Floral language

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Red roses : a classic symbol to express one's love in the language of flowers (see also roses - mythology, religion and symbolism )

The language of flowers or the language of flowers is a means of non-verbal interpersonal communication . It is used, preferably among lovers , to symbolically express feelings , wishes , requests and complaints without words with the help of flowers or bouquets .


At the beginning of the 18th century, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu reported in her letters from Istanbul about “ communication with flowers”. In the Orient she came across a sophisticated system of meanings that were assigned to the individual flowers. The language of flowers is, however, even older than the code transmitted by Lady Montagu: There was already a floral script in China, and Egyptian hieroglyphs also took the design of plants and flowers as a model. In Istanbul, however, Lady Montagu discovered a fixed meaning that was assigned to every blossom - through her letters the so-called Selam, named after the publicly accessible part of Ottoman houses ( Selamlık ), quickly became fashionable in Victorian Europe. At the time, young lovers in particular could not clearly express what they were thinking, and could not verbally express affection and dislike. The language of flowers therefore became an important means of non-verbal communication.

This was the starting point for the development of an extensive system of signs by means of the handing over of flowers - initially with bouquets of a single type of flower, then later through complicated mixtures to express different subtleties. Every flower and its color, the number in the bouquet, the age of the flower , every herb and every bow had a meaning.

The way in which the flowers were held also determined the statement: if the flowers were pointing downwards, for example, the meaning of the flowers was reversed. In the Victorian era it was also customary for men to present women with a bouquet when they invited them to the ball. The manner in which and where the ladies infected the bouquet was also given meaning. The bouquet above the heart expressed mutual affection, while the flower arrangement in the hair was a non-verbal rejection.

Edith Nesbit made the “language of flowers” ​​very popular with her children's book The wonderful garden (German “The Enchanted Garden”).

Flower statements

For every blossom there was and is more than just one meaning, which has been summarized in many different writings and books on the language of flowers. Here are a few examples of flower language:

  • Columbine : You're a pushover .
  • Anemone : I want to be completely with you .
  • Aster : You are not loyal to me .
  • Amaryllis : I'm proud to be friends with you.
  • Bluestar : Forget! Forgive me!
  • Nettle : I saw through you .
  • Calla : Admiration for the other person's beauty.
  • Chrysanthemum : my heart is free . Can also signal readiness for a relationship.
  • Dahlia : I'm already taken
  • Distel : The thing is too dangerous for me .
  • Edelweiss : You are beautiful .
  • Yew : I love you forever .
  • Enzian : Your beauty is overwhelming .
  • Gerbera : You make everything even more beautiful .
  • Gladiolus : Don't be so proud .
  • Hydrangea : You are too foolish about yourself .
  • Hibiscus : You are a delicate beauty .
  • Iris : Faithful: I always stand by you.
  • Jasmin : You are adorable .
  • Nasturtium : You are hiding something from me .
  • Burdock : You're too clingy to me .
  • Cornflower : I'm not giving up hope .
  • Krokus : I still have to think about it .
  • Mallow : I value you as my best friend .
  • Narcissus : You're pretty vain .
  • Carnation yellow: I despise you .
  • Carnation knows: I'm still available .
  • Parsley : I want to do something nice to you .
  • Peppermint : Forgive me!
  • Blue roses : it's impossible .
  • Red Rose : I love you more than anything .
  • white rosebuds : unable to love; the heart that feels no love
  • Sage : I think of you .
  • Reed : Please finally make up your mind!
  • Red tulips : everlasting love
  • Forget-me-not : don't forget me .

More symbolism of flowers

In addition to the selamik, other symbolic meanings of flowers and plants developed in the course of history. Different meanings are assigned to flowers and plants due to their particular characteristics and appearance. White flowers such as lilies, callas or chrysanthemums are traditionally considered grave decorations and are associated with death, just like the heather blooming in autumn. However, white flowers are also a sign of innocence, purity and hope and are therefore often found in the bridal bouquet. Evergreen trees, on the other hand, stand for life, trees with hanging branches like the weeping willow, on the other hand, for mourning.

See also

The phrase " say something through the flower ".


  • Jack Goody: The Culture of Flowers. Cambridge 1993.
  • Andreas Honegger: The flowers of women: Flower symbolism in paintings from 7 centuries , Elisabeth Sandmann Verlag, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-938045-61-9 .
  • Beverly Seaton: The Language of Flowers. A history. Charlottesville / London 1995.
  • Philip Knight: Flower Poetics in Nineteenth-Century France. Oxford 1986.
  • Isabel Kranz: Flowers that speak. An ABC of plant language. Berlin 2014.
  • Marina Heilmeyer: The language of flowers. From columbine to citrus . Prestel Verlag, Munich u. a. 2002, ISBN 3-7913-2661-9 .
  • Sylvia Tress: The flowers interpret many a secret word: secrets of the language of flowers. Esslinger Verlag, Esslingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-480-22799-0 .


  1. Letters of the Right Honorable Lady Montagu Written during Her Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa to Persons of Distinction, Men of Letters, & c. in Different Parts of Europe.
  2. a b c Selamlik, the language of flowers: Oriental roots ( Memento from April 1, 2012 in the Internet Archive ).
  3. a b c d e f g h Valentine's Day. What exactly means which flower. In: Matador . 2006, p. 126.
  4. a b c d e valentinstaggeschenke.org: Flower language - a flower ABC ( Memento from June 23, 2018 in the Internet Archive ).