Plant Meanings, Symbolism, Folklore and History

Posted on 03/04/2013

Plant Meanings Plant symbolism Plant folklore Plant History

Botanical Name:

Common Name: 

 Thought to be a Symbol of:       

History and Folklore:

Achillea Yarrow Good Health, Everlasting Love, Courage, Psychic Powers, Cure for a Broken Heart  
Aconitum Monkshood Chivalry  
Agastache Hyssop Sacrifice, Cleanliness, Purification, Protection  
Alcea Rosea Hollyhock Ambition, Fruitfulness Since the leaves were used to cure horses' swollen heels, it was initially known as Hockleaf.  People wrongly attributed its orgin to the Holy Land so it came to be known as the Hollyhock.
Alchemilla Lady's Mantle Comforting Love  
Alyssum   Protection, Moderating Anger  
Anemone Windflower Health, Protection, Healing, Fragility  Known as Windflowers for the ancient Greeks believed they would only open their petals when the wind blew and named them after Anemos, the God of the Wind.  Another legend tells us that when Venus was weeping in the forest for Adonis, anemones sprang up where her tears fell -perhaps why Forsaken, after all, is the true meaning.
Aquilegia Columbine Courage, Love, Desertion Aquilegia is from the Latin word for eagle, the base of the flower resembling an eagle's claws.  It reminded others of a flight of doves for it was named Columbine from the Latin "columba" meaning dove.  Shakespeare's Ophelia rightly carried Columbines in her arms as they were perfect for the bouquet of a deserted lover. 
Argyranthemum Marguerite Daisy Purity, Innocence, Loyal Love, Beauty, Patience, Simplicity If a little girl picks a bunch of daisies with her eyes shut, the number of flowers in the posy will be the number of years before she marries.  Daisy means the day's eye or eye of the day.
Artemisia Sagebrush Purification, Exorcism  
Aster Michaelmas Daisy Love, Contentment, Patience, Farewell Aster is Latin for "star" and refers to the flowers star-like shape.  They were later re-named Michaelmas Daisies in Britain, because  when the British adopted Gregory XIII's revised calendar, the feast of Saint Michael coincided with their flowering.   Magnificent curtain calls of summer.
Begonia   Deep Thoughts Founder of the Begonia Charles Plumier named the plant after Michel Begon a botanist he admired whom recommended the Minimus monk to King Louis XIV. 
Bellis English Daisy Innocence    
Calendula Pot Marigold Grief Calendula is the name of the genus because it flowers all round the calendar year.  It signifies grief, it is believed, because the flower daily mourns the departure of the sun when its petals are forced to close.
Campanula Bellflower Gratitude  
Celosia  Cockscomb Affectation  
Centaurea Bachelor's Button Single blessedness, Anticipation, Love It was believed that if a girl hid the flower under her apron, she would have the bachelor of her choice.  Hence the name Bachelor's Buttons.
Chamaemelum Chamomile Money, Sleep, Love, Purification  
Coreopsis Tickseed Always Cheerful  
Cosmos   Peacefullness, Joy in love and life  
Dahlia   Dignity Dahlias are called after Dr. Anders Dahl, a Swedish botanist although they originated in Mexico and were grown by the Aztecs who called them "cocoxochit". 
Delphinium Larkspur Boldness, Beautiful Spirit, Health, Protection  
Dianthus Pinks, Sweet William Gallantry, Pure Love Associated with springing from the Virgin’s tears and therefore presage the Passion of Christ. The Virgin of the Pinks depicts Christ holding them in his hand.
Dicentra Bleeding Heart Unrequited Love The botanical name is from the Greek di (two) and kentron (spur). "Spectabilis" is saying in Latin that it is Spectacular, which it is.
Digitalis Foxglove Protection Thought of as the Fairies' flower and their name is a corruption of Folk's-glove.  They obviously provided more than gloves for the little folk for they are also known as Fairies Petticoats, Fairy-caps and Fairies-dresses.  If you see a foxglove bending over, it is because the fairies are hiding in the bells.
Echinacea Coneflower Strength, Health  
Eupatorium Joe Pye Weed Love, Respect  
Euphorbia   Purification, Protection  
Fuchsia   Humble Love  
Galium  Sweet Woodruff Humility  

Garden Mums:

  Long Life, Friendship, Good Cheer The name Chrysanthemum comes from the Greek words "chrysos" meaning gold, and "anthemon", a flower, for the first species grown was a yellow one.
Bronze   Excitement  
Red   Sharing  
White   Truth  
Yellow   Secret Admirer  
Geranium   Fertility, Health, Love, Protection, True Friendship, Comfort The botanical name comes from the Greek word "geranos", meaning a crane, for the fruit of the plant resembles a crane's beak, hence the nickname Cranesbill.
Gerbera Daisy   Cheefulness, hope  
Grasses, Ornamental   Psychic Powers, Protection  
Gypsophila Baby's Breath Festivity  
Helenium Sneeze Weed Tears  
Heliotrope   Eternal Love, Prophetic Dreams, Healing, Wealth, Invisbility  
Hemerocallis Daylily Coquetry The botanical name comes from the Greek "hemera" - day and "kallos" - beauty because the flowers beauty lasts but a day.


Basil   Good wishes, Love, Wealth, Flying, Protection, Drive away Evil Spirits Thought to be a magic herb for money and success, a happy family, and a peaceful home; also used to drive away the Evil Eye. 
Catnip   Love, Beauty, Happiness, Cat Magic Used to captivate a lover with special ways and to capture his or her heart.
Chives   Usefullness  
Coriander   Love, Health, Healing, Hidden Worth Coriander seeds were used to draw love to a person, stimulate passion, and to keep a lover faithful.
Dill   Protection, Power against evil, Money, Lust, Luck Dill seed was used to make one irresistible to the person they desired, and also to help win in court.
Lavender   Love, Protection, Devotion, Sleep, Chastity & Virtue, Longevity, Purification, Happiness, Peace Used to promote passion, romance, harmony, friendship, and cooperation with a lover.
Marjoram   Protection, Love, Joy & Happiness, Health, Money Used to drive off those who would harm family  or to protect home or business from jinxes.
Mint   Money, Love, Lust, Virtue, Healing,  Travel, Protection An herb thought to break magic spells and jinxes and to gain mental strength during times of difficulty. 
Peppermint   Purification, Sleep, Love, Healing, Psychic Powers, Warmth of Feeling Spearmint & Peppermint were used to attract good spirits and speed good fortune to the bearer.
Oregano   Substance, Love & Honor, Improved Luck Used to keep the law away; also used to keep troublesome in-laws away.
Parsley   Festivity, Love, Protection, Purification It is thought that seeds grown on Good Friday, will bring happiness and fortune.
Rosemary   Remembrance, Fidelity, Protection, Love, Lust, Mental Powers, Purification, Healing, Sleep, Youth. Included in funeral wreaths as a symbol of remembrance and in wedding bouquets as a symbol for fidelity. It's said that if you touch a lover with a sprig of rosemary, they'll be faithful. 
Sage   Wisdom, Immortality, Longevity, Protection, Wishes, Good Health  
Tarragon   Lasting interest  
Thyme   Courage, strength Thought to make money grow and stay with you; to promote good health; to stop nightmares.
Helianthus Sunflower Infatuation/Adoration, Fertility, Wishes, Health, Wisdom The name Helianthus comes from two Greek words "helios" meaning sun  and "anthos" meaning flower.   As a flower which blindly follows the sun, sunflowers have become a symbol of infatuation or foolish passion.
Hibiscus Rose Mallow Delicate Beauty, Lust, Love, Divination  
Iberis Candytuft Indifference One would think that Candytuft got its name from its pink and white flowers, which look like confectioners' sugar lollipops.  The name actually comes from Candia, or Crete, from where it was imported to England in Elizabethan times.
Impatiens   Impatience  
Iris   Faith and Hope, Inspiration, Wisdom, Purification, Protection, Friendship, A Message Iris was a messenger of the ancient Greek Gods and she appeared to mortals on earth in the form of a rainbow.  The glorious arc was said to be the Flight of Iris winging a message across the sky.   The three upright petals and three drooping sepals are symbols for faith, valor, and wisdom.
Lantana   Rigor  
Liatris Gayfeather I will try again  
Linum Flax Money, Protection, Beauty, Psychic Powers, Healing  
Lobelia Cardinal Flower Malevolence  
Lupinus Lupine Imagination  
Marigold   Passion, Creativity, Protection, Prophetic Dreams, Desire for Riches, Psychic Powers ‘Mary’s gold’ is a potent healing and pot herb. Symbols for passion and creativity, they were said to be our lady’s gift to those who had no real gold of their own. They were commonly grown as a healing and pot herb.
Myosotis Forget-Me-Not Request to be Remembered, True Love, Maternal Love A legend tells of the Christ child sitting in his mother’s lap, and wishing that future generations could see them like this. So he touched her eyes and waved his hand over the ground and forget me nots sprang forth. Wherever they are found or represented it reminds the viewer of the strength of maternal love, especially the Virgin’s for our Lord.
Nasturtium   Patriotism The botanical name comes from the Greek word meaning trophy because the flowers and leaves are shaped like helmets and shields- perhaps an explanation for its symbolism.
Oenethera Evening Primrose Protection, Love, Early Youth, Hunting (yellow ones)  
Paeonia Peony Healing, Protection, Bashfulness The Paeonia was named after Paeon, a physician to the Gods, who obtained the plant on Mount Olympus from the mother of Apollo.  Once planted the Peony likes to be left alone and punishes those who try to move it by not flowering again for several years.
Pansy   Loving Thoughts, Divination, Rain Magic Pansy is an English way of saying the French word "pensee´" which means thought, and people used to send these flowers for their nearest and dearst to remember them by.  It was believed that by carrying the flower about with you, you would ensure the l know.
Papaver Poppy Fertility, Love, Sleep, Money, Luck, Invisibility, Fantastic Extravagance Some people think that the latin name Papaver comes from "pap" because the juice was given to babies in their food to make them sleepy.
  Consolation, Also a symbol of remembrance of the fallen in war Associated with the Great War  because of their springing up to cover th corpses of those who fought bravely on the battlefields of Northern France.
White   Sleep, Also for remembrance and to show opposition to warfare  
Chili pepper Fidelity, Hex Breaking, Love  
Persicaria Knotweed Binding, Health  
Petunia   Your Presence soothes me  
Phlox   Agreement, Our souls are united Named after the Greek word "phlox" meaning flame.
Polemonium Jacob's Ladder Come down  
Potentilla Cinquefoil Money, Protection, Prophetic Dreams, Sleep, Beloved Daughter  
Pulmonaria Lungwort You are my life  
Rudbeckia Black Eyed Susan Encouragement, Justice  
Sagina Irish Moss Money, Luck, Protection Carried or placed beneath rugs to increase luck and to ensure a steady flow of money into the house or pockets of the person.
Salvia - Blue   I Think of You  
Salvia - Red      
Scabiosa Pincushion Flower
 Unfortunate Love  
Sedum Stonecrop Tranquility  
Snapdragon Antirrhinum Protection, Presumptuous  
Solidago  Goldenrod  Divine Guidance, Encouragement, Money  
 Sweetpea  Lathyrus Friendship, Chastity, Courage, Strength, Pleasure, Shyness
Thalictrum Meadow Rue Divination  
Verbascum Mullein Courage, Protection, Health, Love, Divination, Exorcism  
Verbena Vervain Love, Protection, Purification, Peace, Money, Youth, Chastity, Sleep, Healing  
Veronica Speedwell Fidelity The origin of the name Veronica is uncertain but it is thought that it possibly comes from the Greek work "beronike" meaning a faithful likeness.  More likely the plant is called Speedwell because the flowers fall as soon as it is picked and people fancied it was like saying goodbye to a parting friend.
Vinca Periwinkle Love, Lust, Mental Prowess, Money, Protection, Tender recollections The blue, star shaped flowers relate to the Virgin as the Star of the Sea (Boulogne)
Viola Violet Loyalty, Devotion, Faithfulness, Protection, Wishes, Peace, Healing, Humility, Modesty, Affection To the Romans it was a symbol of mourning and affection for the dead. Tombs were decorated with them on the festival of the dead (‘Feralia’) in February and at the ‘Violaria’ or feast of violets in March in order to secure the occupants’ peace after death. In the Middle Ages they were the symbol of faithfulness in love. In Christian symbology they represent the Virgin’s humility
Zinnia   Thoughts of Friends, I mourn your absence