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Flower Motifs

Picked the rose one early morn
Pricked my finger on a thorn
They'd grown so close, their winding wove
The Briar and the Rose.
— "The Briar and the Rose", Tom Waits

Flowers are one of the most popular motifs in literature and television alike. Whether given as a gift, or mentioned as a character's favorite plant, they're probably worth taking note of; they may well be saying something about the story's theme or someone's personality.

In the West, the popularity of flowers as motifs is probably rooted (no pun intended) in floriography — a Victorian practice where particular types of flowers meant different things. A woman rejecting a suitor might send him yellow roses (which mean "friendship"); a man leaving for overseas might give his girlfriend forget-me-nots (which mean pretty much what you think they do). Most people remember that red roses mean "I love you," but floriography itself has been largely forgotten. It occasionally turns up in literature, but since it takes time to explain the meanings of flowers, requiring someone to be Mr. Exposition if the flower is obscure, it's largely omitted from television and film. Additionally, gardening as a hobby has declined in modern times: many see the garden not as a place for flowers, but as an additional "room", more likely to feature a swimming pool or a swing set than a flower bed.

As a result, flower symbolism is used more generally, with "flowers" as a whole rather than specific species.

The system of hanakotoba is the Japanese system of flower symbolism — and it makes the occasional appearance in anime, especially in the form of Cherry Blossoms, white lilies, and sunflowers. More generally, shoujo manga and anime (and related genres) will have the background break out in unexplained flowers to emphasize a character's beauty, goodness, or emotional state.

Flowers usually serve the theme of romance and relationships; a bouquet is one of the standard romantic gifts, after all. However, often this changes when the symbolism is related specifically to a character. While animals are usually around to enforce the themes of kindness/cruelty, flowers represent care/neglect. A character who lets their dog starve is cruel, while a character whose garden is full of dead plants is probably just disinterested, forgetful or careless.

A character's garden will also give the audience an impression of their personality, usually in conjunction with the state of their house or personal appearance. A garden that is extremely well kept, but with little or no flowers in it, suggests an orderly but clinical personality; a garden overgrown with weeds might suggest a cynic who doesn't see the beauty in life any more, while a disorganized but thriving garden full of flowers probably belongs to a cheerful and badly-organized owner.

Can be expressed in Floral Theme Naming.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, the characters couldn't go anywhere without coming across a rose. The rings that signified the duelists sported a rose crest, Ohtori's gate had a huge rose design on top of it, each duelist had a rose of their signature color as a target when they fought, and a group of antagonists were called the Black Rose duelists, to name but a few. In the movie, they up the ante, and the famous "dance in the rose garden" shows an Ohtori drowning in roses. Just to drive the point home, the Meaningful Names backed up the imagery: "Utena" and "Anthy" mean "calyx" and "flower," respectively.
    • The color of the duelists' signature rose generally links back to their hair color (with the exception of Utena's white rose). There may or may not be further symbolism behind the color choice: Red rose (Touga)= passion/lust; Orange rose (Juri) = desire (as in desire for Shiori to reciprocate her feelings), Yellow rose (Nanami)= jealousy which she exhibits towards anyone who would take Touga away from her; White rose (Utena) = innocence/purity. Saionji's green rose is more difficult; since it doesn't exist in reality, there's no meaning assigned to it...but green is traditionally the color of envy. Strangely, although "true" blue and black roses don't exist, they do have popular meanings: Black rose (black rose duelists) = death, blue rose (Miki) = impossible dreams/magic...which makes more sense in the manga, where Miki's dream is to remain "pure forever," which Anthy flatly states is an impossible dream, an illusion.
      • Believe it or not, green roses mean "I am from Mars" in floriography. This is probably not the meaning intended here. They do exist, as a mutant form that has extra sepals instead of petals.
  • In Kanon, by Chiho Saito (the original author of Utena), gratuitious roses are included during at least one violin performance by the heroine.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura had a field day with this. Looking at the characters' flower names, their favorite flowers, and the flowers that show up around them give big clues to their characters. For example, Sonomi's favorite flower is nadeshiko; she adored Sakura's mother, whose name was Nadeshiko.
  • The first chapter of the Tokyo Mew Mew manga introduces most of the characters with specific flower backgrounds that give clues to their personalities.
  • Bleach:
    • Each of the Gotei 13 divisions has a flower insignia assigned to them which can also been seen on the vice-captain badges. The flower will symbolise aspects of the division's character and even the captains will have personality traits that tie into the divisional flower and symbolism.
      • Squad 1: The chrysanthemum, which represents Truth/Righteousness. This division is the role-model division and sets the standard for the rest of the Gotei 13.
      • Squad 2: The pasque, which symbolises 'Seek Nothing'. This is the division that polices Soul Society and acts as an advance scout unit for enemy territory. The truth of a situation is much more important to them than obfuscating matters with idealism.
      • Squad 3: The marigold, which symbolises despair. This division's philosophy is that War Is Hell.
      • Squad 4: The gentian, symbolising 'Those Who Grieve are Loved'. This division is trained to fight but most of its duties revolve around medical support.
      • Squad 5: The Lily-of-the-Valley, this symbolises Pure Love, Sacrifice and Danger. Subverted since this is the division Aizen captained and Hinamori loved him unconditionally, placing her in the most danger of anyone by being his Number Two.
      • Squad 6: The camellia, which symbolises 'Pure Reason' and is the division of law-abiding Captain Kuchiki.
      • Squad 7: The iris, which symbolises courage, and which is led by a captain that teaches the philosophy of facing your enemies head-on if you have the strength to withstand direct assault.
      • Squad 8: The strelitzia, which symbolises 'Everything is Obtained'. Led by the Brilliant, but Lazy Captain Kyouraku who tends to wait for trouble to come to him rather than seeking it out.
      • Squad 9: The White Poppy, which symbolises 'oblivion'. This division takes a Martial Pacifist approach to fighting.
      • Squad 10: The narcissus, which symbolises occultism/egoism.
      • Squad 11: The yarrow, which symbolises combat. This division is the strongest direct combat division of the entire Gotei 13 and tends to take the front line in battle. It also has a reputation for producing the strongest fighters. Two of its members left to become vice-captains elsewhere (the 6th and 7th divisions) and the 11th division's current third and fifth seats (there is no fourth seat) are themselves vice-captain class.
      • Squad 12: The thistle = Vengeance, Austerity, Independence. This division is a loose cannon. The scientific division and their captain plays by his own rules.
      • Squad 13: The snowdrop, which symbolises Hope. This division is known for being led by the gentlest, most peaceful captain.
    • Individual zanpakutou can also have flower themes that tie into their owner's personality and abilities in some way. This applies to both shinigami and arrancar.
      • Byakuya's is cherry blossom themed, symbolism associated with aristocracy, samurai and the transience of life (Byakuya is an aristocrat, military captain and widower).
      • Hitsugaya's zanpakutou can produce Glory-of-the-Snow (Scilla forbesii) in keeping with his ice/snow powers and theme.
      • Yumichika's produces lilies, which are symbols of rejuvenation, death and beauty.
      • Rose's zanpakutou is themed on the Golden Sal tree which is said to be able to detect witches in legend. Rose himself hates having his zanpakutou's kidou abilities associated with magic in any form, but his shikai abilities are both music and flower themed.
      • Luppi is ivy-themed, and his resurrecion creates 8 vine tentacles that he can attack with.
      • Charlotte Cuuhlhorne's zanpakutou is rose-themed. As a Magical Girl parody, a Villainous Crossdresser, Camp Gay and Macho Camp all rolled into one, the rose theme of his clothing, zanpakutou and resureccion abilities act as a huge Shout-Out to the Barazoku magazine which began the association of the rose with homosexuality.
  • WeiŖ Kreuz dabbles with flower motifs and hanakotoba; the four Hitman with a Heart protagonists work as florists as a cover job and are each associated with a particular flower, and they also use hanakotoba as a code language, allowing for an Out-of-Character Alert plot twist in the Verbrechen ~ Strafe OVA. Aya's real name, Ran, means "orchid," an association played upon in both the "Ranjatai" short story and the Dramatic Precious Radio Drama, and both Kritiker's Aoba Center team and La Mort use Floral Theme Naming.
  • The episode titles of Blue Drop are scientific names of flowers, which appear at a key moment in the episode, as a visual gloss alluding to the episode's main theme.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, one of the few things that reveal Psychopathic Manchild Russia's (almost nonexistent) softer side is his love of sunflowers, which according to him make him feel happy and relaxed enough to "dream of living in a warm places surrounded by them".
    • Also, Russia's subordinate Latvia shows his Yandere potential by attacking his best friend, Sealand, with a Lily of the Valley. It's never mentioned again.
    • Lithuania has rye fields as one of his motifs. In fact, in the scene right before Russia tells him of his love for sunflowers, he was dreaming of a rye field where he and his friends used to play as children.
    • France is always represented with red roses in canon. Even to cover his privates.
      • Sometimes, fanart gives roses to England as well (roses are England's national flowers)
    • Hungary and Taiwan use flower-shaped hair jewels as head gear. Hungary's pink flower symbolizes Lake Balaton aka the Hungarian sea; Taiwan's is a plum flower, which is the national flower of her lands. Their gender flipped versions also have them: male!Hungary wears a flowr in his hair, while male!Taiwan puts on a plum-shaped pin on his jacket.
    • Japan's human first name, Kiku, literally means "chrysanthemum", a flower that has great significance and a connection with the Emperor in Japan. Naturally, a lot of fanart depicts him with chrysanthemums. Cherry Blossoms are also popular in them, especially since one anime episode actually introduced Japan in a flurry of them; Japanese fans have even adopted "Sakura" as a Fan Nickname for Japan's Gender Flipped counterpart.
      • In the infamous Another Color arts, female!Japan wears a red spider lily on her hair.
    • Netherlands and Turkey are sometimes associated with tulips; Netherlands gives Japan a bouquet of them in one webcomic strip, and Turkey is depicted with them in his newest official profile.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, every member of the host club has a different colored rose that represents them. They show up in both the Anime Theme Song and Ending Theme, as well as several other scenes. (This is particularly significant with Tamaki and Haruhi.)
  • Princess Tutu has a few examples. First of all, there's a rose in a vase in the dorm room he and Fakir share. It starts off as a bud, then slowly begins to bloom as Mytho gets more and more pieces of his heart returned to him. However, when his heart shard of love is poisoned with evil Raven's blood by Kraehe, the rose begins to wilt. Also, Princess Tutu's powers are connected to pink flowers and vines which is later to be revealed because Mytho's powers involve flowers, and her powers come from one of his heart shards. The flamboyant Femio also gives out roses, probably as a symbol of his over-the-top, false chivalry and "love".
  • White lilies are a common motif in Girls Love manga. "Lily" is the original Japanese meaning of "yuri". And white, the color of sorrow, probably foreshadows the characters' fate.
  • The red spider lily has associations with loss, abandonment and reincarnation, since they usually bloom near cemeteries around the autumnal equinox, they are described in Chinese and Japanese translations of the Lotus Sutra as ominous flowers that grow in Diyu, or HuŠngquŠn (Simplified Chinese: 黄泉; Traditional Chinese: 黃泉), and guide the dead into the next reincarnation. E.g. in Mnemosyne and Canaan, an image of a red spider lily against a black background represents biological weapons.
  • In Berserk, The morning after having sex with Charlotte Griffith leaves the princess the pendant she gave him before a major battle earlier and a piece of Lily of the Valley which represents returning happiness. Considering that this same guy was pretty much having a breakdown the night before I think that is a pretty good (and smooth) representation.
  • In One Piece, all the women of Amazon Lily have a flower name, including the island itself. From Boa Hancock, whose name comes from the Symphoricarpos Chenaultii Hancock and sweet, everyday girl Marguerite.
    • Admiral Akainu had a pink rose on his suit and a flower tattoo on his chest. It serves as an ironic contrast with his General Ripper attitude.
  • Maria-sama Ga Miteru has quite a few Flower Motifs, especially when it comes to roses.
  • The manga Stepping On Roses (Hadashi de Bara wo Fume) has a good deal of flower imagery. The protagonist's relationship with the male lead can be compared directly to a rose... while he is beautiful, Sumi can get hurt whenever she gets too close.
  • Flower motifs are used extensively in Maiden Rose
    • Roses: For Klaus, roses have traditionally been gardened by his family over the generations, and the men of the family feel a calling for a "flower", without which they are incomplete but which has not been fulfilled for generations due to a broken promise. For Taki, he is the current shinka or "flower of the Emperor", a hereditary role, thus the maiden rose also being represented in his family crest and that of his military division. The scent of flowers sometimes mysteriously accompanies Taki, and Klaus outrights states at some point that the reason he has given up everything in pursuit of Taki is because Taki is the flower of his family myth.
    • Wisteria: Wisteria and the counterpart of laburnum are figured central to the characters' meetings, starting with their first, and wisteria seem to have ceremonial significance for Taki.
    • Cherry Blossoms: These also appear from time to time, with no consistent meaning though, each depending on the situation (spring, transience, etc.).
  • Used occasionally in Ame Nochi Hare.
  • InuYasha: Kikyou is named after the chinese bellflower. Word of God states the association was a deliberate choice made when she realised that the chinese bellflower symbolised a love that could never be forgotten - in the manga, even death can't erase the love Inuyasha and Kikyou have for each other.
    • The anime's first ending uses red spider lilies liberally through the credits while focusing on Kagome. The red spider lily symbolises reincarnation and resurrection themes, and Kagome's soul is Kikyou's reincarnated soul.
  • SHUFFLE! Nearly every character, including the men, are named after flowers.
  • Honoo No Alpen Rose, as the title says. The Alpine Rose is both the flower and a song that is among the lead female's few memories of her past. The first page of the manga nicely explains the symbolism.
    "The Alpine rose is a red flower, also known as the Rose of the Highlands. Its flower can resist both snow and storms, and has soothed those who live in the mountains. However, it also means a warning, danger and greatness..."
  • Wedding Peach gives the Love Angels' flowers meanings, but other than Momokonote  they don't match well with either European or Japanese languages:
    • Angel Lily / Yuri note  "In the language of flowers the name of the pure lily is special. It means 'It will bloom and grant love'"
    • Angel Daisy / Hinagiku note  "The daisy is the emblem of the innocent heart. It will blow away the evil wind!"
    • Angel Salvia / Scarlet note  "In the language of flowers, Salvia means burning heart. Warrior of Heaven, Angel Salvia, is here!"
  • In Saiunkoku Monogatari, the symbolic gift of a flower from the Emperor (usually as a motif on a weapon or piece of jewelry, although Ryuuki sends actual fresh irises to Shuuei and Kouyuu since he's in a hurry, and later replaces them with more appropriate equivalents) is both a gesture of trust and an indication of what the Emperor respects from that particular subject's service; accepting such a gift is, in return, a gesture of loyalty to the Emperor who presented it.
  • Hana No Mizo Shiru translates to "Only the Flower Knows", so naturally this trope applies. Arikawa's birth flower is apparently the rose-gold pussy willow, which characterizes him as honest, open and free. Misaki's is the sweet pea, which represents a delicate/sensitive beauty. Both are accurate character descriptions, needless to say. Then there is imagery of/references to other flowers throughout the manga, since both characters deal with flowers in their agricultural work, and Misaki's treasured flower necklace.
  • In Oniisama e... and Roseof Versailles, there's plenty of roses motifs. To start.
  • Anpanman has the Flower Kingdom, an entire kingdom of mostly women and girls each with a specific flower that they are patterned after and they tend to. The queen is a rose, and a few other motifs include thistles, moth orchids, and lilies of the valley.
  • A Cruel God Reigns: Flowers and other foliage are used for a variety of purposes; When Jeremy dreams of his mother Sandra, she is usually in a field of flowers until Jeremy finds out she knew he was being beaten and raped by his stepfather. When Jeremy is being sexually abused, the scenes in which it happens often switch to Jeremy being ensnared in vines and trees, as well as the thorns and flowers growing out of him (usually his head). Later on in the series, Ian compares Jeremy's mental state to being trapped and lost in a forest, unable to reach wide fields and flower gardens.
  • Casshern Sins uses flowers throughout as a metaphor for the beauty and fragility of life.

    Comic Books 
  • Gambit and Rogue of the X-Men sometimes make use of flower symbolism. When they are reunited after Gambit's sojourn in Antarctica Gambit presents Rogue with a white rose, claiming it represents "new beginnings." Rogue is contemptuous though, pointing out that "white lilies mean death. Does that go for roses too?" In actual fact, Gambit is probably correct - white roses traditionally mean innocence/purity.
    • And then there's the fact that Gambit's ex-wife is called "Belladonna"...

    Film 
  • American Beauty is, in fact, a variety of rose.
  • In The Brown Bunny, all of the women that Vincent Gallo's character meets in the film have the names of flowers.
  • In Imagine Me And You, one of the main characters is a florist who spends quite a bit of time explaining the symbolism of various flowers: most notably her Love Interest's favorite - the lily, which she translates as "I dare you to love me."
    • Relating the history of the botanical name of the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia), which was named after Queen Charlotte (of Mecklenburg-Strelitz), who had a very close, long and loving relationship with her husband, George III, indicates how much she prizes lasting relationships and fidelity, which was the reason for her misgivings about coming between Rachel and Hector, which is why she eventually decides to leave London.
  • White lilies, a symbol of death and mourning, appear consistently throughout White Noise.
  • In Kate and Leopold the Duke of Albany teaches Kate's brother how to send a message to the woman he's interested in.
    Leopold: No, no, this will not do.
    Charlie: Wha... Why? What is wrong with this one?
    Leopold: The orange lily implies extreme hatred. The begonia and lavender danger and suspicion, respectively. Every flower has a meaning, Charles. Might I suggest the amaryllis, which declares the recipient a most splendid beauty. Or the cabbage rose.
  • This Motif is used several times in Don Juan DeMarco. When psychiatrist Dr. Mickler is talking the title character out of a suicide attempt, he introduces himself as "Don Octavio de Florez." Coming to work after a night of romancing his wife Marilyn, Dr. Mickler cheerfully plucks tulips from the front of the mental institution and hands them out to the staff. When Mickler first proposes they go to "the Island of Eros", rather than their planned trip to the (antique) Pyramids, Marilyn is reluctant to take such a step: "I like it here, I like my garden." But the Island proves to have a far greater abundance of blooms: "It was like the Garden (of Eden) before the fall." A probable clue to the symbolism is this VO reverie near the movie's beginning:
    DON JUAN DEMARCO: "Every true lover knows that the moment of greatest satisfaction comes when ecstasy is long over. And he beholds before him the flower which has blossomed beneath his touch."
  • In the hysterical Mona Freeman film Darling, How Could You!, a teenage girl attends a melodramatic play in which the villain tries to charm the virtuous heroine with dark red roses. When her mother receives same — plus an invitation to dinner — from a family friend, the girl assumes he's after her mom.
  • The "frigging flowers" scene in the film Pink Floyd The Wall is disturbingly symbolic of the protagonist Pink's conflicts with his wife.
  • Played with in Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, where the significance of the FBI "blue rose cases" is never explained. The popular interpretation among fans is that it refers to cases involving the supernatural, though.
    • Blue roses are sometimes used as a symbol of "the impossible/the unobtainable" (because they don't exist naturally and are the result of dyeing or genetic tinkering.)

    Literature 
  • Justified in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series - one of the main characters is a plant mage. He even named himself after a flower. Briar Moss is a prickly character who hides his affection for his "sisters" behind barbed words. His knowledge of plants is useful when flowers hint at more than his magic though: when talking to the Empress of Namorn, she explains that her favorite plants include orchids - to which Briar admits he thinks of them as "parasites." The empress's liking for a plant that lives by killing others is a big clue to her character.
  • Many and recurring throughout the Aunt Dimity series, partially justified by the setting and ties to England generally and the Cotswolds specifically. Many of the residents of Finch are devoted amateur gardeners, and gardening and flowers are frequent plot points. A partial list:
    • Dimity's favourite flowers are white lilacs, which according to some sources stand for youthful innocence and memories. Some of them grow at her cottage, and bouquets of them (sans cards) appear at weddings, funerals, and other special occasions both before and after her death. The twins' first nanny Francesca is welcomed by the scent of white lilacs in the cottage.
    • The cottage is also covered in ivy (particularly outside the study where Lori keeps the glue journal), which is variously described in the sources as referring to friendship, matrimonial bonds, and dependence.
    • Early in Aunt Dimity and the Duke, Emma Porter is an American amateur gardener who is taking a tour of English gardens after a decade-plus relationship ends. She meets the Pym sisters at a garden maze, and has a lengthy conversation with them on the subject, not realizing that it was a job interview of sorts. She takes their card and their suggestion to visit the gardens at Penford Hall, and is soon tasked with restoring a walled garden on the estate. She also finds her personal life sorted out as well.
    • Lori's favourite flowers are blue irises. She is astonished to find a vase of them on a coffee table in the Willises' Boston parlour (in a cold and slushy early April) the day after she first met the attorneys. Irises are associated with the Greek messenger goddess of the same name, and blue irises specifically stand for faith and hope.
    • The unkempt vicarage garden is a problem in Aunt Dimity Digs In, not to mention cover for a burglar. Emma Harris takes the place in hand, with an ebullient eight-year-old Rainey Dawson to assist her. The cleanup provides a clue to one of the minor mysteries of the book.
    • Later on in the same book, Rainey has an arrangement of orange lilies to surround her stuffed tiger for a local contest until she causes a mishap that knocks over the vase. Not only do the orange flowers go well with the tiger, the flowers can mean passion.
    • The weeping willows around the village war memorial (symbolizing mourning) are replaced with holly (meaning foresight and/or domestic happiness).
    • Miranda Morrow has a garden chaotically filled with unusual plants that other gardeners might term weeds (including references to marijuana, though nothing is proven). Miranda is an independent-minded sort (the village's only known practising Wiccan) who prepares medicinal poultices, teas and infusions.
    • The Pym sisters are associated with lavender (meaning variously serenity, grace, calmness, devotion or distrust); the scent of lavender water permeates their cottage.
    • When we finally meet Bree Pym in Aunt Dimity Down Under, she's wearing a greenstone pendant in the shape of a koru (an opening fern frond), and when she finally rises from her seat to leave the park with Lori, she "unfolded like an opening fern frond". Bree also has several flower tattoos:
    • Willis Sr. eventually retires and moves to an old estate near Finch. He cultivates orchids in his greenhouse, just as he had in the hothouse of his Boston home. Orchids are symbolic of refined beauty, and Willis sr. is nothing if not refined.
    • A botanical artist of great renown features in Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch. A subplot turns on a particular painting of hers (a spring crocus symbolizing youthful gladness) and the language of flowers, and the exposition of its meaning fills in some of Willis Sr.'s backstory.
  • Little Women: While Laurie and Amy are taking a walk through a rose garden, Laurie gets pricked by a red rose he tried to pick while thinking of Jo, whom he last saw when she turned down his marriage proposal. Amy then gives him a thorn-free white rose. Laurie instantly thinks of the color symbolism - red roses are for romance, white roses are for funerals, and he wonders if this is either a sign about his changing feelings for the two sisters or an omen of death. He chides himself for being so superstitious and laughs it off, but since eventually he and Amy fall in love and Beth dies, it doesn't sound so funny.
  • Parodied in the Discworld book Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, where after discussing how a man was once sued for having an obscene garden, Nanny Ogg gives a list of "pretty flowers and their meanings". The list itself is not present, however, because Nanny Ogg being who she is, the publisher inserts a note declaring they've yanked the list for being overly suggestive. (Though considering ALL flowers are plant reproductive organs, Nanny may have had a point...)
    • Note that the above is actually Truth in Television: the founder of the Hellfire Club, Sir Francis Dashwood, landscaped his garden in such a way that, from the church on the hill, it would look like a naked woman.
      • That'd be a literal obscene garden, whereas the one Nanny cites merely translated as obscene (or so the complaining party claimed) when interpreted via floriography.
  • A huge number of characters in the Harry Potter series have the name of a flower in their names. Including his mother, Lily Evans, named after the flower of death and mourning, and her sister Petunia. Petunias are popular garden flowers which nevertheless fall into the same family as deadly nightshade. They represent resentment and anger, as well as (somewhat ironically given her attitude to her sister and nephew) demonic powers.
    • Hogwarts' school nurse, Poppy Pomfrey. Poppies are a popular sign of remembrance in Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, as well as the source for the opioid family of painkillers, including codeine, morphine and derivatives thereof. "Pomfrey" is one letter removed from "comfrey," another ancient medicinal plant (the root contains allantoin, a compound that accelerates healing of skin wounds).
    • "Oh God Not Again", the Peggy Sue fanfic, notes that Snape's first question of Harry, concerning asphodel and wormwood, could be decoded as "I deeply regret Lilly's death" .
  • In Kushiel's Legacy, each of the houses/themes of the Night Court are inspired by flowers.
    • Additionally, Phedre's marque, a full-length back tattoo, is of a briar rose, symbolizing her relationship with pain.
  • In Melanie Rawn's Ruins of Ambrai, the rebels send secret messages to each other using flowers.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories, the black lotus and the gray lotus are often used in dark magic.
  • Almost all versions and retellings of "Beauty and the Beast" focus on roses, which are not only the flowers Beauty asks her father for that trigger his fateful meeting with the Beast but also a famous symbol of love. Two retellings that add extra layers of symbolism and meaning to this flower motif are Beastly, which emphasizes that white roses mean true love and has the Beast plant a flower called "Little Linda" in his greenhouse in honor of the Beauty's arrival, and Rose Daughter, which goes all-out on the rose motif by decorating every single thing in the Beast's castle with it and having Beauty's major motivation at the castle be reviving the Beast's near-dead rose garden.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the winter rose is a symbol of doomed and forbidden love for the Starks.
  • Purple Hibiscus is an experimental strain of the (normally red) plant, which stands for change, hope and freedom; everything the main characters are struggling for.
  • A Victoriana-obsessed decker from the first Shadowrun anthology named his cat Tansy, then set her beside his deck each time he began a hacking mission, because the wild tansy is a declaration of war in floriography.
  • In Poul Anderson's "The Pirate", Trevelyn notes that the aliens who built the ruins loved floral motifs above all other forms of decoration.
  • Used negatively (until the end) in the picture book Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum is indeed named after a flower but she does not like her name because her classmates make fun of her for it ("I'm named after my grandmother! You're named after a flower!"). As it turns out, the music teacher, who her class deeply admires, is also named after a flower; this is what gets them to stop.
  • In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Rosemary and Rue, Luna had given Connor a basket filled with love-lies-ableeding and love-in-idleness; since he's her son-in-law, he's sure it's a message.
  • Flowers are all over the place in The Hunger Games trilogy. There's characters' names, Rue's death, President Snow and roses, dandelions...
  • V. C. Andrews' Dollenganger Saga features titles related to flowers and plants: Flowers in the Attic, Petals On The Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds Of Yesterday, and Garden Of Shadows. The flowers are a loose theme in the series as well: in the first book, the children make paper flowers to replace the real ones they're not allowed to see, and flowers (delicate, complicated roots, dark earth, and so on) are a motif throughout the rest of the books.

    Live Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: The sigil of House Tyrell is a golden rose on a green field. Everyone in the family wears clothing with a floral pattern, and this extends even to armour and accessories (like belts and brooches).
  • Appears in Lois and Clark - Clark gives Lois yellow roses, telling her "yellow is for friendship" (This after a villain had been using more romantic gifts as Trojanhorses for his crimes, and to make her miserable). Also, a running gag involves Lois' inability to keep the plant on her desk alive; and during season 1, we saw Lex Luthor meticulously trimming a bonsai tree.
  • In The Addams Family, Morticia sometimes prepares bouquets of roses minus the flowers, leaving only a display of thorny stems. (Not botanical but worth mentioning: Morticia has a sister named Ophelia. This is probably a Meaningful Name; see theatre, below.)
  • Many British murder mysteries make reference to flowers - Belladonna (deadly nightshade) is a favorite as a poison. Rosemary And Thyme takes this to the next level though. Not only are the protagonists named after herbs, but the contents of their garden often provide a clue to the murder...or at least serve as inspiration for the aesop at the end.
  • Guinevere from Merlin is closely associated with flowers, to the point where cast members make gags that Gwen is usually seen "arranging flowers". She takes bouquets to people, she wears them in her hair, and on one occasion, Arthur brings her a red rose.
    • Perhaps mixed with color motives. She wears white flowers (for innocence) inside her hair when she decides to take care of it, and becomes an innocent victim later on the same episode. The flowers she carries to Morgana are purple, perhaps also symbolizing Morgana's royal origins (coincidentally, she ends up wearing purple much more often after discovering that she is a princess).

    Music 
  • The folk song "The Seeds of Love" contains a series of flower motifs:
    My gardener was standing by,
    I asked him to choose for me,
    He chose me the violet, the lily and the pink,
    And it's them I refused all three.
    • The violet symbolises modesty, the lily chastity, the pink (pink rockrose) courtesy. The protagonist eventually chooses a red rose (romantic love), but unfortunately "gains the willow tree" (sorrow or death) instead.
  • Many Child Ballads, but especially "Scarborough Fair", due to its modern popularity. The refrain in "Scarborough Fair" (a.k.a. "The Elfin Knight") seems to represent a love spell:
    • Parsley: Provokes lust. Associated with witchcraft and fertility.
    • Sage: Wisdom, longevity.
    • Rosemary: Fidelity, memories.
    • Thyme: Used in folk herbalism to discern the identity of your true love; also a popular component in The Lady's Favour.
  • The eponymous gardens in the Irish song "Down By The Sally Gardens" are willow gardens (genus Salix), associated with sorrow.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Nobilis: in the setting of the game, flowers are something like the programming language Heaven used to write the universe. Using flowers - according to their floriographical meaning - in ritualistic ways allow the characters (both the Nobles and the Excrucians) to mess directly with the fundamental forces of reality. Furthermore, Nobles incorporate flowers related to their Domain in their heraldry to signify which concept their personify. Awareness of the language of flowers is crucial to being a Noble (and a player of the game).
  • In Magic: The Gathering, cards with "lotus" in their names produce mana of any color, going back to the overpowered "black lotus" from the first edition.
  • Hanafuda are a type of Japanese/Korean playing cards that use pictures of flowers instead of numbers. Each flower represents a different month of the year. They were popularized by Nintendo - yes, that Nintendo - in the late 1800's.
  • The Four Gentlemen (orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum, plum) in Chinese art. Example: four of the eight flower tiles in Mahjong feature them.

    Theater 
  • In The Glass Menagerie, the phrase "blue roses" becomes an important motif. Jim calls Laura "blue roses" because he mispronounces pleurosis, the name of her illness. A blue rose is a pretty and fascinating idea that can't exist in reality. So is Laura.
    • Also, Amanda spends a good monologue raving about the summer when she went mad for jonquils, symbolizing the high days of her youth, which she's constantly trying to relive. Jonquil is a name found in the American Southeast for the narcissus.
  • The image of the briar and the rose is all over Tom Waits' rock opera The Black Rider. "The Briar and the Rose", quoted at the top of this page symbolizes Wilhelm's realization that he can't marry Kšthchen (the rose) without help from Pegleg (the briar). Then, in one of Pegleg's many Villain Songs, "Flash Pan Hunter", he gloats over his impending victory with the line "The briar is strangling the rose back down." And when Kšthchen dies, what's the song? "The Last Rose of Summer Is Gone".
  • Ophelia gives the court of Denmark a botany lesson in Hamlet IV.v.
    Ophelia: There's rosemary: that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies: that's for thoughts."
  • In Patience, though Bunthorne confesses in his soliloquy that a "languid love for lilies does not blight me," he is careful to keep his public image, like Oscar Wilde's, associated with the flower.

    Video Games 
  • In Grim Fandango, the whole idea of flowers is subverted. The plot takes place in the Land of the Dead and one of the only ways to make someone Deader than Dead is by using a special chemical that makes flowers grow on their bones. The game also features a character who manufactures these weapons, and likens himself to a florist rather than a weapons manufacturer, believing plants to be a symbol of life rather than death.
    • It seems that those who were florists in life are the only ones who can produce "sproutella" in the Land of the Dead. In fact, it's commented by at least one of the characters that it must be very psychologically painful to be a florist in the Land of the Dead, where the rather innocent and beautiful hobby that you had devoted yourself to in life becomes a horrifying weapon of beyond-murder. Many end up with their minds breaking from this knowledge.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories takes place in Castle Oblivion, a huge marble castle with a prominent flower motif in its decor. This has a double meaning, as one of the underlying themes of the series is love and devotion, but control over flowers also happens to be the power of the lord of the Castle and resident Big Bad, Marluxia.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4 Naomi grows blue roses, a color created by genetic engineering. Symbolizing both the genetically engineered Solid Snake and Naomi's role in creating FOXDIE, Vamp, and artificially extending her own life.
  • In Battle Realms, this manifests as an actual faction in the game. Named the Lotus Clan, it is a faction that specializes more on magic than any of the other 3. Every unit that the Lotus has is racked with some sort of corruption until they transform into a Warlock, when they expunged all this corruption violently away. This symbolizes the flower's tendency to bloom in the mud, and how it seems so clean despite living in such a filthy place.
  • Titular character of Bayonetta is tied to a rose. When she received heavy blow from enemies rose quickly shows up, when she dies rose petals fall all over the screen. Oh and her mother's name was Rose. Jeanne has similar visual effects but her flower is lily.
  • .hack: Do you know what honeysuckles symbolize? Devoted affection.
  • In Mother 3, Lucas associates sunflowers to his mother, causing the flowers to appear many times in the game.
    • This even goes as far for Lucas to meet the ghost of his mother in a field of sunflowers.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Cyan is something of a floral hobbyist, as demonstrated by the dozens of handcrafted silk flower arrangements in his room in the World of Ruin. Makes sense, given that ikebana (the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement) was popularly promulgated among samurai.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith's association with flowers in general (lilies in particular) represents her connection to the earth, her pure heart and her ability to bring life even to dead lands where nothing should grow.
  • Beatrix from Final Fantasy IX is associated with roses throughout the game (even her leitmotif is called "Rose of May"), probably in association with her status as a Lady of War.
  • In Final Fantasy X, Yuna, as well as as being the Okinawan word for 'night' (contrasting Tidus' 'sun'), is also the Japanese name for the sea hibiscus, and hibiscus patterns are seen on her skirt, obi, and necklace. Her unique dressphere in X-2, Floral Fallal, also references this.
  • In the Visual Novel Narcissu, the eponymous Narcissus (or daffodil) flower and its underlying myth serve as a tragic metaphor for the heroine, a terminally ill young woman.
  • Don Flamenco of Punch-Out!!, being a Spanish stereotype that walks like a man, carries a rose to the ring. In his Title Defense rematch, however, he chooses to Paint It Black and switches it out for a black rose. A black rose means "revenge". The game even lampshades it, as he asks you (in Spanish) between rounds, "Do you know what a black rose means?"
  • Concept art of the characters in Unlimited Saga depict them standing next to reliefs of various species of flowers, which ostensibly is some form of clue to their basic personality.
  • The symbol of Allebahst in Ace Attorney Investigations is the flower, a symbol of the country's natural beauty. And a flower is also on the hilt of the knife used to murder Manny Coachen. Alba smuggles it into the Theatrum Neutralis by hiding it in a bouquet of flowers.
  • The Hitman series and its protagonist, 47, have a stylized lily as their symbol.
  • Rule of Rose. Three guesses what flower makes the motif. Though perhaps surprisingly, the motif is used quite sparingly, and it's a quite shock when it turns up in the big twist of the final chapter.
  • Ib uses roses as Life Meters and they begin wilting when you take damage. Each main character has a different rose color: Ib's rose is red which represents courage and passion, Garry's rose is blue which represents mystery, and Mary's rose is yellow which represents friendship and jealousy.
  • Princess Daisy from the Super Mario Bros. franchise. Her dresses and jewelry are adorned with floral trim, and in the sports games where she's a playable character, her shots often leave behind a trail of flowers.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • The "Instruction Manual for Life" animation, which is a metaphor for changing religion by YouTuber TheraminTrees, features flowered wallpaper in the main boy's home. The wallpaper starts off printed with swirls and flower bulbs. However, when the boy realises how his bullying parents are scared of how he isn't conforming, the wallpaper behind him blooms into flowers, since the realisation brings him strength and freedom. The wallpaper behind his parents never blooms, because they remain too close-minded.
  • Ruby Rose in RWBY is a passionate, idealistic girl who dresses largely in red.
    • The weapon Myrtenaster (the German name for myrtle) is wielded by Weiss Schnee. Fittingly, the myrtle flower is often white.

    Western Animation 
  • A borderline example: The hero of Ugly Americans is named Mark Lilly (a symbol of both innocence and death). He is an innocent who endangers his life daily by dealing with strange, often bloodthirsty creatures. He actually did die in the second episode, but obviously, he got better.

    Real Life 
  • The Wars of the Roses.
  • Tulipomania, famous as one of the world's first financial speculation roller-coasters (which ended in the inevitable crash). To this day, Holland is still associated with tulips.
  • Besides the Four Gentlemen mentioned above, Chinese art also has the Three Friends of Winter.


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Flowers for Algernon SyndromeFlower Garden IndexFlower Pot Drop
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