Meaning of Flowers in Chinese Culture（12 Types）
Flowers are common all over the world, with some flowers more prone in certain parts of the world than others. They each have a unique appeal depending on the type of flower. In the same way, depending on region, different flowers could have different meanings and uses.
The Chinese culture, being one of the oldest civilizations, is characterized by a lot of symbolism and superstitions. There’s especially a lot of symbolism surrounding flowers. This post will be looking at the different meanings behind common flowers in China.
Flower Symbolism in Chinese Culture.
Flowers hold a respectable position in Chinese culture. There is rarely an object, painting, or fabric you’ll find without one type of flower or the other. Therefore, flowers are really important in China. They also hold different meanings and symbolize different things. This depends on the type of flower as well as the color. It’s important to learn what these symbols are especially if you plan on living in China or visit at some point. The following is a summary of the symbolism behind the different flower colors:
Chinese Pink Flowers Meaning.
Most flower plants have a species that produces pink-colored flowers. The pink can vary in shades, from light pastel colors to reddish-pinkish shades. The pink-colored flowers in Chinese symbolize life, joy, and celebration. A birthday is a great occasion to gift someone pink flowers in China.
Chinese Yellow Flowers Meaning.
In Chinese culture yellow flowers generally represent wisdom, wealth, and prosperity. Yellow roses specifically represent victory. They would be a great gift to someone if you wanted to wish them good fortune. Additionally, some believe that depending on how you gift yellow flowers, they could be interpreted as you asking the person to forget about you.
White Flowers in Chinese Culture.
To most people especially from the west, white is seen as a color of innocence, purity, and peace. In Chinese culture, however, this color is associated with ghosts and death. Close relatives and friends in China wear white to a funeral and send the bereaved family white flowers. It is therefore considered taboo to gift white flowers to a living person, as it symbolizes death.
Blue Flowers Chinese Meaning.
The color blue in the flowers symbolizes singularity, uniqueness, and rarity. It is a great gift to someone as a way of saying you share a unique bond. It’s a symbol of love that permeates spirituality, meaning it’s an unusual connection you two share. The blue flowers convey to the receiver that they are special to you and unique.
Purple Flowers Chinese Meaning.
Most people in the West, associate the color purple with royalty. In China, purple flowers also represent elegance. They also represent unity and optimism. Spiritually the purple color represents spiritual awakening. It opens your spiritual senses reminding you that you are connected to infinitely divine power.
Red Flowers Chinese Meaning.
In most places red represents love. In China, red flowers also represent compassion. Aside from that, they are also used to represent the longevity of life. In the Chinese color, red is considered a lucky color that’s positive and brings good fortune.
Types and Meanings of Chinese Flowers.
The symbolism of flowers in Chinese culture is quite complex. It doesn’t just stop at the colors of each flower. Based on the combination of color, type of flower, and occasion, the symbolism behind it varies. The following are the meanings behind some common flowers in China:
Osmanthus Flower Meaning.
This is one of the ten most common flowers in China that are easily recognizable. They have a strong fragrance and are used in local Chinese cuisine, especially in scented teas. Traditionally they represented love and romance. In old Chinese wedding customs, the bride would carry a pot of the plant to the in-laws. It was said to represent true love, faithfulness, fertility, and peace. It was a sign that the couple would give birth to noble children and have many grandchildren.
Lily Flower Meaning in China.
In China, Lilies were seen to represent happy unions and marriages. The Chinese word for Lilies translates into “happy union for a hundred years”. They were also seen as a good omen that a family would receive a son. In addition to that, lilies are seen as a symbol of good fortune and happiness. They are gifted to someone who may be going through a hard time. They’re also great gifts at a Chinese wedding or birthday. Any color is suitable.
Chinese Rose Flower Meaning.
This flower is also called the Queen of flowers, given its beauty. It has been chosen to represent over 50 cities in China. The shades of the petals can vary from white, cream, yellow, pink, or red. The red roses represent love and passion. The pink roses represent admiration joy and sympathy. The white and cream roses could mean loyalty, hope, new beginnings, or shared secrets. Don’t forget, however, the association of white and death. The yellow roses represent accomplishment and celebration and are a great way of saying congratulations.
Sweet Olive Flower Meaning.
This is a popular flower in China. It is used to make tea, jams, and traditional medicines. It’s a type of the Osmanthus flower, whose scientific name is Osmanthus fragrans. The flower is native to Asia and holds the same meanings mentioned above for the Osmanthus flower.
Lotus Flower Meaning in China.
This is a very important flower in China often depicted in its art and architecture. It grows in murky waters and the petals are either pink or white. It’s been present throughout Chinese history and is considered to represent wisdom, intelligence, purity, and nobility. This is based on how it grows in muddy waters but the petals remain clean and pure. The flower is spiritually linked to the Buddha. It is said to be the throne on which the Buddha sits and represents perfection and purity which are the nature of the buddha.
Chrysanthemum Flower Meaning Chinese.
Another native Chinese flower is Chrysanthemum, also known as the golden flower. The Chinese believe that this flower brings happiness into one’s life. Its name in Chinese translates to long life, hence it represents a long duration of life. It also symbolizes simplicity and an easy life given that it blooms in autumn. While the petals are commonly yellow, they can also be found in pink, purple, and white.
Orchid Flower Meaning Chinese.
Orchids are flowers that have a variety of meanings depending on the color and presentation. They represent love and simplicity. At the same time, they also symbolize elegance, beauty, and good taste. It can also be interpreted as unity when presented in a vase. The flower comes in a variety of colors including white, red, blue, yellow, and purple.
Peony Flower Meaning in Chinese.
These beautiful spring flowers are a favorite for many people, especially the red ones. They are also known as the King of Flowers in China since they were the first to be cultivated in the country. Generally, in Asia, the flower symbolizes prosperity and happiness. In China, it represents love and romance. It can sometimes be used as a metaphor for a woman’s laziness. The white peony flowers can also be used to depict beautiful witty young girls.
Hibiscus Flower Meaning in China.
These large petaled flowers are another popular type in China. They are used in making teas and medicine in most of Asia. The flower is associated with beauty fame and glory. It is used to symbolize the fleeting nature of personal glory, beauty, and fame. It is also a great gift for both women and men.
Chinese Plum Blossom Flowers Meaning.
These are among the oldest flowers native to China. They are one of the few that blossom during winter. The flowers in China symbolize beauty and perfection. Similarly, they represent the passing of life. This is based on how the blossom and after two weeks, fall from the crotchet. The custom of watching them blossom in the islands is called hanami and is very common among the Chinese.
Camellia Flower Meaning Chinese.
Camellias are native to China. The plant is very important because it is used to make oils and teas. In China, the flower represents the unity of lovers, whereby the layered petals symbolize the woman, and the green calyx represents the man. Unlike other flowers, when the camellia flower falls off, the petals fall together. That is why the kind of union they symbolize is one of true love and a long-lasting devotion. The flower comes in three colors, namely red, pink and white. The red camellia means deep desire and passion. The pink one signifies longing while the white one represents adoration.
Azalea Flower Meaning Chinese.
This is another flower in China that blooms in spring. Despite being poisonous it is still used for medicinal purposes. Their beautiful vibrant petals also make them great for decorations. The Chinese believe that the flower represents happiness, elegance, wealth, and prosperity. In some places, it can also symbolize family and the duty to family.
Some of the meanings associated with flowers in China can differ from other cultures. If you plan of gifting flowers to a Chinese or a person in China, ensure you understand the meaning the flower would hold given the type and color. That way you won’t risk them being interpreted in the wrong way.
Good day, Yelang.
I was most impressed with your explanation of flowers within the context of Chinese culture.
I would appreciate it if you would kindly illustrate how flowers were used during the Cultural Revolution narrative and in other periods of the Chinese Revolution. To mind comes the phrase, “let a thousand flowers bloom”. Was the phrase, “children, the flowers which never wither” coined during the Revolution or is it part of Chinese allegory?