Throughout the ages, flowers have been used as symbols for love and war. The War of the Roses was so titled because of the shields the different houses wore. One bore a red rose and one bore a white rose. Red roses have become the standard gift for spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Roses are not the only flowers that have symbolic meaning. The following is a list of different flowers and what they symbolize.

Iris

Symbol of renewal, faith, valor, wisdom, hope, power, and royalty.

In ancient Greece, people would plan irises on their loved one’s graves in the hope that the goddess Iris would lead them on her rainbow to the afterlife. In ancient Egypt, the three petals of the iris represented faith, valor, and wisdom. The iris also symbolized the renewal and essence of life. Louis VII of France used the iris as a symbol on his shield. The iris then became the fleur-de-lis which symbolizes power and royalty. Iris flowers symbolize hope. They have been gifted to people who have lost faith or need to feel uplifted. The iris is the main gift for a 25th wedding anniversary and is the flower for those born in February.

Iris flower symbolism
Iris flower symbolism

Pansy

Symbol of love, knowledge, and thoughtfulness.

In Victorian England, people would use flowers to communicate certain amorous thoughts. If a person was sent a bouquet of herbs with a pansy it meant that the sender felt amorous thoughts about the receiver. They also symbolized missing people and wanted to be with someone. The Freethinker’s Society which was founded in New York in 1915 used the pansy as a symbol of their society. The pansy represented free thought from religious dogma, expectations, societal constraints, and emotions. Pansies were thought to have the power to help people fall in love as their petals resemble hearts.

Pansy Flower Symbolism
Pansy Flower Symbolism

Poppy

Symbol of sleep, death, and peace.

Ancient Greeks and Romans associated the poppy with love, healing, and fertility. Somnus, the Greek god of sleep created the poppy to help the goddess Cereus sleep. Ceres could not sleep because her daughter was missing. Since Ceres was the goddess of corn, the corn was not growing because she was anxious and awake. Once she received the poppy that helped her sleep the corn grew again. Ancient Greeks would plant poppies in their cornfields to encourage the corn to grow. Another legend says that Demeter the Greek goddess of fertility created the poppy to get some sleep after she lost her daughter, Persephone. Hypnos and Thanatos who represent sleep and death were depicted holding poppies and having poppies in their hair. During the Battle of Waterloo, poppies were discovered growing on the battlefield. The poppies were thought to be red because of the blood of the dead. Poppies were also the flower that caused Dorothy and the others to fall asleep in the Wizard of Oz. Today poppies are worn in remembrance of soldiers who have died.

Poppy Symbolism
Poppy Symbolism

Hyacinth

Symbol of play, sport, constancy, rebirth, peace, and prudence.

According to Greek legend, the gods Apollo and Zephyr were both in love with a Greek mortal whose name was Hyakinthos. Both of the gods were jealous of the love they shared for Hyakinthos. One day Apollo was teaching him to throw a discus. Zephyr, the god of the west wind, caused the discus to blowback and hit Hyakinthos on the head killing Hyakinthos instantly. A flower grew from the blood of Hyakinthos and Apollo named the flower Hyacinth. In New England, the Hyacinth symbolizes the coming of spring and rebirth. In Christianity, the flower symbolizes peace of mind and prudence.

Hyacinth Symbolism
Hyacinth Symbolism

Cyclamen

Symbol of love and tenderness.

The cyclamen has become a symbol of the Virgin Mary. The flower seems to bow its head in prayer and inside the white petals is a deep red color that is symbolic of Mary’s bleeding heart for her son. Cyclamen has come to mean sincere tenderness and love. The cyclamen is the holy flower of love in Japan.

Cyclamen flower symbolism
Cyclamen flower symbolism

Peony

Symbol of bashfulness, healing, wealth, honor, nobility, peace, and good fortune.

In Greek mythology, Apollo was flirting with a nymph named Paeonia. When Aphrodite caught Paeonia flirting with Apollo Paeonia turned red. Aphrodite turned her into a flower which is the modern-day peony. Peonies were used medicinally to cure snake bites and epilepsy. Peonies are highly valued in China. They were planted at the Imperial Palace and were considered China’s king of flowers. In Japan, the peony is a symbol of peace and good fortune.

Peony flower symbolism
Peony flower symbolism

Anemone

Symbol of sorrow, fragility, good luck, bad luck, anticipation, and protection.

In Greek mythology, while Aphrodite was mourning the death of Adonis, her tears produced anemones. In Victorian England, it was the symbol of fragility. Because the petals of the anemones close at night and open in the morning it symbolizes anticipation. In Western culture, it is a symbol of good luck but in the Eastern culture anemones are a symbol of bad luck. In Christian symbolism, the anemone represents the blood Jesus shed while on the cross. In England, anemones were considered a protection against sickness.

Anemone Symbolism
Anemone Symbolism

Amaranth

Symbol of immortality, and immortal love.

The amaranth flower holds its bloom for quite a while so it has become the symbol for immortality. Images of amaranth flowers have decorated tombs in ancient Greece. In Ancient Greek mythology, amaranth was a flower that was hidden by the gods. Whoever found it became immortal. Also in Greek mythology, Amaranthus was loved by Artemis. Amaranthus joined Artemis in her hunt but was killed by Posidon. Artemis turned him into the flower amaranth. The amaranth is the sacred flower of Artemis.

Amaranth Symbolism
Amaranth Symbolism

Narcissus

Symbol of vanity, rebirth, wealth, luck, and devotion.

From Greek mythology, this flower was thought to be all that was left of the Greek god Narcissus when he died. It is also associated with spring and rebirth. If you spot the first narcissus in Wales in the spring you will have one year of wealth. In China, if a narcissus blooms in your house you will have one year of good luck. In Victorian England narcissus meant devotion.

Narcissus Flower Symbolism
Narcissus Flower Symbolism

Roses

Symbol of undying love, royalty, purity, unity, jealousy, infidelity, friendship, grace, and mystery.

Roses have been symbolic around the world for a long time. The Goddess Aphrodite was associated with roses in ancient Greece. Aphrodite used the oil of the rose to protect the body of Hector, a Trojan prince. She also was picked by a rose thorn trying to get to her dying lover Adonis. Her blood turned the rose a deep red. That is the beginning of the red rose as a symbol of undying love. In Christianity, the rose is associated with the Virgin Mary. The rosary and other holy prayers were developed from the rose. In England, the rose is the national flower. It was depicted on the shields of the armies who fought in The War of the Roses. The rose is also a symbol of socialism. The Socialist party in France wore red roses in protest of the Anti-Socialist laws of 1878.

White roses are a symbol of purity and love, thus they are often associated with weddings.

Red and White roses symbolize unity and togetherness relating to England after the War of the Roses.

Yellow roses came to symbolize infidelity and jealousy after the Prophet Mohammed became jealous of his wife. Mohammed was away fighting and became convinced that his wife was being unfaithful. The angel Gabriel told Mohammed that when he returned he should order his wife to throw whatever she was holding into the river if it turned yellow it meant she was unfaithful. When Mohammed returned home he ordered his wife to throw the red roses she was carrying into the river. They turned yellow and Mohammed was convinced she had been unfaithful.

Pink roses symbolize friendship and the beginning of love. They also symbolize grace and elegance.

Lavender roses symbolize mystery as they are close to the unattainable blue color.

Roses Symbolism
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