Desert Rose Flower Meaning

Flowers aren’t just pretty faces. They carry deep symbolism based on cultural beliefs and representations. For instance, the desert rose flower meaning primarily extends to Asian roots.

The exquisite blooms signify prosperity and good fortune. They may also symbolize resilience due to their hardiness and ability to withstand extreme weather.

Stick around to learn more about the meaning of desert rose flowers. We’ll also discuss the flower’s botanical characteristics and care methods.

Desert Rose Flower History

In 1762, the German scientist Pehr Forsskal first found the desert rose flower in Yemen. The European explorer embarked on the journey funded by the Danish king.

Other similar explorers mazed their way through Africa and found the desert blooms. They found them in countries like Kenya and Tanzania.


The desert rose flower originated from the Arabian Peninsula, namely, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman. The blossoms are also native to East African and Sub-Saharan regions.


The desert rose, scientifically classified as Adenium obesum, holds an Arabic etymological background. Adenium originates from the Latin Arabic term oddaejn, which refers to the flower’s first cataloged geographic area.

Meanwhile, the second part of the flower’s name, obesum, translates to swollen or obese in the same language. The characteristic is likely referring to the plant’s bulging trunk appearance.

Aside from that, desert roses go by multiple other names. Diverse cultures call them Chuan Chom, Sabi star, mock azalea, impala lily, kudu, and adeno.

The flowers got the name impala lily after observers noted the appetite impala antelopes held for the cultivar.

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Desert Rose Flower Symbolism

Desert rose flowers are abundant in symbolism. Their meaning primarily stretches into cultural landscapes, like Asia. Additionally, the flower also makes an appearance in several literary works.

Chinese Culture

In Chinese settings, people identify the desert rose as fuguihua. The prefix fu means wealth, abundance, and richness. The following morpheme, gui, translates to majestic. Lastly, the final part of the word, hua, refers to a flower.

Chinese cultures often compare the flower’s swollen form to the laughing Buddha’s protruding belly.  That said, the desert rose signifies good fortune and auspicious days ahead. The thickness of the flower’s trunk connotes the level of abundance you’ll achieve.

During Chinese cultural celebrations, people purchase flowers and say huakai fugui. It means that the blooming plant will offer prosperity and success. In addition to these prosperous connotations, the desert rose could symbolize fertility in Asian beliefs.

Feng shui is a prevalent practice in Chinese households. It’s an ancient art that instructs you how to arrange your furniture to achieve the best balance. In turn, desert roses fit well with a feng shui environment and provide your living space with a prosperous atmosphere.

Thai Culture

In Thailand, people call desert roses Chuan Chom. It roughly translates to “worthy of admiration.” That said, horticulturists and farmers popularly cultivate the flower in Thailand for a good reason.

People often plant desert rose flowers on Wednesday to gain auspicious energy benefits. Desert rose plants bloom from November to February in Nongnooch Garden in Pattaya. Visitors marvel at the bulging beauty of its caudex and bright-colored petals.

Indian Culture

Similar to Chinese and Thai cultures, desert rose flowers in Indian beliefs harbor good fortune. The plant began its cultivation in the Asian country about 50 years ago.

Other Symbolisms

In other beliefs, desert rose flowers connote resilience and steadfastness against adversity. It’s likely due to the plant’s growth conditions since it blooms despite being subject to harsh weather.

Other spiritual symbolisms view the desert rose flower as a sign of hope, promise, and new beginnings.

Desert- Rose Flower

Desert Rose Flower Meaning From Color

Desert rose flowers can symbolize distinct characteristics based on their color. These representations may also stem from Asian cultural belief systems.


Pink desert rose flowers are the most plentifully grown. They symbolize joy, balance, and harmony. It also represents rejuvenation.

The meaning derives from the plant’s growth pattern. It survives unfavorable conditions through hibernation followed by rejuvenation. It finally reblooms after living in a poor environment.


Red is an exceptionally symbolic color among Asian cultures, specifically Chinese. For this reason, red desert rose flowers represent luck and a prosperous future.

The cultivar would make an ideal gift or decoration during Lunar New Year celebrations. Aside from that, red is also the color of love and passion. It makes the flowers a perfect gift for your significant other.


White desert rose flowers are notoriously rare. In most cases, the flowers aren’t purely white, and have stripes of yellow tinting the petals. In Thai culture, the white blooms symbolize purity and Buddhism.

Meanwhile, Chinese perceptions of the flower lean on the darker side. The bright blossoms signify death and the unknown. On the other hand, African beliefs reflect a spiritual narrative of the white desert rose flowers.


Like their white counterparts, black desert rose flowers are a rare species. Black varieties are usually bi-colored with different shades of pink or red. The petal’s color pattern starts light red or pink in the middle and diffuses to a darker color while going outward.

Black desert rose flowers are relatively new. They’re gaining popularity in Thailand. In terms of symbolism, they haven’t garnered a traditional meaning like the old pink and red varieties. Instead, they carry pop culture connotations.

They may point to gothic scenes and meanings surrounding darkness. People accurately termed the dark-colored flora “Dracula,” “Black Carnival,” “Black Swan,” and “Tonight I am Yours.”

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Desert Rose Flower Meaning in Literature

In the book “The Complete Language of Flowers,” the author cites desert rose flowers as symbols of delusion, fiction, and death.

The symbolism likely refers to the poisonous nature of the flower. The milky sap produced from the plant is toxic to human touch. The indigenous tribes in African nations like Mozambique use the poisonous substance on their arrowheads when hunting.

Desert Rose Flower Botanical Characteristics

Although termed roses, these desert flowers are not part of the Rosaceae family. They’re succulents of the Apocynaceae family.

The term translates to “dog-away” in Greek. It’s called that because people used to harvest the fleshy plant as dog poison.


Desert rose flowers have thick stems. The perennial plant can grow up to six to nine inches in the wild.

One of the unique characteristics of the plant is its bulbous caudex that’s often hidden underground. The caudex forms the stem and root part of the desert rose.

Foliage-wise, desert rose plants don’t have many leaves growing. Instead, the plant emits creeping brown branches. The leaves that appear are leathery and oval-shaped.

They’re usually around four inches long. Like most other succulents, the desert rose’s leaves are fleshy and gray-green.

Besides that, the plant’s flora is bell-shaped. They have a salverform appearance where their center comprises a narrow tube, and the petals extend outward at a right angle.

In most cases, desert rose flowers are either pink or red. Nevertheless, some white and black species are present and grown artificially.

Desert Rose Flowers

How to Care for Desert Rose Flowers

As a hardy plant, desert rose flowers are relatively easy to own. The succulent’s main care components are water intake and light exposure. Here are some aspects of care to note.


Desert rose flowers thrive in sunny and warm environments. As an indoor plant, we suggest positioning them in a southern-facing window.

Meanwhile, if you intend to keep it outdoors, make sure it’s not in a shaded region but not in an area where the high-noon light can penetrate and scorch its thick leaves.


Desert rose flowers do best in damp soil during the blooming season, which lasts between late spring and summer. Ensure the topsoil is dry before attempting to water the plant, or you’ll risk overwatering the plant.

Meanwhile, during the other dormant months, decrease the plant’s water intake to once a  month. If it shows signs of dehydration, such as a deflated caudex, rehydrate it.


Like several other succulents, desert rose plants are more comfortable in well-draining soil mediums. You can use sandy or cactus soil with a neutral to acidic pH level.


As its name suggests, desert rose flowers flourish in warm desert-like environments. Subsequently, you’ll want to keep the plant’s environment above 50 degrees F.

Luckily, humidity isn’t a critical factor for desert roses. They can survive dry weather ranging between 65 to 90 degrees F.

Keep the plant indoors when the frosty months roll around. Otherwise, the desert rose’s leaves will likely fall off, and it’ll experience stunted growth.


Desert rose flowers are exotic plants native to the African, Arab, and Sub-Saharan regions. The gorgeous blooms carry several meanings.

In Chinese, Thai, and Indian cultures, the desert rose signifies good fortune and success. The flower’s meaning may also stem from its color, where red desert roses symbolize prosperity and pink resemble rejuvenation.

The good news is that desert rose flowers are relatively low-maintenance, whether you’re considering gifting or owning one. It’ll likely provide a seamless contrast to your living space and promote positive feng shui features.