Black Dahlias Flower Meaning: A Comprehensive Look

Dahlias are beautiful flowers that come in several shades, each one laden with symbolism, with the black dahlia sitting at the very top. So, what is the black dahlias flower meaning?

Black dahlias are often associated with dark and negative emotions like sadness and mourning. The intense dark blooms serve as warning signs of betrayal. Yet, despite their reputation, these lovely flowers have much to offer.

In this article, we’ll learn more about black dahlias, their meanings and symbolism, and some interesting facts that may fascinate you.

Characteristics of Dahlias

Dahlias belong to the Asteraceae family of flowering plants. Other prominent flora under this classification includes sunflowers and daisies.

The most outstanding feature of this taxonomic class is the presence of flowers characteristically grouped into compact heads. This arrangement gives the impression of an individual flower.

Zooming into Dahlias, they grow from underground tubers and thrive in warm weather conditions. The height of the plants typically varies between 3 and 5 feet.

These stunning blooms are considered perennials in most areas. However, they’re grown as annuals in regions with colder winters.

Dahlia Classifications

Currently, there are over 42 species and 20,000 registered varieties of Dahlias. With this much volume, you may find them categorized based on color, size, and form.

In terms of form, there are 15 classifications based on petal structures and bloom styles. These classes include decorative, water lily, single, pompom, and anemone.

On the other hand, there are nine categories for dahlia sizes. These identifications rely on the diameter of the blooms.

For instance, flowers more than 10 inches in diameter are considered giant and tagged AA. Small flowers four to 6 inches in diameter are BB.

When it comes to color, the American Dahlia Society lists 15 general classifications. That includes the following:

Colorful Dahilas
  • White
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Dark Pink
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Dark Red
  • Purple and black
  • Lavender
  • Bronze
  • Light blend
  • Dark Blend
  • Variegated
  • Bicolor
  • Flame

Are Black Dahlias Actually Black?

Contrary to their name, black dahlia flowers aren’t black. The truth is, the petals are deep burgundy. Because of that dark tone, you can easily mistake them for black.

It’s also worth noting that the color intensity deepens towards the center of the blooms. Similarly, tightly-packed petals give an even darker perception.

Dahlias Flower Meaning

Dahlia is native to Mexico and Central American countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In fact, Dahlia is the national flower of Mexico.

This plant, named after Andreas Dahl, thrives even in the harshest conditions. Because of this ability, people quickly attach dahlias to inner strength.

On top of that, these flowers signify gracefulness and the capacity to react nobly under immense pressure or stress.

Kindness, commitment, and relaxation are other general connotations of dahlias.

With all these positive attributes, dahlias are perfect gifts to show support for someone going through a life change.

However, choosing the correct flower color is essential in sending the right message.

Read more: Black Hellebore Flower Meaning

Black Dahlias Flower Meaning

While most dahlia colors have positive attachments, some varieties have negative meanings. For example, black dahlias often symbolize death, mourning, darkness, and sadness because of their bold and intense blooms.

Mystery of Black Dahlias

Black dahlias are rare and symbolize mystery. There are only less than 20 varieties of this kind out of the registered total of 20,000. For years, their color and how they came about puzzled scientists.

In 2012, a team from the Vienna University of Technology in Austria conducted a study to figure out what causes the unique colorations in black dahlia flowers.

The findings showed that the black species have significantly lower flavone content. This value means more synthesis and production of anthocyanins.

The resulting metabolites are the same chemical components that give red dahlias their color. So, it’s not surprising that black dahlia flowers have deep burgundy petals.

Black Dahlias and Elizabeth Short

Black dahlias also symbolize brutality and despair. With the death of the aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, this reputation didn’t improve at all.

Short was viciously murdered in 1947 and left in a neighborhood park. The discovery of the body showed severe mutilations, including being cut in half and a horrifying smile carved on the face.

Short’s knack for wearing sheer black clothing when she was alive also earned her the nickname Black Dahlia.

To this day, the murder remains a cold case, though not without considerable effort. Even citizens got in trying to piece things together.

Needless to say, solved or unsolved Short’s death continues to tie black dahlias with negative thoughts.

Black Dahlia Flower

Black Dahlias in Literature and Film

Short’s murder and the metaphor of black dahlias have since been used in certain literature, whether prose or poetry. It has become an inspiration for plots in murder stories. Some books also reference the said brutal crime.

Perhaps the most notable piece is James Ellroy’s 1987 book entitled Black Dahlia. Although considered fiction, some of the details mentioned in the book are facts from the investigation of Short’s death.

In 2006, director Brian De Palma turned the book into a crime thriller movie of the same title. It starred actors Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, and Scarlett Johansson.

Black Dahlias in Music

Black dahlias transcended into the music scene as well. The metaphor of these flowers surfaces in motifs symbolizing pain, suffering, and betrayal.

The presence of a metal band known as The Black Dahlia Murder is another testament to the flower’s effect on the industry.

Black Dahlias in a Positive Light

On a positive note, black dahlia flowers symbolize power, ambition, and deep passion. Their dark blooms also provide an air of elegance and sophistication to any setup.

Although unparalleled in beauty and with positive attributions, you should be cautious when gifting black dahlias purely. A common practice is to combine them with dahlia varieties of different colors. Doing so somehow negates the unpleasant association.

Of course, it helps as well to be outright with your message. Put in a little note to clarify your intent. Otherwise, the receiver may misconstrue your meaning.

Other Dahlia Colors and Meanings

For your mix-and-match of dahlia blooms, check out the following general meanings corresponding to the specific color:

  • Red: This hue symbolizes perseverance to overcome challenges.
  • Pink: Shades of pink have associated meanings with kindness and feminine beauty.
  • Purple: Gifting purple dahlias is a show of respect and admiration also suitable to royalty.
  • Yellow: The yellow color stands for joy, happiness, and cheer.
  • White: White dahlias are classic representations of purity, innocence, and new birth.
  • Green: Dahlias with green coloration are symbols of change and growth.

Reader Also Checked: Green Hellebore Flower Meanings You Should Know

Black Dahlia Varieties

For your reference, here are some black dahlia varieties you may find attractive for your garden beds or on bouquets:

1.   Arabian Night Dahlia

This species is truly eye-catching and categorized under decorative dahlias. It features showy, 4-inch-wide, fully-double flowers.

The petals are flat-tipped and tend to curve inwards. Adding to its charms are tiny green floral bracts.

Most varieties grow to around 36–48 inches and bloom starting July until frost. They’re a perfect choice for a beautiful garden display.

2.   Sam Hopkins Dahlia

With origins from the Netherlands, this decorative type of dahlia matures to 3-4 feet tall.

It produces four to 6 inches-wide blooms from late summer to early fall. The showy flowers coupled with deciduous leaves make them ideal for cut flowers or herb borders.

Red and Black Dahlia

3.   Karma Choc Dahlia

Karma Choc is an example of a water lily-type dahlia. The flowers have a velvety appearance with a deep burgundy color that’s almost black at the center.

The plant is more compact than other varieties averaging a height of 3.5 feet only. Despite that, it produces four-inch-wide blooms.

4.   Dahlia Tamburo

This variety matures to a height of only 2-3 feet. It produces slightly elongated petals, with a velvety, dusky chocolate appearance and a hint of green at the center.

The flowers measure 4 inches in diameter with outer petals rolling under as they go outwards. They start to bloom in mid-summer and last until the first frost.

5.   Dahlia Honka Black

The Dahlia Honka Black, also called Star or Single Orchid Dahlia, features eight deep red petals shaped into stars. They create contrast with the striking yellow center.

This smaller variety grows only between 1 to 3 feet but is a definite attraction. Their long blooming period and tall stems that support the blooms make them an excellent choice for cut flowers.

Final Thoughts

Dahlias survive even in the most unfavorable living conditions. That’s why they commonly symbolize inner strength.

These flowers also represent good feelings like joy and hope. On top of that, they’re attached to pleasant traits such as gracefulness and kindness.

Most Dahlias connote positive sentiments, but the black dahlia flower’s meanings are usually the opposite. They often symbolize betrayal, sadness, mourning, and mystery.

All the same, you can use them in combination with lighter-colored blooms to negate their unpleasant meanings. Even better, write a note to make your intentions clear.

Doing so allows you to enjoy the elegance and sophistication that black dahlias bring to any arrangement.