Symbolic meanings of flowers in Western culture  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
symbolism, flower, meaning

Many flowers have important symbolic meanings in Western culture. The practice of assigning meanings to flowers is known as floriography. Some of the more common examples include:

  • Red roses are given as a symbol of love, beauty, and passion.
  • Poppies are a symbol of consolation in time of death. In the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, red poppies are worn to commemorate soldiers who have died in times of war.
  • Irises/Lily are used in burials as a symbol referring to "resurrection/life". It is also associated with stars (sun) and its petals blooming/shining.
  • Daisies are a symbol of innocence.

Flowers within art are also representative of the female genitalia, as seen in the works of artists such as Georgia O'Keefe, Imogen Cunningham, Veronica Ruiz de Velasco, and Judy Chicago, and in fact in Asian and western classical art. Many cultures around the world have a marked tendency to associate flowers with femininity.

The great variety of delicate and beautiful flowers has inspired the works of numerous poets, especially from the 18th-19th century Romantic era. Famous examples include William Wordsworth's I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud and William Blake's Ah! Sun-Flower.

Because of their varied and colorful appearance, flowers have long been a favorite subject of visual artists as well. Some of the most celebrated paintings from well-known painters are of flowers, such as Van Gogh's sunflowers series or Monet's water lilies. Flowers are also dried, freeze dried and pressed in order to create permanent, three-dimensional pieces of flower art.

The Roman goddess of flowers, gardens, and the season of Spring is Flora. The Greek goddess of spring, flowers and nature is Chloris.

In Hindu mythology, flowers have a significant status. Vishnu, one of the three major gods in the Hindu system, is often depicted standing straight on a lotus flower. Apart from the association with Vishnu, the Hindu tradition also considers the lotus to have spiritual significance. For example, it figures in the Hindu stories of creation.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Symbolic meanings of flowers in Western culture" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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