April Showers Bring May Flowers


Adya Mohapatra

ROSES ARE RED Senior Kyle Yoshihara does not view himself as much of a flower person. However, he saw gifting flowers as a very nice gesture. Yoshihara says, “Giving flowers are a symbol of friends and love, so I would give it a specific meaning.”

Adya Mohapatra, Staff Writer

“Again, it depends on what kind of person you are; if you are someone who finds these things significant. If not, it’s not as important to you.”

— Senior Kyle Yoshihara

The language of flowers is something very few individuals know about, and something that even fewer people fully understand. This makes a lot of sense, considering how much of a difference there is between different cultures and the meanings they attach to different flowers. Turns out, there are many rules that are applied in the world of flowers. You must know what you are getting into and how complicated things can get. Despite the high chances of possibly offending others or generally sending people the wrong message, using flowers to convey certain emotions and feelings is a wonderful and beautiful way to build and strengthen the various relationships in your life.

Flowers, as mentioned previously, are said to symbolize different emotions and expressions, but what they signify tends to change from culture to culture. Even within the same culture, there are flowers that are said to mean one thing and are viewed as something else by others. According to The Flower Expert, irises are meant to symbolize eloquence, which could possibly hint at the regality of the receiver or the type of relationship the giver and receiver share. However, another online source, Proflowers, says that irises are meant to represent faith, hope and wisdom, giving the impression that irises are for those whom we see as role models that had a positive impact on our lives. So when gifting flowers to others with a certain intention behind it, make sure the point gets across the way you want it to if it is not entirely clear.

A lot of people view giving others flowers as a romantic thing, but clearly, it does not have to be. Sophomore Kenneth Zahn says birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and big life events, in addition to Valentine’s Day, make great occasions for giving someone flowers. As senior Frayana Kapadia says, “[Give others flowers] whenever you want; you don’t need an excuse to give them.” According to Flowers By Tina, moss is said to be mean maternal love, and would be perfect to give to your mother for Mother’s Day (though your mom may be a little confused, so have an explanation on hand). A few other plants that are great for giving others for platonic purposes are cacti, gladioli, chrysanthemums, narcissuses, magnolias and sunflowers. Cacti symbolize endurance, and could be given to someone you view as a strong person or someone you have shared an arduous experience with. Gladioli show strength of character, honor and faithfulness, although they sometimes mean infatuation. Chrysanthemums signify a variety of things, such as optimism, joy, long life and friendship. These flowers can also be given romantically, however, as they also mean fidelity and love. Narcissuses represent egotism, formality and ‘stay sweet as you are’, while magnolias mean ‘the love of nature’, dignity and nobility. Sunflowers mean adoration, pride and sunshine.

Flowers do not only have to be used to display positive emotions. You can use them to show someone the negative feelings you feel towards them. For example, geraniums represent stupidity and folly. A lot of flowers used to send negative vibes do tend to mean contradictory things, however (as do most flowers in general, but these ones especially). Petunias show resentment and anger, but can also mean ‘your presence soothes me.’ Daffodils can represent unrequited love, but also conveys great regard, chivalry, ‘you are the only one’ and ‘the sun shines when I am with you’. Then there are pines, which are plants rather than flowers, but they still symbolize pity as well as hope. Junior Trevor Pugh says, “If I break up with someone, I would put thorns on the flower.”

There are also the flowers which are more oriented towards romance and heartfelt compliments. Carnations convey pride and beauty and lilies mean refined beauty and purity. Tulips show perfect love while daisies reveal innocence, purity, romance and loyalty in love. Then, there is one of most well-known flowers, the rose. Roses generally signify love and appreciation, but colors play a big role in what a flower conveys, so different colored roses mean different things. Red roses particularly show love, ‘I love you,’ courage and respect, and due to its obvious and straightforward meaning, they are widely gifted.

Adya Mohapatra
IN BLOOM Gifting others flowers is a tradition that has lasted throughout the centuries. Though flower symbolism itself lost popularity, people still love to receive flowers. Flowers By Tina, a botanique, says, “Sending flowers must be one of the most special ways to brighten up someone’s day.”

After seeing just how complicated it is having flowers all signify different things and how some of them even send contradictory messages, one might ask why flower meanings were created in the first place. According to the source Microgrower, there is no specific point in time when flower symbolism first originated, but it has been used for thousands years. Flowers and herbs have been said to have special powers dating back to centuries ago. They have also always been shown to be a major part of the social customs by means of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Chinese myths and legends. The English and French kept the concept going over the years. Kapadia theorizes, “People probably needed a nonverbal way to express their thoughts.” That theory is actually quite accurate since giving others flowers to convey a certain emotion was primarily used in the Victorian Age, when everyone tended to keep their feelings a secret. Men used flowers to show women they were interested in them without having to openly share their emotions. Since flowers were gifted constantly, it was hard to keep track of what all the different flowers symbolized. That is why during this time period, dictionaries decoding flower meanings were common amongst women; to avoid miscommunication. If a woman wanted to tell the man she reciprocated his feelings, she would hold the flowers upwards. If she wanted to reject him, though, she would hold the flowers upside down. Although we do not focus so heavily on flower meanings anymore, the concept of gifting flowers itself has become a social custom representing some type of feelings being shared or acknowledged.

Moving away from flowers and onto the concept of plants in general, according to Living Language, plants greatly differ in meaning depending on different cultures. Pugh says, “One culture could have a flower as a token of gratitude, another culture could have it mean love.” For instance, if you give someone in Brazil a potted plant, the receiver would greatly appreciate it as they would find it a kind gesture. Also, they would not have to go and find a vase for it, which is seen as a wonderful convenience. However, in Japan, it is not a good idea to give a sick individual a potted plant. Doing so gives the impression that you hope the recipient stays sick, and I can guarantee that the recipient will not be very happy with you or the plant in that case. The reason this message is conveyed is that potted plants take root. The homonym for ‘taking root’, a Japanese expression, is ‘staying in bed’. Therefore, a potted plant can give someone the wrong idea, despite good intentions.

As mentioned earlier, colors greatly affect what a flower means. Just as Living Language reveals, in different cultures, not only do different flowers and plants mean a variety of things, but colors do, too. In Arabia, white flowers and other lightly colored flowers are given to people on happy occasions such as births, engagements, and marriages. They are also often given to young women. But, giving someone a white flower in Germany would not be a wise thing to do because white flowers are seen as funeral flowers. Meanwhile, back in Arabia, flowers are never given at funerals. Then, in Greece, carnations are given at both funerals and a special type of music venue, even though carnations are often said to convey pride and beauty as mentioned previously. And because of the contradictory nature of carnations in Greece, they are never gifted.

Getting so involved and invested in the meanings of flowers is something a lot of people tend to avoid.  It just seems like a hassle and unnecessary when you can simply use your words to send the same message. However, like freshman Hannah Yukish says, “ it is a good way to relate to something and relate to nature and symbolism.” Senior Kyle Yoshihara says, “I think it’s a good idea, for lack of better terms, that partners or significant others giving inanimate objects meaning is a way of making a relationship deeper and richer, like with inside jokes.” Clearly, flower symbolism is not for everyone, but the concept of gifting flowers themselves is one often welcomed. Even for those who do not care for the deeper meanings of flowers, one cannot deny that it is quite a nice gesture and can really brighten someone’s day. Like freshman Thomas Tastad says, “I wouldn’t ask [for them], but I wouldn’t turn it down. I don’t care too much.” Overall, when navigating through the complex, yet beautiful world of flowers, do not forget to venture carefully, but do not hesitate to get wrapped up in the language of flowers.