The camellia flower, native to China, is a genus of flowering plants in the Theaceae family. This flower is an easy-to-grow evergreen that comes in a range of showy colors and an ocean of symbolic meaning.
These beautiful flowers may have around 200 species, but only a few are grown in the U.S for ornamental purposes. Their delicate appearance is just one reason why the Camellia is so famous. These flowers also have a fascinating history steeped in cultural significance and symbolic meaning.
Ready to learn more about the Camellia flower? Keep scrolling to discover symbolism, cultural significance, and more.
What Does The Camellia Flower Mean?
Although the camellia flower is native to China, they also grow in Asia, Australia, Japan, and Indonesia. These flowers are usually associated with love, devotion, adoration, care, longing, and passion.
They can also be used to represent happiness, perfection, and even death. However, like most flowers, the meaning of the Camellia flower can vary depending on the color of its bloom.
Etymological Meaning Of The Flower
Words carry weight and meaning. Although seemingly insignificant, even the name of a flower can reveal some profound meanings that shape its symbolism and cultural interpretations. So let’s take a closer look at the Camellia flower by examining its etymological meaning.
The camellia (noun) describes a genus of small trees and shrubs that grow mainly in Indonesia and Eastern Asia. The camellia was named around 1753 by Georg Joseph Kamel, the botanist, to first describe the flower.
When Carl Linnaeus developed the modern form of botanical taxonomy, he named the genus after himself.
Symbolism of the Flower
Now we’ve learned more about the camellia flower, we can finally ask the question – what does the it symbolize? Let’s take a closer look at the symbolism of this flower below.
Although the rose is the most common symbol of love in the West, the camellia symbolizes love in the east. It is made up of many inseparable parts, which are said to represent eternal love, making the it a popular gift to express devotion and fidelity.
Despite its positive associations, the flower is also symbolic of death. In Japan, a white camellia flower is considered bad luck because of its associations with funerals and death.
It is often laid on the graves of deceased family members to commemorate their lives and pay their respects.
The camellia is also a symbol of happiness, especially in Korea. Since 1200 BC, the camellia has featured in Korean weddings due to its associations with longevity, faithfulness, and happiness.
Have you ever seen a camellia flower up close? This flower is incredibly symmetrical, with an almost “too good to be true” appearance.
There are few flowers as perfectly symmetrical as the camellia. It’s also associated with excellence and perfection. It can be given as a gift to celebrate success in a career or personal life.
Camellia Flower Color Meanings
Color symbolism is so powerful that it can be seen in art, anthropology, and even marketing. Colors can influence our behaviors, perceptions, and interpretation of objects, events, and people.
The camellia flower can come in many multi-colored blooms, but the most common colors are red, white, and pink.
Let’s explore the symbolism behind the camellia’s colors below and examine how these can shape our interpretation of the flower.
Pink is one of the most common colors of the camellia flower. Historically, pink associates with kindness, compassion, femininity, love, and romance.
In the Victorian era, the pink camellia gifts symbolize love and longing.
The color red has some of the most potent symbolic meanings. Traditionally, red is symbolic of passionate love (think Valentines Day), but it can even represent war and bloodshed. However, in the context of the camellia, red represents desire and passionate love.
Historically, the red camellia has symbolized love’s fire in the heart’, making it a great gift for a romantic partner.
White may not be as vibrant as other colors, but it still carries significant symbolism. Like most other white flowers, the white camellia represents purity and innocence.
Weddings and baptisms often uses white flowers like camellias to symbolize the purity of the bride or the baby and represent a faithful, committed marriage.
Harper Lee’s novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird” also mentioned white camellias frequently. The white camellias owned by Mrs. Dubose represent the prejudice and racism that’s rife in Maycomb County.
One day, Jem destroys all the white camellias in Mrs. Dubose’s garden out of frustration at her prejudice. For this reason, the white camellia came to symbolize patience and understanding in the novel.
Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Camellia Flower
The camellia, or camellia sasanqua or camellia japonica flower, are easy-to-grow evergreens that are glossy and ideal for growing in containers.
It is ericaceous, meaning it requires acidic soil, and it does best in partial shade and full sun once it has established roots.
The camellia is a genus of almost 300 species and an estimated 3,000 hybrids. The Camellia sasanqua flowers bloom in the winter, and the camellia japonica blooms in early spring when it’s still cold.
Camellia flowers are also members of the Ericales order, meaning they’re closely related to both tea plants and azaleas.
The camellia flowers are native to both Japan and China, and in the mid-1700s, the flowers made their way to Europe before reaching North America before the end of the century.
Although camellias are mostly red, pink, and white, there is a species of yellow camellia. Such species people can find in South China and Vietnam.
Camellia flowers can vary in size, ranging from 1cm to 13cm. These bushes bloom in spring, autumn, and winter, and with the right care, some can live up to 100 to 200 years.
People well-loved these flowers for centuries, and reportedly, they were a common addition in the secret gardens of famous Chinese Emperors.
The flowers of the camellia are perfectly symmetrical. They’re also relatively large and can range anywhere from between 1 to 12 centimeters in diameter.
Most camellias have around 5 to 9 petals, and their fruit is a dry capsule divided into separate compartments. Each compartment contains between 1 to 8 seeds.
Special Occasions For The Camellia Flower
The camellia can be the perfect gift for a range of occasions. We’ll explore some of the most common ones below.
Valentines Day And Wedding Anniversaries
Red and pink camellias have strong associations with love and adoration. If you want to break the mold and avoid gifting a rose, why not choose a camellia flower?
These flowers can be a heartfelt way to express your love for someone close. They’ll also look fantastic in any bouquet or floral arrangement for a wedding or anniversary.
People can even give the camellia flower as a birthday gift. If you’re gifting one of these flowers to a close friend or family member, we recommend sending a pink camellia due to its associations with platonic love and kindness.
Thinking Of You
If someone you love is grieving or recovering from an illness, the camellia flower can be an excellent way to let them know you’re thinking of them. Although white flowers often associates with innocence and purity, they can also represent grief and loss.
Camellia Flower Cultural Significance
The camellia flower has many symbolic meanings and interpretations. Unsurprisingly, these have also influenced the cultural significance of the flower. So let’s take a look at the cultural significance of the camellia flower below.
The Chinese sees the camellia as a symbol of union between two heterosexual romantic partners. The flower’s petals represent the woman, and the leafy green stem that holds the petals together represents the man.
The inseparable parts of the camellia flower represent the strength of this union, even after death.
The camellia flower is the state flower of Alabama. In 1959, state governor John Patterson signed a bill to make the camellia the official state flower. The state flower hasn’t always been the camellia, though. From 1927 to 1959, the state flower was the Goldenrod.
In Victorian England, the camellia flower became incredibly popular. They used the bloom to send a message to a love interest. Also, they considered it a symbol of good luck. They also give it to those about to embark on a long journey.
Camellia Flower Facts
Keen to learn more about the camellia flower? It’s time to take a look at some of the most fascinating facts about this beautiful, intricate bloom.
- The oldest living camellia was planted in 1347. It can be found in the Panlong Monastery in China.
- Camellias blooms can be single, double, or semi-double.
- The camellia flower propagates via cuttings and seeds.
- Camellias can even grow in the form of small trees and shrubs, some of which can reach as tall as 66 feet.
- In the wild, the Camellia can live between 100 to 200 years.
- Camellias usually don’t have a scent, but some types are said to have a hint of anise, jasmine, and lemon.
- The petals of the camellia flower are perfectly symmetrical.
- The leaves of the Camellia sinensis are used in Chinese medicine to cure several ailments.
- The camellia flower is also known as the ‘rose of winter’, and it’s a common feature in Japanese gardens.
Camellia Flower Uses
The camellia is an intricate and symmetrical flower. It has a vibrant history. Many cultures well-loved it. Surprisingly, the camellia flower also has a range of practical uses. Below are some common ones.
The camellia flower has a range of medicinal properties. Camellia tea grew in popularity when a Chinese emperor discovered it. He added some dried camellia leaves into his cup when drinking hot water, which piqued interest in the use of the camellia for medicinal purposes.
Since then, people used the flower as a herbal remedy to treat various illnesses. The camellia is hemostatic, antihaemorrhagic, and astringent. Incredibly, it also shown anticancer activity. However, people usually use it to treat asthma, bacterial infections, and even heart problems.
Arts And Literature
The camellia has also made many appearances in art and literature. As we’ve already discussed, the white camellia appears in Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and became symbolic of both understanding and patience.
Camellia also has a surprising list of culinary purposes. In China, people pressed camellia seeds to create an oil for cooking and seasoning various foods. This oil can also sharpen, clean, and protect cutting tools like knives.
The camellia has become an iconic symbol in the fashion industry. The infamous Coco Chanel even wore this flower, and from here, the flower became incorporated into many famous Chanel products, from jewelry to shoes.
What Is The Symbolism Of A Camellia Flower Tattoo?
Whether you want to get inked with something meaningful, or you want a design that you find visually appealing, tattoos are a beautiful and impactful way of expressing our identities.
If you’re considering getting a tattoo, but do not know what to have, why not consider a camellia flower tattoo? Let’s explore the meanings behind a camellia flower tattoo below.
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? If you’re unable to perform a task without going all in, you’ll know that this can be both a blessing and a curse.
If you want a tattoo representing this part of your personality, the camellia flower is a great choice. It’s one of the only flowers in the world to be perfectly symmetrical. Put simply, it is the definition of natural perfection!
One of the biggest motivators for getting a tattoo is love. This could be romantic, familial, or platonic. In several cultures, the camellia flower is symbolic of love.
For example, your camellia tattoo could be commemorative or matching with another person, and it could even be indicative of your own self-love.
The camellia may not be the most color-diverse flower in the world, but there are several options to choose from. Because of its distinctive petals, you can tattoo the camelia in black or grey if you don’t want a color design.
People admired and adored the camellia for centuries. Its symbolic meanings and cultural significance have only given us more reason to love this incredible flower.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift, or you simply want to learn more about the camellia, we hope we’ve shown you that this flower can do something for everyone.
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