Flowers, perhaps more than any other part of the natural world, are fascinating because of the many layers of meaning people have shrouded them in throughout history.
There is a whole sub-category of etiquette surrounding which flowers are appropriate to give at what times, and to whom. The unending rules surrounding something so simple as a flower can be dizzying. Another aspect of flower lore concerns the designated flowers for each month of the year. June’s official flower is the rose.
Legends and Lore of the Rose
- Roses have long been seen as the flower of passion in various cultures. The ancient Greeks believed that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, named roses in honor of her son Eros, the god of love.
- There are more than 100 species, in a variety of sizes and colors. A gift of this flower can have many different meanings, depending on their color, and the number of roses in the bouquet.
- Throughout history, they have been adopted as the symbol of countless causes. They are the official emblem of numerous countries, including Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, and even the United States.
- They have also taken on religious connotations over the centuries, being used to represent not only Jesus and the Virgin Mary but also all Christian martyrs.
- During the 20th Century, roses became a symbol of freedom and non-violent resistance in oppressed nations.
- Rose oil has been used in perfume for centuries because of its distinctive, and highly aromatic scent.
- Rosehips, the fruit of the rose plant, are edible and rich in vitamin C. They are often used in jams and jellies, tea, and other recipes, as well as in cosmetics. The petals and leaves are frequently used in herbal medicines, primarily to treat stomach problems.
- The rose bush’s characteristically thorny stems are often used as a metaphor for the unpleasant side-effects of obtaining one’s desires.
June’s Other Flower: The Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle refers to any of about 180 shrubs and vines from the genus Lonicera.
Native to the Northern Hemisphere, honeysuckles feature oval leaves and sweet, strongly scented, bell-shaped flowers. The sweet smell is not confined to the flowers, but also infuses the leaves and twigs of the plant, which releases a fragrance if crushed or broken. The flowers come in a variety of colors — from white to yellow, orange, red or pink and have edible nectar that is irresistible to butterflies and hummingbirds.
Though some species of honeysuckle are native to North America, many others were imported here and are now considered invasive species. In Britain, honeysuckle is popularly known as “woodbine” or “woodbind.”
According to the secret language of flowers employed during the Victorian era, honeysuckle represents devotion and unity in love. One old belief surrounding honeysuckle was that if the plant were brought into a house, a wedding would shortly follow.
Traditionally, honeysuckle was used to treat fevers, colds, asthma, dysentery, and diarrhea, and it is still an ingredient in herbal cold remedies.
Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.