Birth Flowers

Birth Flower for the Month of January

Carnation

Red – Worldly Desires and Approval
Purple – Unpredictable and Opposing
Pink – Symbol of Mother’s Day
White- True and Pure Love

Good Luck Gift to a Woman

The first mention of carnations was when the Crusaders were stricken with plague, in the thirteenth century, near Tunis. They mixed the leaves of carnations with wine and drank it to control the raging fevers. In his sixteenth-century herbal, John Gerard wrote that the flowers of carnations and sugar, mixed to a conserve, was used to expel fevers and poison and was good to “comfort the heart.” Carnations were used for black hair dye, and to flavor beer, ale, and wine. According to a Christian legend, Mary began to cry when she saw Jesus carrying the cross. Where her tears fell, carnations began to grow which may have been why the Pink carnation was chosen as a symbol of motherly love. Margherita, according to an Italian legend, was a young woman who fell in love with a knight whose name was Orlando. Margherita gave Orlando a white carnation, which he carried with him, when he was called to war. Orlando’s blood stained the center of the white carnation when he was mortally wounded. The white carnation was returned to the heartbroken Margherita who planted the seeds. Every blossom that came from the seeds was white with crimson centers. Margherita remained true to Orlando forever and never married. It became a custom in Margherita’s family to deliver to each baby girl born into the family, a vase of white carnations with crimson centers. Carnations were used in many countries and many cultures. They were used to tell fortunes in Korea. Young girls would place three carnations in their hair. It signified that her last years would be difficult if the top flower died first. The earlier years would be difficult and hard if the center flower died first, and superstition held that her entire life would be miserable if the bottom flower died first.

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Birth Flower for the Month of February

Violet

A Good Luck Gift to a Woman.
Modesty and Simplicity.
I return your love

According to a Grecian mythological legend, Io, a nymph and the daughter of the river-god Inachus, was loved by Zeus. In order to hide her from the suspicious eyes of Hera, Zeus changed Io into a white heifer (cow). Io began to cry because of the harshness of the common grass she was forced to eat. Zeus decided to create a new and more suitable plant for the delicate Io, and he created the violet by changing her tears into the sweet-smelling flower as a special feed for her. During the exile of Napoleon I at Elba, in the year 1814, preceding Napoleon’s abdication, the French Bonapartists chose, as their emblem, the violet because of the Capitulation of Paris. They nicknamed Napoleon “Caporal Violet, the little flower that returns with spring”. Postcards picturing a bunch of innocent looking violets soon flooded France, but when scrutinized closely, the violets in the bouquet revealed the outlines of portraits of Napoleon, Maria Louise and of their three year old son, Charles, King of Rome. The French government fought, by decree on and off, until the year 1874 any reproduction of a violet because it was the symbol of the Bonapartists.

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Birth Flower for the Month of March

Jonquil

Jonquil Violent Sympathy and Desire.
Have pity on my passion.

Although the jonquil is a member of the narcissus family, the narcissus have only one flower per stem and the jonquil have cluster of flowers per stem. The particularly favorite flower of Queen Anne was jonquils. She wove patterns of jonquil blossoms in her delicate needlework which included carpets, tapestry and dresses. She was inspired by her love of jonquils to establish Kensington Palace Gardens, the first public gardens in England. A Greek myth relates the story of Proserpina. While she gathering lilies, she was kidnapped the to god Pluto who carried her to the underworld. As Pluto carried Proserpina, she dropped the lilies. As the lilies fell to earth, they became daffodils, hanging their heads for Proserpina’s sorrow. A superstition in Maine states that you will cause a daffodil not bloom if you point at it with an index finger.

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Birth Flower for the Month of April

Sweet Pea

Departure and Good-bye

Sweet peas were especially popular during the late nineteenth century and were widely grown in 1722 for their sweet fragrance. Sweet peas are considered, by some people, the floral emblem for Edwardian England and used often as a cut flower. Sweet peas were an important part of floral arrangements for every wedding and dinner party. Dried petals of sweet peas was one of the most important ingredients for potpourris. According to reports, the Reverend W. T. Hutchins was reported saying that the sweet pea has “a fragrance like the universal gospel, yea, a sweet prophecy of welcome everywhere that has been abundantly fulfilled.” Superstition has it that seeds sown before sunrise on Saint Patrick’s day will have larger and more fragrant blossoms. Others believe the same results will occur if seeds are sown anytime between the feasts of Saints David and Chad (March 1 and 2) and of Saint Benedict (March 21). In the study of heredity, Father Gregor Mendel first performed his famous work in genetics using sweet peas. Lathyrus, the genus name, comes from the Greek word for pulse.

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Birth Flower for the Month of May

Lily of the Valley

Sweetness and Renewed Happiness.
“Let us make up.”
Purity and Humility.

Cherished and revered in many countries for it’s symbolism and folklore, lily of the valley has been extensively used for medicinal purposes. It was believed to strengthen memory, to restore speech to those who could not speak, to treat gout, and, as a liquor smeared on the forehead and the back of the neck, to make one have good common sense. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, despite it’s alleged powers. Lily of the valley is wrapped in much symbolism. It is often called ladder to heaven or Jacob’s tears, and is considered the sign of Christ’s second coming. The Song of Solomon in the Bible also mentions Lily of the valley. Legend holds that Mary’s tears turned to lily of the valley when she cried at the cross and thus are also known as Mary’s tears. The power of men to envision a better world was attributed to the lily of the valley. A French legend tells of a holy man known as Saint Leonard, a close friend of King Clovis, who lived in the Vienne Valley near Limoges in 559 AD. Saint Leonard, a brave and fearless fighter, wanted to spend his days among the flowers and trees communing with God, and so he asked permission to go live in the woods. He lived the life of a hermit, having renounced all worldly things, in the same woods where also dwelled the dragon Temptation. Saint Leonard was at prayer and did not hear the dragon when it demanded that Saint Leonard leave the woods. So the evil dragon burned down Saint Leonard’s hut with his fiery breath. Much blood was spilled as terrible battles took place between them. Saint Leonard became the conqueror as he drove the evil dragon further and further back into the woods until the dragon disappeared altogether. Poisonous weeds began to grow where the dragon spilled his blood, but beds of lilies of the valley sprang up wherever the ground was sprinkled with Saint Leonard’s blood to mark the places of their battles.

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Birth Flower for the Month of June

Rose

Single Red Rose: Symbol of True Love.
Good Luck Gift to a Woman.
Rosebud: Beauty and Youth.

White Rose: Charm and Innocence.
Pink Rose: “Our Love is Perfect Happiness.
Yellow Rose: Jealousy and Infidelity.

Many roses were grown in Medieval gardens. They were grown more for medicine and food than for beauty. Rosaries made from compressed rose petals were also very popular. Ailments such as Sleeplessness, headaches, hemorrhages, earaches, toothaches, nosebleeds, lungs, stomach and intestines were thought to be cured by roses. An ancient Persian legend tells how the most precious of all Persian perfumes came about. The palace gardens were interspersed with canals and fountains which were decorated with rose petals in preparation for the wedding of the caliph Jehangir and his beautiful wife. While walking along the paths with his betrothed, Jehangir noticed an oily film floating on the water. He became so infatuated by the heady scent of the oil, which was produced by the action of the sun on the roses, that he ordered it bottled for later use; thus it was considered the most precious of Persian fragrances. From the days of the Roman Empire arose the legend of the origin of the rose. It was said that a woman, Rhodanthe, who, because of her exquisite beauty, had many, many suitors. Rhodanthe, not interested in any of her suitors, traveled to the Temple of Diana, seeking refuge, but the persistent suitors followed her to the Temple breaking down the gates to get closer to Rhodanthe. Diana, becoming infuriated at the destruction of her Temple, turned the suitors into thorns and Rhodanthe into a beautiful rose. There has been much writing about the rose, but none of more historical significance than that of the English War of Roses which was fought between the House of Lancaster, whose symbol was the red rose, and House of York, symbolized by the white rose. The end of the war brought about the establishment of the House of Tudor on the English Throne. The flower emblem of England is, today, The Rose of Tudor, a white rose charged upon a red rose. The New York state flower is the rose, and the emblem of Washington D. C. is the American beauty rose. The rose was chosen as the national flower of the United States in 1886.

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Birth Flower for the Month of July

Delphinium

Delphinium Open Heart and Ardent Attachment.
Larkspur Symbol of Lightness and Swiftness.

The common name for this plant came about by the shape of the blossom. The long spur of the flower reminded people of the nose of a dolphin; thus, delphinium, the Greek word meaning “dolphin”. The spur also reminded some people of parts of the lark: thus, larkspur, lark’s heel, and lark’s claw. The most ancient use of the delphinium was as a strong external medicine thought to drive away scorpions and beasts by the seeds and leaves which were thought to possess great power. Ground to a powder, the seeds were used to treat a toothache. Lice in the hair were destroyed by many species of delphinium. Larkspur destroyed the lice in the hair of the warriors during the American Civil War, and at the Battle of Waterloo. Wounds were dressed with species of Delphinium. The wild strains are often the cause death among cattle, the plants being extremely poisonous. Delphinium (Larkspur) originated, according to legend, during the Battle of Troy. Achilles mother requested that her son’s armor be given to the most heroic Greek Warrior. The armor was given to Ulysses, although the brave Ajax expected to be chosen, and, because of his dejection, Ajax killed himself. The small blue larkspur began to grow where spilled the blood of Ajax.

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Birth Flower for the Month of August

Gladiolus

Gladiolus Flower of the Gladiators.
“You Pierce My Heart.”

Wild gladiolus was considered important for medicinal purposes; a custom which was passed on to the English who grew them primarily for their beauty. The corms, used as a poultice, was good for drawing out thorns and splinters, or so it was written by John Gerard in “Herbal”. Dried to a powder, corms were mixed with goat’s milk to treat colic or added to breads. The engineer who built the bridge over the Zambesi river at Victoria Falls, Sir F. Fox, developed miniature hybrids from the gladiolus primulinus, and sent them to Kew Gardens. Locally known as the maid in the mist, the species grew in the spray which emitted from Victoria Falls. Gladiolus grew abundantly and wild in the Holy Land and the waste lands along the Mediterranean coast of Africa. They were thought to be the “lilies of the field” that Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount. Considered to be the flower of the Gladiators, the gladiolus has also been called sword lily, because of the shape of the leaves. In Latin, gladiolus means “sword”.

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Birth Flower for the Month of September

Aster

Aster Astrological Symbol: Herb of Venus.
(Daisy) Elegance and Daintiness.
Talisman of Love.

Considered sacred to Roman and Greek deities, asters are ancient wildflowers of the daisy family. Two old myths told of the origin of asters. One claimed that the field bloomed with asters when Virgo scattered stardust on the earth. The other claimed that the Goddess Asterea began to cry when she looked down upon the earth and saw no stars. The asters bloomed where her tears fell. Known as Eye of Christ in France and Starwort in England and Germany, asters were thought to carry magical powers. Aster leaves were burned to keep away evil spirits and drive away serpents in ancient Greece. The bite from a mad dog was thought to cured by an ointment made from asters. Virgil wrote that the flavor of honey would be improved if asters were boiled in wine and placed near a beehive. Roman mythological legend holds that one of the dryads presiding over the forest, meadows and pastures, the nymph Belides, was responsible for the origin of the daisy. While dancing on the turf at the edge of the forest with the other nymphs, Belides attracted the admiration of the deity who presided over the orchards whose name was Vertumnus. She transformed herself into the flower bellis, it’s botanical name, to escape the pursuit of Vertumnus. The bellis flower is derived from the Anglo-Saxon daeges eage — day’s eye, from the habit of this flower to close its petals at night and on dark rainy days.

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Birth Flower for the Month of October

Calendula

Pensiveness and Winning Grace.
(Marigold) “You are My Divinity.”

Valued because of their extensive medicinal and culinary value, Calendula is a member of the marigold family. According to Gerard, in his herbal, a concoction made from Calendula flowers and sugar , taken in the morning, would keep one from trembling. A wine, made from an ancient receipt using an infusion of Calendula blossoms in wine, was thought to “soothe a cold stomach.” Calendula, made into a salve, was used to cure skin irritations, jaundice, sore eyes, and toothaches, and the flowers were used to treat ulcers, measles and varicose veins. When mixed with vinegar, the Romans used Calendula for seasoning meat and in salads and preserves. Eating Calendula was thought to make one see fairies, be easily induced to sleep, or to feel more amorous. Early Christians called the Calendula “Mary’s Gold,” and placed them by the statues of the virgin Mary. Considered the most sacred herb of ancient India, Holy men were said to have strung the blossoms into garlands and placed them around the necks of the gods. Because the flower heads follow the paths of the sun, the Calendula is sometimes called summer’s bride or husbandman’s dial. “The marigold goes to bed with sun and with him rises weeping,” alluding to the fact that the flowers close at night trapping dew inside. The Latin word calendae, which is the genus name, means “throughout the months.”

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Birth Flower for the Month of November

Chrysanthemum

Cheerfulness and Optimism.
Long Life and Happiness.

In 500 BC, Confucius wrote the Chrysanthemums are very ancient plants. T’ao Ming- Yang, the ancient Chinese botanist, developed many new strains of the Chrysanthemum. People came from afar to view T’ao Ming-Yang’s flowers because they were so beautiful. T’ao Ming-Yang’s village soon became known as the City of Chrysanthemums. In the not too distant past, Chrysanthemums were the favorites of the Nobility in China, and common people were not allowed to grow them. A Japanese legend relates the story of the birth of the Empire of Japan. Twelve young maidens and twelve young men set out from China to find the “herb of youth,” which they believed kept people eternally young. In order to trade for this herb, they carried with them baskets of chrysanthemums. When their ship wrecked near an uninhabited island, they swam ashore and planted the chrysanthemums. It was the first introduction of chrysanthemums to Japan, and indeed, the imperial coat of arms of Japan shows a golden chrysanthemum with sixteen petals.

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Birth Flower for the Month of December

Narcissus

Egotism and Conceit.
Symbol of Good Fortune.

Narcissus bulbs have been used medicinally for centuries, even though they are poisonous. Roman soldiers were said to carry them in their first-aid containers. European peasants applied Narcissus juice, mixed with honey, to cuts and swollen joints. A doctor named Galen, who was surgeon at the school of Gladiators in Rome, used the juice from narcissus bulbs as his favorite salve to “glue wounds, cuts and gashes together.” In subtle reference to the poisonous properties of the plant, the word narcissus originated from the Greek word “narkeo,” meaning “to be stupefied.” Lucorcine, which is contained within the bulbs, numbs the nervous system and paralyzes the heart. Greek mythology relates the origin of the narcissus. Echo, a mountain nymph, fell deeply in love with Narcissus, who was beautiful young man. Narcissus vainly cared for nothing but own beauty, spending all his time viewing his reflection in a pool of water. Narcissus spurned Echo’s love until she finally center nothing but her voice as she faded away. Echo’s voice ran off into the mountains to mock every other voice it heard. The gods, angry with Narcissus’s vanity, changed him into a flower whose fate was to stand by a pool of water nodding at his own image for time eternal. Mohammed is known to have said, “Let him who hath two loaves sell one, and buy the flower of narcissus: for bread is but food for the body, whereas, narcissus is food for the soul.”

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