The Language of Flowers

I've scoured the net for as much information as I can find on this subject, and tried to put it all together in some semblance of order! Some of the definitions from different sources appear to contradict each other - well, there you go! Also, I have included common names and botanical names for the same plant separately. Here's the result, make of it what you will!


Acacia - Secret love; chaste love; beauty in retirement; elegance; friendship; hope
Acanthus - Art or artistic; the fine arts; artifice
Achillea millefolia - War
Aconite (Wolf's Bane) - Misanthropy
Acorn - Nordic symbol of life and immortality
Agapanthus - Love letters
Agnus castus - Coldness; indifference
Allspice - Compassion
Almond Blossom - Hope; lover's charm
Aloe - Grief
Alstroemeria - Devotion; friendship
Alyssum - Worth beyond beauty
Ambrosia - Love returned
Amaranth - Fidelity
Amaranth, Globe - Unchangeable; immortality; unchanging love
Amaryllis - Pride; Timidity; splendid beauty
Anemone - Unfading love; truth; sincerity; anticipation; forsaken; fading hope
Angelica - Inspiration
Aniseed - Restoration of youth
Apple blossom - Preference; good fortune
Arbor Vitae - True friendship
Arbutus - Thee only do I love
Artemisia - Dignity
Asphodel - My regrets follow you to the grave
Aster - Love; daintiness
Azalea - Take care of yourself for me; fragile passion; temperance; Chinese symbol of womanhood

Bachelor's Buttons - Celibacy; single blessedness; hope in love
Baby's Breath - Everlasting love; happiness; pure in heart
Basil - Best Wishes; love; hatred
Bay Leaf - Strength; I change but in death
Bear's Breeches - Art or artistic; the fine arts; artifice
Begonia - Beware
Betony - Surprise
Bells Of Ireland - Good luck
Bilberry - Treachery
Bird Of Paradise - Magnificence
Bittersweet - Truth
Bluebell - Humility; constancy
Borage - Courage; bluntness
Bouquet of withered flowers - Rejected love
Broom - Humility; neatness
Bulrush - Indiscretion; docility
Burnet - A merry heart
Buttercup - Cheerfulness; ingratitude; childishness; desire for riches

Cactus - Endurance; warmth; grandeur
Calendula - Joy
Calla - Magnificent beauty
Camellia - Admiration; perfection; good luck gift to a man; loveliness
Camellia (Pink) - Longing for you
Camellia (Red) - You're a flame in my heart
Camellia (White) - You're adorable
Camomile - Energy in adversity
Candytuft - Indifference
Carnation (in general) Bonds of affection; health and energy; fascination; alas for my poor heart
Carnation (pink) - I'll never forget you
Carnation (purple) - Capriciousness; whimsical; changeable
Carnation (red) - My heart aches for you; admiration
Carnation (solid colour) -Yes
Carnation (striped)- No; refusal; sorry I can't be with you; wish I could be with you
Carnation (white) -Sweet and lovely; innocence; pure love; woman's good luck gift
Carnation (yellow) - You have disappointed me; Rejection; disdain
Cattail - Peace; prosperity
Cedar - I live for thee; think of me
Celandine - Joys to come
Chamomile - Patience ; attracts wealth
Chysanthemum (in general) - Cheerfulness; You're a wonderful friend
Chysanthemum (red) - I love
Chysanthemum (white) - Truth
Chysanthemum (yellow) -Slighted love
Cinnamon - My fortune is yours
Clover (four-leaf) - Good luck; be mine
Columbine - Folly
Coreopsis - Always cheerful
Corn - Riches
Cornflower - Delicacy; refinement
Coriander - Lust
Cowslip - Pensiveness; winning grace
Coxcomb - Foppery
Crocus - Cheerfulness; abuse not; joy
Crown Imperial - Majesty; power
Cyclamen - Resignation and goodbye; diffidence

Daffodil - Respect; regard; unrequited love; deceit
Dahlia - Good taste; instability
Daisy - Innocence; loyal love; purity; faith; cheer; simplicity
Dandelion - Wishes come true; faithfulness; happiness; rustic oracle
Daphne odora - Painting the lily
Delphinium - Airy
Dogwood - Durability

Edelweiss - Daring; noble courage
Eglantine - Poetry; I wound to heal
Elder - Zealousness
Elm - Dignity
Eucalyptus - Protection
Eupatorium - Delay
Fennel - Worthy of all praise; strength
Fern - Sincerity
Fern (Magic) - Fascination; confidence and shelter
Fern (Maidenhair) - Secret bond of love
Feverfew - Protection
Fig - Argument
Fir - Time
Flax - Domestic symbol; fate; I feel your kindness
Forget-me-not - True love; memories; forget me not
Forsythia - Anticipation
Foxglove - Insincerity
Fuchsia - Good taste
Fuller's Teasel - Misanthropy

Gardenia - You're lovely; secret love; refinement; joy
Garland of roses - Reward of virtue
Garlic - Courage; strength
Geranium (Oak leafed) - Friendship
Geranium (Rose) - Preference
Geranium (Scented) - Preference, melancholy; stupidity; folly
Gillyflower - Bonds of affection
Gladiolus - Love at first sight; ready-armed; strength of character; generosity
Gloxinia - Love at first sight
Golden Rod - Precaution
Grass - Submission; utility
Guelder Rose - Winter; age

Harebell - Submission; grief
Hawthorn - Hope
Hazel - Reconciliation
Heather (lavender) - Admiration; solitude
Heather (pink) - Good luck
Heather (white) - Protection; wishes will come true; good luck
Helenium - Tears
Heliotrope - Devotion; eternal love; faithfulness
Hemlock - You will be my death
Hibiscus - Delicate beauty
Holly - Good will; defence; domestic happiness; foresight
Hollyhock - Female ambition; fecundity
Honesty - Honesty; fascination
Honeysuckle - Generous and devoted affection; sweetness of disposition
Hop - Injustice
Hyacinth (general) - Rashness, sorrow, flower dedicated to Apollo
Hyacinth (blue) - Constancy
Hyacinth ( purple) - I'm sorry; please forgive me; sorrow
Hyacinth (red or pink) - Play
Hyacinth (white) - Loveliness; I'll pray for you
Hyacinth (yellow) - Jealousy
Hydrangea - Thank you for understanding; frigidity; heartlessness; vanity
Hyssop - Wards away evil spirits; cleanliness

Ice plant - Your looks freeze me
Iris - Faith; hope; wisdom and valour; my compliments; eloquence; message
Ivy - Fidelity; friendship; affection; marriage

Jasmine - Amiability; wealth; grace and elegance
Jonquil - Love me; affection returned; desire; sympathy
Judas Tree - Unbelief; betrayal
Juniper - Protection; succour

Kingcup - Desire for riches

Laburnum - Forsaken; pensive beauty
Larkspur (pink) - Fickleness; levity
Laurel (mountain) - Ambition; glory
Lavender - Devotion, distrust
Lemon - Zest
Lemon Balm - Brings love
Lemon verbena - Attracts opposite sex
Lilac - First love
Lily (general) - Purity
Lily (calla) - Beauty
Lily (day) - Coquetry
Lily (eucharis) - Maidenly charms
Lily (orange) - Hatred
Lily (tiger) - Wealth; pride
Lily (white) - Virginity; purity; majesty; it's heavenly to be with you
Lily (yellow) - I'm walking on air; false and gay
Lily of the valley - sweetness; return to happiness; humility; perferct purity
Lobelia - Malevolence
Love-in-a-mist - Perplexity
Love-lies-bleeding - Hopeless; not heartless
Lupin - Voraciousness; admiration

Magnolia - Sweetness; beauty; love of nature; nobility; dignity; splendid beauty
Marigold - Comforts the heart; grief; cruelty; jealousy; sacred affection
Marjoram (sweet) - Joy and happiness; blushes
Meadowsweet - Uselessness
Michaelmas Daisy - Afterthought; farewell
Mignionette - Your qualities surpass your charms
Mimosa - Sensitivity
Mint - Protection from illness; warmth of feeling; virtue
Mistletoe - Kiss me; affection; I surmount difficulties; sacred plant of India, magic plant of the Druids
Monkshood - Beware, a deadly foe is near; chivalry
Morning Glory - Affectation
Moss - Maternal love; charity
Myrrh - Gladness
Myrtle - Love; love in absence; remembrance; Hebrew emblem of marriage
Myrtle (wax) - Discipline; instruction

Narcissus - Egotism; formality; stay as sweet as you are; you love yourself too well; self-esteem
Nasturtium - Conquest; victory in battle; maternal love; charity; patriotism
Nightshade - Truth

Oak leaves - Bravery
Oleander - Caution; beware
Orange - Generosity
Orange Blossom - Wisdom; purity; eternal love; your purity equals your loveliness
Orange (mock) - Deceit
Orchid - Love; beauty; refinement; you flatter me
Orchid (Cattleya) - Mature charm

Palm leaves - Victory and success
Pansy - Thoughts; love
Parsley - Festivities
Pasque Flower - You have no claims
Peach blossom - Longevity; I am your captive
Peony - Shame; bashfulness; anger; indignation
Peppermint - Warmth of feelings
Periwinkle (blue) - Early friendship
Periwinkle (white) - Pleasures of memory
Persicaria - Restoration
Petunia - Resentment; anger; your presence soothes me; never despairing
Phlox - Agreement; unanimity; sweet dreams
Pine - Hope; pity
Pink - Boldness
Poinsettia - Be of good cheer
Polyanthus - Pride of riches
Poppy (general) - Eternal sleep; oblivion; imagination; extravagance
Poppy (red) -Pleasure; fantastic extravagance
Poppy (white) - Consolation; sleep
Poppy( yellow) - Wealth; success
Prickly Pear - Satire
Primrose - I can't live without you; early youth; young love
Primrose (evening) - Inconstancy

Quaking Grass - Agitation
Queen Anne's Lace - Fantasy
Quince - Temptation

Ranunculus - You are radiant with charms
Rocket - Rivalry
Rose (red) - Love ; I love you
Rose (white) - Eternal Love; innocence; heavenly; secrecy and silence
Rose (pink) - Perfect happiness; please believe me
Rose (yellow) - Friendship; jealousy; try to care
Rose (black) - Death
Rose (red and white) - Together; unity
Rose (thornless) - Love at first sight
Rose (single, full bloom) - I love you; I still love you
Rose bud - Beauty and youth; a heart innocent of love
Rose bud (red) - Pure and lovely
Rose bud (white) - Girlhood
Rosebud (moss) - Confessions of love
Roses (bouquet of full bloom) - Gratitude
Roses (garland or crown of) - Beware of virtue; reward of merit; crown ; symbol of superior merit
Roses (musk cluster) - Charming
Rose (tea) - I'll always remember
Rose (cabbage) - Ambassador of love
Rose (Christmas) - Tranquilize my anxiety; anxiety
Rose (damask) - Brilliant complexion
Rose (dark crimson) - Mourning
Rose (hibiscus) - Delicate beauty
Rose leaf - You may hope
Rosemary - Remembrance; commitment; fidelity
Rudbeckia - Justice
Rue - Disdain

Saffron - Beware of excess
Sage - Wisdom; long life; domestic virtue
Salvia (blue) - I think of you
Scabious - Unfortunate love
Shamrock - Lightheartedness
Smilax - Loveliness
Snapdragon - No; deception; gracious lady; presumption
Snowdrop - Hope
Spearmint - Warmth of sentiment
Spiderflower - Elope with me
Spindle Tree - Your charms are engraved on my heart
Statice - Lasting beauty
Star of Bethlehem - Atonement; purity
Stephanotis - Happiness in marriage; desire to travel; come to me
Stock - Lasting beauty; promptness
Strawberry - Perfect goodness
Sunflower - Loyalty; haughtiness; you are splendid
Sweet Basil - Good luck
Sweet pea - Goodbye; departure; blissful pleasure; Thank you for a lovely time
Sweet William - Grant me one smile; perfection; gallantry
Syringa - Memory

Tamarisk - Crime
Thrift - Sympathy
Thyme - Strength and courage; activity
Tuberose - Dangerous pleasure
Tulip(general) - Fame; charity; declaration of love;
Tulip(red) - Believe me; declaration of love
Tulip(variegated) - Beautiful eyes
Tulip(yellow) - Hopeless love


Valerian - An accommodating disposition
Vernal Grass - Poor but happy
Veronica - Fidelity
Violet - Modesty; faithfulness
Violet (blue) - Watchfulness; faithfulness; I'll always be true
Violet (white) - Let's take a chance on happiness
Viscaria - Will you dance with me?

Wallflower - Fidelity in adversity
Water Lily - Purity of heart
Wistaria - I cling to you
Woodruff - Sweet humility
Wormwood - Absence

Xeranthemum - Cheerfulness under adversity

Yarrow - Health; healing
Yew - Sorrow

Zinnia - Thoughts of friends
Zinnia (magenta) - Lasting affection
Zinnia (mixed) - Thinking of an absent friend
Zinnia (scarlet) - Constancy
Zinnia (white) - Goodness
Zinnia (yellow) - Daily remembrance


Site developed and maintained by Chrissie Harten
Words and pictures Chrissie Harten, 2004.