The Second Day of Christmas—Plants that Symbolize Love

The Turtle Dove by Sophie Anderson

As turtle doves are emblems of devoted love, this post will feature plants that symbolize love and affection. But how can a plant demonstrate love? Some, like roses, we give to those we love. Others, like the redbud tree, have leaves shaped like hearts, a symbol of love. Others might bring a memory of a place we loved, like the willow tree we climbed in the pastoral New York countryside. Still others may carry a scent that reminds us of love, like the sweet fragrance of gardenias in our wedding bouquet. To me tomatoes are true love, after the planting, tending and harvesting, they are delicious love. Perhaps the best part about plants is that we can share them. We can find something that is meaningful to us and brings us joy, and give it away.  Sharing a bit of ourselves. Giving away happiness in a colorful burst of blossoms or with the hypnotizing scent of roses, this is love.  Which plants speak to you of love?

Besides the plants themselves, each color has a meaning in our culture.  Red symbolizes romantic love, white is humility and innocence, yellow shows friendship and joy, while pink demonstrates gratitude and admiration.  A very popular pastime in the 19th century was assigning meanings to flowers.  Here is a sample of the language of flowers.

  • Carnation…According to legend the dianthus or carnation sprang to life when Christ was born, in another it arose from the tears that his mother Mary shed when he died. It has become a symbol of pure, enduring love.
  • Evening Primrose…The Oenothera became the emblem of silent love because of its habit of opening its delicate pale yellow petals only at night.
  • Red poppies…’my heart cannot be stormed, you must lay siege to it and be patient.’
  • Red Roses, Tulips and Chrysanthemums…True love
  • Purple Lilac…’You are my first love.’
  • Primrose…’I might learn to love you.’
  • Narcissus…’You love no one better than yourself.’
  • Periwinkle…’My heart was whole until I saw you.’
  • Yellow Acacia…’Our love is secret.’
  • Arbutus….’You alone are my love.’
  • Honeysuckle….’This is a token of my love.’
  • Scabious…’You are mistaken, I do not love you.’

I belong to you like this plot of land
That I planted with flowers
And sweet-smelling herbs.
Sweet in its stream
Shy by your hand
Refreshing in the north wind.
A lovely place to wander in
Your hand in my hand.
–Anonymous

Resource: Nature’s Ways…Lore, Legend, Fact and Fiction. by Ruth Binney 2006

Rose

O Beautiful Rose!

Heart Shaped Leaves
Heart Shaped Leaves of the Redbud

7 thoughts on “The Second Day of Christmas—Plants that Symbolize Love

  1. Cathy

    What a lovely post Elaine! The meanings of flowers are always interesting, but grouping them together like this is a wonderful idea. (Especially like the yellow acacia meaning). I was thinking which flowers I associate with love, and I think probably the forget-me-not wins. Not only for its romantic name, but its pretty blue colour and delicate petals – perfect as a posy. 😀

    Reply
    1. rainyleaf Post author

      It’s interesting, maybe we should make up some new meanings with some of our native plants? What does a sword fern have to say? Or a branch or salal? I’ll have to do a post on that one!

      Reply

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