, beauty and strength. In ancient Greece, orchids were associated with virility. today this sense of magnificence and artful splendor continues, with orchids representing rare and delicate beauty. The 14th wedding anniversary flower, pink orchids convey pure affection, and the popular cattelya orchid represents mature charm.

Peony- 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 marriage.
Poinsettia- 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 celebration.

Rose- 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.

Snapdragon- It’s said that the common name for this colorful flower comes from the snap it makes when the sides of the “dragon’s mouth” are gently squeezed. Legend has it that concealing a snapdragon makes a person appear fascinating and cordial, and in the language of flowers, snapdragons are said to represent both deception (perhaps tied to the notion of concealment) and graciousness.

Statice- With a misty and seafoam appearance (two more names associated with this wildflower-like plant), in the language of flowers, statice symbolizes remembrance.

Stock- A symbol of happy life and contented existence, the stock flower, with its sweet, heady-scented blooms, is native to Southwestern Greece and the Mediterranean. Typically found in white, pink, red or lilac, stock is also called gillyflower or Virginia stock.

Sunflower- 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.

Tulip- 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 grace.



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