Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Flower Meanings

“Then gather a wreath from the garden bowers,
And tell the wish of thy heart in flowers.”
(Edward Elgar, 1872)


In the 1800s, floriography, or the language of flowers, was a way to communicate without words. In this coded language, every familiar plant had a symbolic meaning.

In the Victorian era especially, books with flower “vocabularies” were popular items. These books gave detailed lists of meanings for hundreds of flowers, herbs and trees. For example, in Flora’s Lexicon from 1855, a tulip expressed love, rosemary meant “Your presence revives me,” and a plum branch signified “Keep your promises.”

Would you like to send a flower message to someone special? Here are some flower meanings from The Dominion Educator, published in Canada in 1922.

Anemone: anticipation
Apple blossom: admiration
Buttercup: wealth
Cowslip: youthful beauty
Daisy: simplicity
Evergreen: hope
Everlastings: undying affection
Forget-me-not: friendship
Goldenrod: encouragement
Heather: loneliness
Heliotrope: devotion
Honeysuckle: fidelity
Hyacinth: sorrow
Ivy: trustfulness
Laurel: fame
Lily: innocence
Myrtle: wedded bliss
Oak leaf: power
Orange blossom: marriage
Oxalis: pangs of regret
Pansy: loving thoughts
Poppy: a tryst at evening
Rose, red: I love you
Rose, white: I will marry you
Rosemary: remembrance
Rue: repentance
Scarlet geranium: a kiss
Snowdrop: a friend in need
Violet: modesty