Main Narrative » The Language of Flowers

How did flowers get their meanings?

By Amy Weiss

Mar 27 2019

There were three main sources for the definitions used by the Victorian Language of Flowers:

Natural appearance or character
A plant’s scent, appearance, native habitat, or medicinal uses often contributed to its symbolism.

Cultural meanings
Folk tales, legends, and mythology were all important sources of plant symbolism; along with art and literature. Poetry made extensive use of plants and flowers whose meanings added resonance to the verses. Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets featured more than 200 plants and their meanings; the Victorian flower language depended heavily on these associations.

Meanings arbitrarily assigned by early authors of flower vocabularies
Later authors often faithfully followed these meanings.

More about: Seed plants

Laufer, G. A. 1993. Tussie-mussies: The Victorian art of expressing yourself in the language of flowers. New York: Workman Publishing Company.