The hollyhock flower is a beautiful specimen with a rich history and an abundance of cultural significance. It’s also a flower that symbolizes a wide variety of things.
From its ancient beginnings in East Asia to its spread in the Middle East, Europe, then to the rest of the world, the hollyhock is truly fascinating. This ‘miracle plant’ is believed to have multiple healing properties and has been used by various cultures over the years. The hollyhock flower also has diverse symbolism. The most significant associations are ambition and fertility.
Read on to find out more about the hollyhock flower meaning, as well as its origins and cultural significance.
Hollyhock Flower Meaning & Symbolism
The word hollyhock is derived from Anglo-Saxon origins, those origins being ‘holy-hoc,’ or holy mallow.
The hollyhock flower was perceived to be holy and divine. It was believed to be a miracle plant and was used to cure a wide range of illnesses and injuries.
This plant falls under the umbrella of the genus Alcea, which contains approximately 60 other species too. The genus is derived from altheo, a Greek word that means ‘to cure.’
The hollyhock plant is native to the European and Asian continents. It initially appeared in China and began to spread to Syria through the trade routes between the two countries.
The plant then made its way into Europe by way of crusaders returning from Syria to their home countries. Since then, the hollyhock flower has spread to all corners of the globe.
In this day and age, hollyhocks are grown for aesthetic purposes. However, they’re also grown for medicinal reasons in some regions because they’re believed to have a healing aura that cures all.
What Does the Hollyhock Flower Symbolize?
Over the course of history, hollyhocks have been attributed to a variety of different meanings. However, two of those meanings have proven to be the most prevalent: ambition and fertility.
Hollyhock flowers are widely believed to symbolize ambition for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, hollyhock flowers are known for their longevity. They grow and spread at a rapid pace and remain flowering for what seems like forever. The way they keep growing and flowering for extended periods of time and in harsh conditions has characterized them as ambitious and resilient.
In addition, hollyhocks grow to be relatively tall. In most gardens, they tower above most other flowers. This symbolizes ambition as hollyhocks are prepared to ‘go above and beyond’ their peers.
Associating a flower with fertility may seem strange. Yet, there’s a rationale behind this symbolism, especially when it comes to the hollyhock flower.
Hollyhocks are seen to symbolize fertility thanks to their uncanny ability to rejuvenate themselves after the cold winter months and with the passing of each season. The ease with which hollyhocks can produce new blooms is why they’re often used to symbolize renewal, growth, and fertility.
Hollyhock Flower Colors and Their Meanings
Hollyhock flowers come in a variety of colors. There are red, purple, yellow, red, pink, and orange variants of this plant. Each hollyhock flower color corresponds to a different meaning, as you’ll see below.
Red Hollyhock Flower
This crimson variation of hollyhocks is associated with love. However, the love symbolized here isn’t the type of love you feel for a friend or family member but rather the passionate love you feel for a partner or spouse.
Purple Hollyhock Flower
Purple hollyhocks invoke meanings of nobility and grace. Gifting someone a purple hollyhock flower is a way of telling them just how highly you think of them and how special and dear they are to your heart.
Yellow Hollyhock Flower
Yellow-colored hollyhocks are generally seen to be a sign of friendship and happiness. They’re also associated with platonic love. Giving your best pal a yellow hollyhock communicates how much joy they bring into your life.
White Hollyhock Flower
White hollyhock flowers are commonly associated with fertility. In addition, they’re used to evoke emotions of purity, innocence, and honesty. This is why they’re a great gift when giving someone a sincere apology.
Pink Hollyhock Flower
Pink hollyhocks are versatile and are used to convey many meanings. Some of these include happiness, empathy, companionship, sensitivity, and love.
Orange Hollyhock Flower
Similar to pink and yellow hollyhocks, orange hollyhocks are a sign of joy and friendship.
Cultural Significance of Hollyhock Flowers
Hollyhock flowers are widely believed to have been present before humans even started recording history. In fact, they’re arguably the oldest species of flowers still being planted and cultivated to this day.
Origins of the Hollyhock Flower
There’s a controversy as to whether hollyhocks originated in China or Japan. However, the magnitude of their popularity in Japan is unparalleled.
In the early days, you were bound to find hollyhocks blooming in any Japanese garden you encountered. In fact, the hollyhock flower was used as part of the Tokugawa shogunate’s official seal.
To this day, hollyhocks have a significant role in Japanese culture. For example, the flower is celebrated in Kyoto in an annual festival solely dedicated to it, the Aoi Matsuri.
The hollyhock’s influence has even made headway in sports. It was even used as the inspiration when it came time to name the professional soccer club Mito Hollyhock.
The Spread of the Hollyhock Flower
However, the hollyhock flower didn’t stay confined to the Far East for very long. It rapidly spread all the way to the Middle East.
It then found its way to Europe by way of English crusaders. It was then, during the Victorian era, that the flower gained its associations with ambition and fertility.
The subsequent fast-paced dissemination of the hollyhock flower around the world was due to its beauty. Yet, there were other factors as well that contributed to this.
One of these factors is its ability to adapt to various conditions. This allowed it to thrive in almost any climate.
Another critical factor was the medicinal benefits it was thought to have and the fact that it’s edible. In addition, the ease with which large quantities of hollyhock seeds could be obtained allowed the flower to spread like wildfire whenever it was introduced into a new country.
Use of Hollyhock Flowers in Art & Decor
The beauty, elegance, and symbolism of the hollyhock flower have made it a staple in art and decor throughout history.
The flower has repeatedly been incorporated into the logos of companies producing baby products. This is largely due to the hollyhock’s close association with fertility.
Hollyhocks were also abundant in Art Nouveau decorative art, such as wallpapers and modern decor. They were also used as a totem of ambition and fearlessness.
What Does a Hollyhock Tattoo Mean?
Due to their affiliation with fertility, hollyhock flowers are often the tattoo of choice for those who’ve endured failed pregnancies and other fertility-related ordeals. A tattoo of a hollyhock symbolizes the strength and perseverance of the afflicted.
They’re meant as a beacon of new beginnings and a belief that the best is yet to come.
Occasions Where Gifting Hollyhocks is Suitable
Hollyhock flowers are suitable gifts for a variety of occasions due to their diverse symbolism and meaning.
Their significance as a gift is amplified when they’re coming from your own garden, as opposed to being simply bought from a florist. It can be an excellent way to convey the message of celebrating life and wishing the person on the receiving end good fortune.
Hollyhock flowers are also a great gift to give on occasions signifying progress, such as birthdays, graduations, promotions, and housewarmings.
Conclusion On Hollyhock Flower Meaning
The hollyhock flower symbolizes several things. In fact, each color variation of hollyhocks has a different symbolic significance.
The most prevalent associations with the hollyhock flower are ambition and fertility. The plant also symbolizes love, friendship, happiness, and sincerity.
Flowers have an unparalleled ability to allow you to say so much without uttering a single word, and hollyhocks have so many different things to say.
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