A Speech Unspoken: The Language of Flowers
As written by Tesseitre Carhiesel Illistim
Originally, the courtiers of Ta'Ardenai used the alyssum blossom
to indicate "worth beyond beauty"-- a great compliment
to the recipient, as it praised the recipient's mind and soul above
physical limitations. In later days, however, alyssum's unprepossessing
flower became a symbol of insanity when a minor Sheruvian cult adopted
alyssum as its sigil, and from this use alyssum became also known
Amaranth: The amaranth
plant blooms very early for its season and fades very late, and
the red varieties of amaranth catch the eye easily with their characteristic
sanguine hue. For these reasons, the giantmen of Araime Sun Clan
saw amaranth as a symbol of the everlasting heart of Elanith, and
they use it as a symbol of immortality and enduring love.
A legend of Jaston and Niima relates the creation of the anemone
flower. Supposedly, an Elven child was walking along an ocean
when she saw Niima dancing in the waves, crowned with ocean anemones,
and the little girl cried because she wanted some of the beautiful
flowers. Because the anemones would die if taken from the water,
Niima refused to give any of them away, and the child cried herself
watching, took one of the anemones from Niima and transformed it
into a beautiful flower that could live on the land, so that
child's tears transformed to delight. For this, the anemone is
called the windflower as well as the anemone, and it symbolizes
According to one story, a human priestess of Imaera was the first
to discover the medicinal properties of angelica, and the first
person ever healed by angelica was a troll-mauled human ranger who
came into her care. When the ranger fell in love with the priestess,
he discovered a poetic side to himself that he'd never known-for,
since he could not court her with deeds and displays of his hunting
prowess, he was forced to court her with poetry and sweet praise.
From this tale, angelica came to represent inspiration.
Aster: The Malghavan
halflings are always delighted by the thousand hues of wild-blooming
aster in the meadows of the Shirelands. They often give aster blossoms
to one another to symbolize joy found in variety or to symbolize
depth of spirit.
Begonia: When merchants
from the south first brought samples of begonia north, amateur Elven
gardeners were delighted with the ease of begonia-growing and with
the beauty of their leaves as well as their blossoms. As a result,
the elite quickly began to use the begonia's flowers and leaves
as symbols of gaudiness, though the less-skilled still use the begonia
to mean elegance.
Blaestonberry is well-known as the flower of maidens, both for the
pink-centered white of its blossoms and for the youthful pleasure
of consuming blaestonberry-based sweets. It symbolizes childhood
The name says it all; the pink, red, and white heart-shaped flowers
are used to symbolize heartbreak and longing.
Bluebell: After the
destruction of Maelshyve, some of the elves marvelled to see that,
despite the incredible destruction wreaked upon the area, the fragile
bluebells recovered and bloomed again before any other plant in
the area. Some Illistim herbalists suspect that this is because
the plant has hidden anti-magical properties, but no distillates
have proven useful as of yet for this purpose. Others among the
elves deemed the bluebell to be a symbol of constancy for its quick
The rapid growth of bougainvillea and the speed of its climb towards
the sun caused the elves of Ta'Ardenai to use bougainvillea flowers
as a symbol of playfulness.
Bur-clover: The symbolism
of the bur-clover's small yellow flowers comes directly from the
medicinal properties of bur-clover roots. A gift of bur-clover means,
"You are blind; see me now."
Burdock: The prickly
heads of burdock seeds, which can be particularly annoying to remove
from clothing and dog fur, led to the symbolic meaning of burdock's
pink and purple flowers: "Touch me not."
Buttercup: In one
of the more famous common songs of the Truefolk, a Malghavan sings
that the freedom to pick the buttercups of the field is worth more
than a thousand pirate-ships of gold. The declaration sparked the
imaginations of the bards of the Turamzzyrian Empire, and buttercup
came to symbolize riches of all kinds-- material and spiritual alike.
Children from Ta'Ardenai delighted to see the beautiful butterflies
attracted by butterflyweed's orange blossoms. They made a game of
catching the insects where butterflyweed grew, and much damage often
came to the plant in the process. A rather poetic Ardenai maiden
informed her over-ardent suitors that they were like children after
butterflyweed, and couldn't they just let her be? This legend led
to the symbolism of "Let me go!" behind a bouquet of butterflyweed.
Cactus: Although cactus
plants rely not on heat but on dryness of climate, they are most
associated in people's minds with the desert. For this reason, cactus
flowers represent warmth of feeling.
drooping, unobtrusive blossoms of calamintha caused the flower to
become a symbol of shyness.
Carnation: The carnation's
showy flowers are so readily available at merchants and so often
grown in commercial gardens all across Elanith that a number of
different meanings quickly became associatated with the flower.
Red carnations symbolize love, white carnations symbolize purity,
pink carnations symbolize pride, and yellow carnations symbolize
Chicory: In parts of
Elanith where coffee-bean is too expensive to import, some people
make a substitute drink from chicory for its stimulant properties.
Because of this, chicory symbolizes frugality.
is one story told in Ta'Loenthra that seems to be the source of
cinquefoil's meaning. Supposedly, an Ardenai merchant briefly courted
a human woman and then went away, not knowing that she grew large
with child. She grew old, raised their child, and died before he
returned. When he returned to that small village, his daughter paid
court to him, not knowing that she was kin. When he told her the
truth, he picked her a bouquet of cinquefoil and gave it to her,
saying to her that she would ever be as cherished by him as the
tiny cinquefoil flower was cherished of its plant. In most versions
of the story, the half-elven girl killed herself anyway, but the
cinquefoil flower retained the meaning "beloved child"
in Ta'Loenthra. Others, hearing the same story, use it as a symbol
of perversion, for the very thought of an elf courting a short-lived
Clematis: The clematis
flower earned its name from a famed Nalfein noblewoman of the same
name. She took great pride in her beauty, and she was never seen
in public without her eyes, skin, mouth, and cheeks carefully painted.
Her signature flower was the clematis, which she wore in her hair.
After a time, the clematis lost its prior name and became known
only by the name of the Nalfein, and it came to represent artifice
Clover: The busy bees
that flock around clover blossoms caused the flowers of red clover
to become a symbol of industriousness.
Columbine: The common
significance of columbine is folly and desertion, but the legend
behind such significance has been lost in time. Purple columbine
signifies resolution and determination, while red columbine signifies
anxiety. The color-linked significances may be traced back to a
forbidden romance between a matriarch of Ta'Illistim and a youth
of Ta'Ardenai, which unfortunately ended with the death of both
in an orcish raid.
Cothinar: The beautiful
white Cothinar flower is said to be a gift from one of the greater
spirits. During the Undead War, human clerics of Kuon recognized
that their skill alone would not be enough to turn the tide of battle.
Admiring the properties of acantha and similar herbs, they prayed
to their patron for a new herb that would work with similar skill
and greater speed. In human legend, they successfully transformed
the humble strawberry plant into something greater-the plant lost
its berries, but gained the remarkable restorative properties that
makes it so often foraged today. Cothinar flower placed into a bouquet
symbolizes the power of wishes and dreams.
Crocus: Sprouting so
soon after the end of the frost, the colorful flowers of the crocus
are some of the first to return after the end of winter. Crocus
blossoms are sometimes hung up at drinking-parties to keep the mood
jubilant and as a charm against sullen drunks. The crocus symbolizes
Daffodil: Before going
to battle, an order of human knights gathered in a meadow filled
with daffodils to swear an oath of chivalry and kindness towards
their foes. They donned vibrant yellow daffodils as a sign of their
mutual vow, and, when they did indeed win the battle, they refrained
from all pillaging, looting, and raping. As word spread, the peasants
began to bless the "Knights of the Daffodil," knowing
that they would be treated gently. The order is long since gone,
but the daffodil continues to represent respect and chivalry.
Daisy: Like blaestonberry's
blossoms, daisies represent innocence. The adolescent habit of weaving
daisy-chains is so pervasive that it is difficult to trace to a
specific culture, but halflings and humans seem most attached to
the custom. However, the maidens' chant of "he loves me, he
loves me not," recited while picking petals off a daisy, is
flowers open beneath the sun, close at sunset, and vanish on the
wind in clouds of white seeds. Dandelions require little care at
all, and, indeed, grow more frequently where they are not wanted
than where they are. Because of the omnipresent but ephemeral nature
of seeded dandelion flowers, the halflings use dandelions to symbolize
coquetry. The giantmen of Araime Sun Clan see the windblown seeds
in a more mystic light, however, and they use dandelion flowers
to represent spirituality.
other plants favor gardens and rich soils, delphinuris grows best
upon rocky terrain, spreading through nutrient-poor areas that other
plants disdain. The lushness and beauty of a delphinuris ground-cover
caused the elves of Ta'Ardenai to deem delphinuris to be a symbol
of peace in adversity.
beautiful crimson and gold of a fully bloomed dragonstalk reflect
the colors of Ta'Vaalor, and nobles among the Elves often use it
to symbolize that House. The common meaning of dragonstalk is "ferocity."
Dryad: Due to its preference
for higher elevations and colder climes, mountain dryad symbolizes
solitude. Ardenai travellers who ventured into the DragonSpine often
brought a sprig of dryad flowers back to demonstrate the distance
they had travelled.
seems almost stubborn in selecting difficult, hard-to-reach places
to grow. Although dwarves are not noted for an appreciation of flowers,
it is said that a Grevnek Clan dwarf once demanded that an unwelcome
suitor bring her an edelweiss flower to demonstrate his sincerity.
Her suitor travelled from Teras all the way to the DragonSpine,
and he made it most of the way up a sheer cliff before falling to
his death. Ever after, the tiny white flower has symbolized longing.
Fennel: Fennel symbolizes
strength, either for the distinct anise-like taste of fennel stems,
or for its perseverence in filling fields and glades.
is used often in remedies for headache and concussion. One elven
anecdote relates how an Illistim woman languished and coquetted
and refused to see her Vaalorian lover, claiming illness and fever
and headache one by one over the course of weeks. The Vaalorian
finally informed her guards, "If she has headache, let her
take feverfew, but I will see her now!" He disarmed the lot
of them and charged into her home, only to discover that he was
no longer her only lover. From this, feverfew symbolizes delay.
all plants, flamestalks shrink and crackle when dried, but, unlike
most, flamestalk flowers retain their remarkable hues. For this
reason, flamestalk is recognized throughout elven lands as a symbol
of pleasant memories.
misuse of foxglove accomplished several assassinations during the
period of time when the Turamzzyrian Empire strove to destroy the
Kannalan Alliance. Turamzzyrian intelligence agents exchanged sprigs
of the flower, carefully positioned in concealing bouquets, to signal
the time, date, and place of a death-to-come. From this, the pretty
foxglove flower acquired two symbolic meanings: first, "insincerity,"
and secondly, "danger."
Freesia: The freesia
plant's preference for cool (but not cold) sunny climes, combined
with its elegant flowers and light but pervasive scent, caused the
elves of Ta'Ardenai to designate the freesia flower as a symbol
Gardenia: The gardenia's
blossom and fragrance are beautiful, but short-lived and fleeting.
During the Horse War, one of the Mhoragian children fell ill immediately
after the Ardenai sorcerers cursed the Mhoragian herds with sickness.
It was said that the child had been so connected to her pony in
spirit that she shared its physical illness as well. The physicians
could find no remedy that would ease her sickness, and they were
all heartbroken from the death of the great herds. As the girl lay
dying beside her pony, she told her grieving family that she knew
her time had been short, but that she prayed her presence would
last even after she herself faded into death. Her pony was named
Gardenia, and, from the influence of the child's words, gardenias
became symbolic of purity.
Geranium: Like many
flowers, geraniums developed varied meanings in varied cultures,
and those significances only slowly coalesced when the cultures
clashed in such matters. As a result, different varieties of geranium
carry a number of different significances, distinguished primarily
by hue. The vivid hue of the wild pink geranium is best known for
its selection in Ta'Ardenai to indicate a preference among multiple
suitors; the white geranium's symbolic heritage stems from sylvan
custom, where it indicates true friendship. Bright red geraniums
signal a request for a meeting, but deep red geraniums are a Turamzzyrian
signal of melancholy.
flowers spread across meadows and fields in late autumn, and they
remain vividly yellow until the first frosts, like a promise of
the sun's return after the dark, cold winter months. Blooming among
the harvest-ready sheaves of wheat, goldenrod was accepted among
humans as a symbol of encouragement.
Gorse: The flower of
gorse symbolizes anger, most likely for the impenetrable spiny thickets
formed by the plant.
Heather: Heather blooms
far more often and more readily on wild moors and hillsides than
in cultivated gardens. For this reason, the elves of Ta'Ardenai
initially designated heather as a symbol of freedom, but the elves
of Ta'Vaalor corrupted the meaning to refer to undisciplined new
recruits in the Vaalor militia-- "heather-wild, and stupid
too!" After a time, the corrupted meaning and the initial meaning
joined, causing heather to represent an untameable spirit.
Hellebore: The beautiful
winter-blooming flowers of hellebore were routinely used in Ta'Ardenai
by a charismatic priestess of Luukos to represent the power of her
deity to overcome Lorminstra's jurisdiction. The followers of this
priestess would wear hellebore to symbolize Luukos's hand upon them
at all times. Although the Elves do not worship the Arkati, they
are quick to recognize power. The priestess's words swayed many
even in the highest echelons of Ta'Ardenai, and chaos ensued when
the extent of her influence became clear. When the dust had settled,
hellebore served as a symbol of scandal, though some still whisper
that a few of the priestess's minions still remain.
nectar-sweet blossoms of honeysuckle and the fashion in which it
twines about nearby trees caused the Ardenai to use honeysuckle
as a symbol of devoted love.
Hostas: Although hostas
do flower, and quite prettily so, the varigated leaves of hostas
are more often used in symbolic bouquets than the flowers themselves.
It is easy to distinguish between a healthy hostas plant and an
ill one because the colors of the sick hostas will fade dramatically.
As a result, the hostas symbolizes vitality.
Hydrangea: For a period of time,
it was very much in vogue for noble human maidens to wear long,
trailing pastel-colored gowns and to react to all courting with
as much indifference as possible. The cool pastel colors of the
hydrangea plant's blossoms probably played a role when poets in
the Turamzzyrian Empire designated hydrangea as a symbol of heartlessness.
Imaera's Lace: Legend says that
Imaera was utterly fascinated with the art of lace-making, when
she first saw an elf practicing the art. When she saw that the lace
was fragile and easily damaged, she crafted the blossom known as
Imaera's Lace so that lace would bloom forever throughout all the
world. As a result, while Imaera's Lace is a symbol of the Arkati
who crafted it, the flower is also a symbol of wonder.
colonies spreading north were fascinated by the beautiful, fragile
iceblossom. Admiring the delicate, translucent flower, they took
it as a sign of the adaptability and persistence of life and beauty
in even the most hostile of enviroments, and they used it to symbolize
Iris: The showy purple
iris flower was used by an inner ring of Nalfein nobles to indicate
the truth (or lack thereof) of the meanings of the flowers in the
rest of the bouquets. Shrewd socialites took great pleasure in sending
false bouquets that lacked the telling iris flower, and then in
watching rivals stumble over each other misinterpreting the matter.
Iris, since then, has meant "Believe me."
Jasmine: Jasmine's pleasant scent,
small-but-pretty white flowers, and usefulness in making teas and
perfumes caused the courtiers in Ta'Ardenai to use it as a symbol
of amiability, on the grounds that no one disliked jasmine.
The origin of the name "lady's slipper" is clear in the
flower's delicately folding petals and in its proximity to the ground.
Particularly poetic (and lovestricken) Loenthran courtiers have
long used lady's slipper in bouquets to symbolize their willingness
to pamper and care for the object of their passions. These days,
the common meaning of lady's slipper is "I submit to your whim,"
reflecting humility in a giver and capricious beauty in a recipient.
Larkspur: A legend
of Ta'Ardenai claims that Zelia once came down to dance on a grassy
hill, and, where the Arkati's footsteps passed, larkspur flowers
bloomed. The results of consuming larkspur are seen as akin to the
madness of the moons--for, while larkspur in minute doses can brighten
spirits and ease certain illnesses, the plant (particularly the
seeds) is also highly toxic. Larkspur symbolizes fickleness.
Lavender: The sweet-smelling,
unprepossessing lavender flower carries the unexpected meaning of
distrust throughout sylvan lands. It owes this odd symbolism to
a Dhe'nar priest with a particular fondness both for lavender oil
and for enslaving sylvan children. It took over eighty years before
anyone correctly determined the source of the disappearances, and,
by that time, over thirty sylvans had been worked to death or sacrificed.
Lilac: Lilac represents
the first emotions of love. Bouquets, wreaths, wristlets, or circlets
of lilac are traditional first courting gifts in Ta'Ardenai.
Lily (snow): It is
not known why the impoverished children of Icemule Trace decided
that snow lilies were an appropriate gift to offer in thanks for
charity. Perhaps they felt a certain kinship with the readily-overlooked
but beautiful little flowers. However, their gifts have caused the
snow lily to symbolize gratitude.
Stargazer lilies are carefully cultivated to brighten arrangements
and gardens, and they are found only rarely in the wild, these days.
For their beauty and the care it takes to grow stargazer lilies,
these gorgeous flowers symbolize high status and high breeding.
Mezereon: Due to its
beautiful flowers, delightful fragrance, and toxic red berries,
the elves of Ta'Ardenai used mezereon to symbolize flirtatiousness.
The elven saying, "He's just like mezereon," refers to
a person who wants to flirt but doesn't actually want to make a
Monkeyflower developed its current meaning only in the last hundred
years. Prior to this, it had never been given a symbolic meaning
by the prosaic dwarves on its native Teras Isle. By a trick of circumstance,
however, a playful Paradis halfling in Wehnimer's Landing discovered
that many Faendryl share a hereditary allergy to the pollen of monkeyflower.
Since the monkeyflower's sticky petals will adhere to any surface
to which they are pressed, the possibilities for entertainment were
vast. Monkeyflower became a symbol of laughter.
Moonflower: A surprisingly
strong wine with a sweet, strange scent can be made from the flowers
of the moonflower vine. This directly led to the Ta'Ardenai designation
of moonflower as a symbol of forgetfulness--for those who go to
sleep drunk on moonflower wine rarely remember the prior night when
The symbolic meaning of morning glory rests within the name; morning
glory symbolizes vainglory and ostentation. This poetic meaning
may come from the fact that morning glory flowers typically close
by midmorning, fading not long after dawn. In parts of Ta'Ardenai,
elven gardeners took a certain malicious pleasure from secretly
planting morning glory outside the homes of those archers whose
words did not measure up to their deeds--for, by the time most noticed
the insult, the climbing vines were firmly entrenched and difficult
to exterminate from the soil.
sad song of wind pouring through mournbloom petals caused the sylvans
to bedeck themselves and their homes with these odd flowers while
in mourning or during funeral times. The flowers quickly came to
symbolize the grief of those who wore mournbloom.
magical properties of nightshade are far too varied and too dangerous
to be described in this document. The Faendryl named the flower,
and the blossom quickly grew to represent sorcery.
Orchid: Thousands of
different types of flowers are classed as orchids, and, in the end,
they share perhaps only one thing: their beauty. The city of Nydds
is famous among those who appreciate such things both for the beauty
of the wild orchids growing nearby, and for the beauty of its youths.
A gift of an orchid blossom represents physical loveliness.
Pansy: Although blind
to many plants, scholars in Ta'Illistim are traditionally fond of
pansies. Many keep the small flowers in float bowls and bouquets
all about their homes. Whether the custom arose from the meaning,
or the meaning arose from the custom, is difficult to determine,
but pansy blossoms symbolize thought.
Pansy (snow): When
the first merchants from Icemule Trace travelled to Ta'Illistim,
an enterprising young human with a taste for gardening was among
their number, and she quickly convinced certain among the Illistim
to take a fancy to the snow pansies that she sold. With the preexisting
symbolism of pansies and the Illistim penchant for the pretty flowers,
it took only a small step for these pale, beautiful flowers to become
a courting-gift from those who considered themselves overlooked.
The message of a gift of a snow pansy is, "Turn your thoughts
Pea: The unprepossessing
flowers of the pea plant owe their unusual symbolism to the period
of time when the Turamzzyrian Empire strove to destroy the Kannalan
Alliance. Pea flower represents an appointed meeting, and, like
foxglove, carefully positioned sprigs of pea inside meaningless
bouquets served as a completely unexpected code to help with espionage
the hunt to destroy the Wsalamir Arctic Clan in the Second Age,
subtlety came into play as well as simple violence. The Arctic Clan
took many prisoners from among the human and elven villages (though
many of these prisoners wound up dead not long after), and among
these was a human healer who swore he would change sides to support
them if only they would leave him alive. He earned trust day by
day, until, twenty years into his captivity, he tried to poison
the leader of the Clan, concealing the scent of the toxins with
the heavy scent of pennyroyal. The giantman saw straight through
the attempted assassination, and told the healer, "You may
flee me, but you will never flee the wendigo in time," and
cast him into the cold. Since that time, pennyroyal has always meant
Peony: Peonies bloom
only briefly, perhaps a week at most. In the forests surrounding
Ta'Ardenai, these sun-yearning flowers last even less time than
a week. This helps explain why the elves used peonies as a symbol
Petunia: When petunias
blossom, if the faded blooms are cut away, the flowers will blossom
over and over again through the entire summer months and well into
the autumn. A ballad-writer scandalized the habits of one overly
flirtatious noblewoman in the Turamzzyrian Empire by comparing her
to a petunia--"She blooms and blooms again for the sun of any
smile!" After Lady Morriela recovered from her shock and shame,
she publicized a brief but telling letter of reply, finishing, "Throughout
my life, there has been little save pain, and I am glad enough of
any kindness. I am not proud." When the matter settled, the
last line of her letter became the significance of the petunia flower.
love-song sung by the Brughan halflings begins, "As the river
to the valley, as the siskin to the pine, as the phlox is to the
woodland, so my heart shall be to thine." The simple but pretty
sentiment of this song caused phlox to symbolize unity.
Primrose: The pretty,
small flowers of the primrose were often picked by elven children
and woven into bracelets and crowns. Delighted by their children's
play, the citizens of Ta'Ardenai chose primrose to symbolize early
By human legend, the name "fairy primrose" is far more
accurate than fanciful. These legends claim that six-inch-tall elves
with wings like dragonflies make their homes beneath the deep green
leaves of fairy primrose. As a result, the little flowers of the
fairy primrose became a symbol of enchantment, and the gift of a
fairy primrose says that the recipient is akin to one of the magical
Queen's Lace: When
compared to the flower of Imaera's Lace, the blossoms of Queen's
Lace (or, as some know it better, wild carrot) are coarser in design,
and their florets are less evenly spaced. The name stems from an
ancient legend in which a queen sought to take Imaera's Lace as
her own symbol, lessening the worship of the Arkati. When the queen
walked in her gardens, the blossoms of Imaera's Lace became less
beautiful and less delicate, reflecting the queen's own soul, while
the vines stuck straight and stiffly from the ground and refused
to climb across the trellises provided. In the symbolic language
of flowers, Queen's Lace means, "Do not command me."
Rose: The widely cultivated
rose blossom bears a thousand meanings in its petals-a full chapter
could be allotted in any book to the symbolism of roses among various
races and cultures. Roses are often used as symbols of Oleani, Voaris,
and Laethe, but the Mularosian Painlord Eryael used rose petals
as his personal sign. Most commonly, roses are taken as symbols
of love and beauty, with the red rose always meaning, "I love
you." However, the freshness, hue, variety, intactness or lack
of thorns, and presence of any accompanying flowers will all affect
the symbolism of a rose among those who speak the language of flowers
way in which the blackish-green leaves of rose-marrow conceal the
pretty scarlet and white flowers of the plant is responsible both
for the plant's name and for the plant's meaning. Rose-marrow symbolizes
a hidden heart.
Rosemary: Early human
herbal lore claimed that rosemary was good for strengthening the
memory of the aging and weak. Even after this legend was disproved,
rosemary still stood for remembrance.
Salorisa: The honey-sweet fragrance
of salorisa flowers lives on long after the flowers are dead and
dried. While this makes them particularly popular in potpourri,
those with more sensitive noses often find the scent to be cloying
in excess. For this reason, salorisa represents emotional stifling
Sirenflower: One Ashrim legend
claimed that sirenflowers sprang not from the hand of Imaera, but
from the hand of Jastev. This story probably comes from the paint-bright
hues of the sirenflower's petals combined with the eerie sound of
wind rustling through the paper-thin blossoms. The Ashrim also claimed
that the rustle of sirenflowers on a windless day signals that spirits
or demons draw near, and certain Ashrim sea-captains kept bundles
of dried sirenflower in their cabins to alert them to such dangers.
Sirenflower represents prophecy and second sight.
squeezed correctly, the blossoms of the snapdragon plant will open
and close like an animal's mouth. Human children at play sometimes
make "snapdragon puppets" out of the hand-sized blossoms
of giant snapdragon, a rather rare variety of this plant that naturally
grows in the Barony of Bourth. It is difficult to briefly determine
whether or not the current or historic politics of Bourth are related
to the snapdragon's meaning of "presumption," but a cultural
historian might be interested in examining the matter further.
ragweed, the pollen of sneezeweed causes a rather violent allergic
reaction in a large percentage of the human population. Aside from
the obvious problems inherent in giving a sneezeweed bouquet, a
gift of sneezeweed flowers means that the giver is mocking the recipient.
One story surrounding sovyn flower deals with the courtship of an
empath who had sworn her devotion first and foremost to her healing
arts forever. One of her would-be loves brought her a bouquet that
included the tiny golden flowers of the sovyn bush. The healer discarded
the other flowers entirely, saving only the sovyn flowers, and told
her courter, "I thank you for your kindness, but you act too
quickly-see, they have not dried yet into cloves. These are useless."
Since then, sovyn flowers have meant, "It is not yet time."
custom says that, rather than giving the pretty white and yellow
flowers of the strawberry plant to those who are loved, it is more
appropriate to put clusters of berries into bouquets; after all,
while the picked flowers will wither, the sweetness of the strawberries
can be enjoyed immediately. Either the blossom or the fruit of strawberries
Sunflower: The giantmen
of Araime Sun Clan admire the way in which the sunflower turns its
face always to the sun. They consider the sunflower to be an illustration
to the mortal races of Elanthia of devotion and admiration, and
this is the symbolic meaning that accompanies the flower.
Talneo: The beautiful
periwinkle flowers of the talneo vine grow in lengthy stalkfuls
of florets, cascading across whatever trellis or tree the vine may
be climbing. For the lazy, languid appearance of the drooping flowers,
the Ardenai use talneo to represent dreaminess.
Thyme: Some people find
the scent of thyme unusually invigorating, and, for a time, Shireland
custom included the wearing of small thyme amulets to lift the heart
and senses through the day. Due to this Truefolk tradition, thyme
texts from the days of the Elven Empire describe the proper behavior
of a human female servant in order for such a servant to be permitted
in public. "Instruct your maidservants in the way of the trillium
flower," reads one such text. "Her duties are first to
be inconspicuous in her demeanor, second to be well groomed in her
appearance, and third to be efficient in her duties." This
scrap of text may relate to the trillium flower's symbolic meaning
of "modest beauty." Near Wehnimer's Landing, however,
trillium holds an additional meaning. In legend, Leya loved trillium
blossoms when she was young and mortal, and the pretty white flowers
grow freely around her shrine. To those who worship Leya, trillium
represents hope despite pain. Trillium growing near a home is considered
a sign of Leya's blessing.
its prosaic name, the tuberose is noted for its heady, intoxicating
scent. Sufficient numbers of tuberoses blossoming in a confined
space can lead to dizziness and even unconsciousness. For a period
of time, Nalfein noblewomen took delight in wearing tuberose essences,
augmenting their dangerous personalities with an equally seductive
scent. It is hardly surprising that the tuberose came to mean "dangerous
Tulip: The tulip flower
is as beautiful as it is distinctive, and the combination is why
human courtiers have long used most tulips as a symbol of fame.
Although the shape of the tulip is specific, varieties of tulip
vary wildly in color, and some tulips have acquired independent
symbolic meanings as a result. Red tulips represent a declaration
of love, yellow tulips represent hopeless love, and black tulips
represent cruelty. The unusual but beautiful ice tulips of Icemule
Trace symbolize caution, perhaps for their fragile appearance.
is used medicinally, magically, and in some religious rituals of
Imaera, Kuon, and Aeia. It grows freely throughout Elanith. Due
to its versatility and omnipresence, valerian symbolizes an accomodating
Verbena: Verbena is
sometimes used by skilled herbalists as a treatment for coughing
and wheezing. It has been most effective in treating a coughing
sickness in human children that often proves fatal if left untreated.
For this reason, and for its clusters of bright flowers that never
grow alone, verbena symbolizes family union.
Violet: Violets carry
a number of different symbolic meanings, as they grow in so many
places and please the eye of so many cultures. Blue violets are
used as a token of friendship and rememberance, while purple violets
symbolize faithful love. Alpine violets are used in bouquets to
request candid words; this was originally a sylvan custom, though
its source is obscured by time. Due to the reclusiveness of their
tiny yellow blossoms, wood violets represent secrecy. The flaming
violets of River's Rest are magical creations rather than natural
flowers, but they, too, have earned a place among floral symbolism:
flaming violets symbolize intellectual brilliance.
Water lily: The beautiful
blossoms of these aquatic flowers have long been the subject of
elven poetry, songs, and paintings, particularly during the middle
portion of the Second Age, when elven artists turned their attention
towards landscape art. Their association with water, the age-old
symbol of the unconscious, has long caused water lilies to represent
Wolfsbane: Wolfsbane got its name
when a group of inept hunters noticed that wolves would not eat
the meat of animals killed near this plant. One of this group, Arnica,
suggested that treating the meat of their kill with wolfsbane might
prevent the wolves from trying to steal their dinner. It worked-too
well. As well as keeping the wolves away, the toxic properties of
the wolfsbane plant left the hunters and their families painfully
sick. After that, wolfsbane (or arnica after the foolish hunter)
was strictly avoided, no matter how repellent wild animals found
its properties. Although the medicinal properties of wolfsbane were
later discovered, the plant never lost its symbolic meaning of betrayal.
Legend holds that a Dhe'nar priestess of Imaera long loved the beautiful,
exotic flowers that the vine produced, but she felt that it was
a taint to her honor to tend them, because the flowers were of no
herbal use despite their beauty. When she finally went to command
a servant to uproot them from her garden, she heard a voice that
commanded her to stay her hand and observe them further. She began
to study and test woth flower at length, and she was the first to
discover how woth flower could be used to overcome defects in the
nervous system. From her experience and her words, woth flower gained
the meaning of "blessed beauty."