I've never heard of giving flowers to people instead of slapping their faces, but according to this, I guess a person or two does just that. Listed below are the meanings of several flowers, and they are not at all pleasant.

Bluebell - Humility
Striped Carnation - "No"
Yellow Carnation- "You have disappointed me," rejection
Cyclamen - "Good-bye"
Yellow Hyacinth- Jealousy
Hydrangea - Frigidity, heartlessness
Orange Lily - Hatred
Marigold - Cruelty, grief, jealousy
Petunia - Resentment, anger
Evening Primrose - Inconstancy
White Rose - reverence & humility

And to think orange day lilies are my favorite flowers! What does that make me? On a lighter note, I did find some weird meanings of two flowers . Why wouldn't you just walk up to someone and say what you mean instead of having flowers sent? It would be so much easier.

Spider Flower - "Elope with me"
Viscaria - "Will you dance with me?"

I didn't make this up off the top of my head. The info was found at http://www.metroparkflorist.com, along with the meaning of every other flower I have ever heard of. I just thought flowers were supposed to be pretty, yo. But as usual, I just managed to prove myself wrong and tell everyone about it at the same time.

Originally started in Constantinople in the 1600s, it was brought to England in 1716 by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. From there, it moved to France where the book Le Langage des Fleurs was published by Mme. Charlotte de la Tour. The English translation of this book was toned down for the Victorian period.

When a woman received a flower, she had the opportunity to accept or reject the sentiment expressed when she wore the flowers on her afternoon calls. The simplest form, with the blossom facing upwards, meant that the feelings where accepted. With the blossom facing down, it meant that the woman did not return the feelings expressed. It is also possible to place the flowers sent in a bouquet with other flowers to send a return message. It is also customary for brides to choose their bouquets to send a message with the ideas of the marriage.

In Victorian times, this allowed a couple to stroll in the garden and chat about flowers on the surface, while the entire undercurrent of the conversation is full of sexual connotations and implications.

Roses are of particular interest. A rose with no thorns but leaves means "I fear no longer; I hope." If it is striped of leaves and thorns it means "There is nothing to hope or fear." A full rose with two buds means secrecy. A single rose is simplicity, while two joined roses represent engagement. A dozen roses is the ultimate declaration of love.

Colors also have meanings. In most cases, the color yellow refers to love lost, jealousy or disdain. The color red refers to love, and white to purity. This is not always the case, but its generally correct.

Through the use of combinations, more complex messages can be sent.

  • Moss Rosebud (confession of love) + myrtle (love) = a confession of love (yea, rather bland)
  • Mignonette (qualities > charms) and colored daisy (beauty) = your qualities surpass your charms of beauty
  • Yellow rose (jealousy) + broken straw (a broken agreement) + Ivy (commitment) = your jealousy has broken our friendship
  • Scarlet geranium (consolation) + passion flower (faith) + purple hyacinth (sorrow) + arbor vitae (unchanging friendship) = I trust you will find consolation, through faith, in your sorrow; be assured of my unchanging friendship (ie: let's just be friends)
  • Columbine (folly) + day lily (coquetry) + witch hazel (spell) + colored daisy (beauty) = Your folly and coquetry have broken the spell of your beauty
  • Golden-rod (be cautious) + monks-head (danger) + sweat pea (departing) + forget-me-not (don't forget me) = Be cautious; danger is near; I will depart soon; don't forget me.

Note: For some of these, there are multiple interpretations that may appear contradictory. This list is compiled from several sources, but most notably from the alt.romance FAQ

In the Victorian era small groupings of flowers were gathered into a cluster called a tussy mussy (alternate spelling - tussie mussie). The language of flowers might be used to imbue meaning if the tussy mussy were to be given as a gift. Another Victorian use for the tussy mussy was to bury the nose and hence to filter out noxious odors.

Victorian tussie mussies were carried in the hand or worn about the neck on a cord.

Victorians took their tussie mussies seriously. Households often had dictionaries of the meaning of the various flowers. One would not dare just send a bouquet without first doing their research!

Today, the language of flowers is a quaint and antiquated concept. Lists often conflict on the meaning of any given flower.

Here are some flowers with dark historical meanings. They are suitable for any enemy's wedding or funeral and are lovely additions to an anonymous bouquet to let them know someone's been thinking a whole lot about them:

asphodel: my regrets follow you to the grave
basil: hatred
begonia: I have dark thoughts about you
bilberry: treachery
cistus gum: you will die tomorrow
coltsfoot: justice will be done
crowsbill: envy
crowfoot: ingratitude
dahlia: instability
dark geranium: you are unjust
dogsbane: deceit and lies
enchanter's nightshade: witchcraft and sorcery
fig: strife
hellebore: calumny
hortensia: you are cold
Judas tree: disbelief and betrayal
lobelia: malevolence
lotus flower: tainted love
mandrake: horror
meadow saffron: your best days are gone
oleander: beware
rhododendron: danger
saffron: be wary of success
scarlet auricula: greed
St. John's wort: animosity and superstition
tamarisk: crime
trefoil: revenge
wild tansy: we are at war
white catchfly: betrayal


Sources: Murder Ink edited by Dilys Winn and The Language of Flowers by Margaret Pickston

The Language of Flowers is a poem written by Leigh Hunt in 1857. Hunt was many things: poet, political writer and essayist, he played host to some of the greatest minds of his age, even when the world in general didn't appreciate them, including both John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Hunt, unlike many of his contemporary poets, had more fame and readership in his lifetime than after it. His verse is charming, often silly, and somewhat derivative, so naturally he pales when compared with the other poets he associated with.

There is a casual ease to Hunt's poetry that Keats and Shelley do not have, and this poem, while it doesn't bring about great revelations, or force me to think differently about things, cannot fail to make me smile.

The Language of Flowers

Whate delight, in some sweet spot
Combining love with garden plot,
At once to cultivate one's flowers
And one's epistolary powers!
Growing one's own choice words and fancies
In orange tubs, and beds of pansies;
One's sighs and passionate declarations
In odorous rhetoric of carnations;
Seeing how far one's stocks will reach;
Taking due care one's flowers of speech
To guard from blight as well as bathos,
And watering, every day, one's pathos!

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