Dragons in mythology are almost always a rare species, moving in small weyrs, seemingly too powerful to possibly exist in large numbers, but, native to four of the seven major continents, the snapdragon flower is a common floral soul.
This wide reach around the globe is part of the reason it’s such a nuanced plant in terms of symbolism, but the fact that it has draconic characteristics definitely contributes to the fascination as well!
So, without further ado, let’s enter the dragon’s lair, and see what meanings we can find lurking amidst the Antirrhinum’s horde.
What Does The Snapdragon Flower Mean?
Of all the meanings attached to this wonderful flower, the most prominent is strength. The snapdragon thrives in rocky areas where most plants would rather stay in their seed forever.
Yep, much like its mythical namesake, the snapdragon is one mean life form, ready to make things work no matter the obstacles in the way, even if that obstacle is a straight-up mountain!
Due to the hardy nature of this plant, those who have survived difficult circumstances in life feel a kinship with it. It may not have been an easy ride for you or the snapdragon, but here you are, against all odds, blooming, showing the world your optimal self.
Etymological Meaning Of The Snapdragon Flower
The official name of the snapdragon is Antirrhinum. Anti is derived from Greek and means “like”. Rhin is the Greek for “nose”, so, putting the pieces together, we have “like a nose” or “nose-like”, which almost certainly refers to the snout-shaped blossom of the snapdragon.
The Greeks also referred to these plants as Kynokephelon, which translates as “Dog-headed”.
In regard to the name snapdragon, it’s generally agreed that it comes from the act of pinching the throat of the flower, as the “snout” will open, and there will be a faintly audible clicking sound.
Symbolism Of The Snapdragon Flower
Now let’s really dive into the symbolic side of the mysterious snapdragon!
As we’ve already touched upon, due to the sheer will of these stubborn, rock-dwelling lifeforms, the snapdragon is most associated with notions of strength. It may be a beautiful and dainty flower, but it stands shoulder to shoulder with stones without breaking a sweat.
Gifting somebody a snapdragon or including a snapdragon in a bouquet says to the receiver that you, the giver, are in awe at their resilience and that many others would have been defeated by the obstacles they have overcome.
In this sense, the snapdragon can also represent pride and accomplishment.
- Resolve Under Pressure
If you’re looking for a slightly more specific meaning, snapdragons can also refer to resolve under pressure. Growing them in your garden within view of a window can be a good source of encouragement when times are tough.
Be it related to money, family, relationships, or your professional life, you may be feeling the pressure, but every time you glance out your window, you’ll be reminded of the fire you have inside, and that you are strong enough to face these challenges!
Despite the inherent toughness of the snapdragon, they’re nonetheless beautiful, which is why they also represent grace, particularly in times of hardship, which is when true grace is exhibited.
A bouquet of these flowers or a plot with them growing in the yard can help embolden the spirit and give us poise in sticky situations, even if the outcome isn’t looking as positive as we’d hope.
According to legend, concealing a snapdragon flower on your person can make you seem more cordial and fascinating to others — the perfect pocket posy for your party outfit!
People would wear them surreptitiously to give their charisma a hefty boost before a get-together, so they could schmooze with the best of them and make lots of friends.
Perhaps tied into notions of concealment and secrecy, the snapdragon is also considered a token of deceit, which means you should be very careful how you gift them.
If you associate the snapdragon with an individual, and they haven’t, to your knowledge, emerged victorious from challenging circumstances, it might be that your intuition is warning you of a duplicitous personality.
This is likely why the snapdragon was also used in the past as a charm to protect against insincerity and downright falsehood.
Snapdragon Flower Color Meanings
Snapdragons have a wide color pallet, and, as you might expect, each hue brings its own additional meanings to the bouquet or flower bed. So, before you grow or gift these draconic beauties, it’s important that you understand what each shade is saying.
The snapdragon may break the mold in terms of habitat, but the white variant doesn’t bring anything novel to the equation. Much like flowers of many species, white snapdragons represent purity and innocence.
However, combined with notions of strength, the cumulative meaning of these white flowers can be quite unique. They’d be perfect as decor or a gift at the christening of a child that was perhaps born prematurely, but fought through, and is now stronger than ever.
As is the case with most yellow flowers, snapdragons of this hue symbolize good luck, happiness, and all-round positive vibes — hooray!
Marry these sentiments with the snapdragon’s core meanings of strength and grace under pressure, and it becomes a fitting gift for somebody about to go through a challenge in life, rather than somebody coming out the other side of one.
If it’s you that’s about to take on a challenge, whether that be a new job, a personal venture, or perhaps medical treatment, growing yellow snapdragons can gear you up for the road ahead and keep you focused and positive.
Orange flowers typically evoke feelings of excitement and enthusiasm, which, combined with the symbolic strength of the snapdragon, can be a gesture that both acknowledges hardship surpassed and the bright future ahead — nice!
Red flowers are all about love and passion, but the red snapdragon carries all that in tandem with thoughts of resilience and resolve, making them the incarnation of not one person who has survived hardships, but a couple.
Though they have faced many challenges to be together and survive together, their love conquers all and reigns supreme.
In light of this, even though red flowers are usually part of intimate exchanges between two lovers, the red snapdragon is a suitable gift to a couple from somebody else who recognizes their accomplishments and the strength of their union.
Pink flowers almost always represent traditional femininity, grace, and gentleness, traits that form a wonderful contrast with the rugged resilience of the snapdragon.
The pink variant of this flower suggests that people and things exist in a constant tension between perceived opposites. It shows us that single personality traits do not define an individual. One can be both strong and gentle, both feminine and rugged.
Traditionally, purple flowers are symbolic of royalty, luxury, and high society in general, but the lavender snapdragon has more to do with spirituality. However, in this difference, there seems to be a link
The purple snapdragon still symbolizes hierarchies and values, but these a pure, godly, and natural in nature, while, in direct contrast, typical purple flowers allude to “false”, man-made ideals and hierarchies.
The difference between the purple flower and the purple snapdragon is the difference between the wealthy king and the impoverished holy or wise man.
Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Snapdragon
When you squeeze the “throat” of a snapdragon, the petal jaws open like the maw of a dragon readying itself to breathe fire, reflecting our ability to thrive when we’re “pinched” by pressure or challenges.
In botanical terms, snapdragons are known as personate flowers, meaning the blossom has a mask-like appearance, which reminds us that our bodies are just a mask for the soul, a vessel in which our true essence and beauty travels.
Deadheading snapdragons is essential to optimizing their floral growth when they’re in season, which is a reminder that we shouldn’t dwell on the past too much. We learn our lessons, shed our skin – so to speak – then move on and bloom anew.
Special Occasions For Snapdragon Flowers
While snapdragons aren’t connected to any particular month or anniversary, they still make a great gift on a number of special occasions.
We discussed earlier how the white variant is a shoo-in for christenings, and baby showers aren’t out of the question either. But you can also incorporate the snapdragon in retirement parties, anniversaries, new job celebrations, graduations, and any situation in which somebody is celebrating overcoming a challenge.
Snapdragon Flower Cultural Significance
The cultural significance of the snapdragon flower predates even the Roman Empire. That’s right, folks; before Caesar was a glint in his father’s eye, early Europeans would use snapdragons as tokens of truth, to ensure they would not fall prey to the deceit of others.
Likewise, in the flower language of Victorian Britain, snapdragons symbolized truth-telling. However, as the first thing a liar would do is claim honesty, this could also be the source of the snapdragon’s association with deception.
European folklore tells us that stepping on a snapdragon was a sure-fire way to shake the shackles of curses and black magic from your being.
Snapdragon Flower Facts
- Despite their ability to thrive in almost completely uninhabitable environments, the snapdragon is usually a fairly short-lived perennial plant. In fact, some snapdragons are annual plants, meaning they grow, bloom, seed, and die in a single year.
- The snout-like blossom of the snapdragon blocks access for most insect life, but the bulky bee has the power to shoulder the jaws of the dragon apart, and nestle in to collect its nectar.
- Snapdragons are prone to rust in particularly hot, arid climates (“rust” refers to a group of fungal diseases).
- Snapdragons enjoy lots of sun and moisture, so if you’re trying to grow them in your yard, keep them away from shade, and make sure their soil is damp with good drainage, as their roots are prone to rotting.
- A rather mysterious plant, no one is 100% sure where snapdragons originated, although it’s suspected that their native land could be Italy or Spain.
- There are 40 known species of snapdragon, and, surprisingly, they belong to the Plantaginaceae family, which is the plantain family.
- Snapdragons come in three size varieties: dwarf, medium, and tall. Depending on which category they fall into, they can grow between 15 and 120 cm (6–48”).
Snapdragon Flower Uses
- Snapdragons have been used to formulate green dyes in the past.
- It’s said that snapdragons have anti-inflammatory properties, which is why they’ve been used in poultices for centuries. These medicinal concoctions are used primarily to soothe tumors and ulcers.
- Snapdragon flowers are completely edible, but they’re often only used as decoration to improve the visual elements of a dining experience. If you find them on your plate, it might be best to leave them to the side, as their taste ranges from bland to bitter… yum, am I right?
What Is The Symbolism Of A Snapdragon Flower Tattoo?
Snapdragon tattoos frequently have unique meanings personal to the wearer, but they typically fall under the symbolic umbrellas mentioned earlier in the article, the most common of which is strength.
If you see someone with snapdragon ink, it could well be communicating that the individual has been through some rough times but was never defeated, and now they’re on a happier, more stable path.
That floral ink could also be a symbol of grace, or perhaps that the wearer has dealt with deceitful people in the past. If the latter is true, it could be a reminder to those around that falsehood will not be tolerated.
And that brings us to the end of this snapdragon deep-dive. Here are your cap and gown; you’re now a certified snapdragon aficionado, capable of using this flower to coax up strength in yourself and others, to summon the dragon within, and remind us all that there is an inextinguishable fire inside!
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