Flowers are not merely a beautiful creation of Mother Nature and symbolic of love, passion and youth, but, are also deeply associated with many legends and myths. In some cultures, flowers, such as roses, are considered a representation of love and romance, while, in others, flowers like wolf’s-bane are considered to be powerful deterrents for vampires and werewolves. A tender flower bud represents youth and pleasure, while, a flower that is wilting is representative of death and sorrow. Even the shades of flowers carry different connotations, like, red flowers are symbolical of energy and blood. White blooms are symbolic of purity. Let’s take a look at the top 21 mythical flowers that are showcased below.
1. Lady’s Mantle
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Lady’s Mantle is one among the most famous mythical flowers to have existed before the 18th century in Europe. The flower is also called Alchemilla mollis and features leaves that look like cups. The flower captures your attention with its leaves that collect dew and always look beady. Lady’s Mantle was considered to be a plant that possessed magical powers by the European alchemists in 18th century. The beaded dew collected in the flower’s leaves was considered to have possessed magical properties. The alchemists collected the dew from the leaves and then used the dewdrops to experiment on base metals. It was believed that the dewdrops of Lady’s Mantle could transform base metals to gold. In some myths, the dewdrops of this flower were also used in preparing magic potions.
2. Ruta Graveolens
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Magical plants such as Ruta Graveolens or Rue as its popularly known, has been mentioned in many Shakespearean works. In his literary works, Shakespeare has named this plant ‘the herb of grace’. Rue was a highly revered plant in the 16th century and was used in churches for sprinkling holy water on church goers. It was also in use in ancient Greece during the time of Hippocrates, the Greek physician. It was a medicinal plant used for treating a number of ailments like spasms, coughs and cramps.
Rue has also been mentioned in French folklore as a plant that had the power to cure plaque. The recipe of the legendary ‘4 Thieves Vinegar’ also mentioned rue. In herb folklore of the Middle Ages, Rue was added secretly to the 4 Thieves Vinegar concoction when bubonic plaque wiped out millions. It was used by thieves to protect themselves against the terrible disease when they went on their mission to plunder wealth from those that died due to the epidemic.
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Here are some interesting Wolfsbane plant myths you all must know. Wolfs-bane was considered a poisonous plant that deterred werewolves, and was known to kill the vicious creatures with its deadly poison. According to folklore, this plant was used as a repellent against werewolves by people. If smelled or eaten, it had the power to kill a werewolf. Many fictional works like Kitty and the Midnight Hour mention about this deadly plant. In this book, Kitty, the newly turned werewolf, drinks tea made out of Wolfs-bane to lift the curse. However, she fails, and gets terribly sick.
Wolfs-bane was also considered deadly for vampires and we find mention of it in many vampire related folklores. According to myths, this plant was believed to have powers that worked against vampires. It was used as a protective shield to protect against vampire attacks in Europe. Apart from being used against werewolves and vampires, this plant was also used to make ointments by witches.
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If you read any folklore, rose will definitely find mention in it. Its a flower that has many representations in myths and legends. Rose is considered a symbol of love, passion and romance. In many cultures, it is associated with gods and divinity. In Greek and Roman mythology, rose was considered divine. As per Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the Love Goddess created the red rose. In Persian paintings and poetry, it was connected with the nightingale. In one such poem, Allah gave the name ‘Queen of Flowers’ to the white rose. There is one variety of rose called Moss Rose that is believed to have deep association with Jesus Christ’s blood. As per Hindu mythology, the flower rose was used by Lord Vishnu to create his consort – Goddess Laxmi. Similarly, the Romans believed that the rose was created by the Goddess of Spring, Flora.
5. Whomping Willow
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The Whomping Willow is a gigantic tree that finds mention in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It is a fictional tree that is violent and anyone who comes near it, gets thrashed by the huge branches of this tree. Located on the grounds of Hogwarts, this tree is very territorial and never spares anyone that comes in close proximity of it. According to this fictional book, the tree was planted in order to camouflage the entrance of a secret passage that started from the Hogwarts grounds to a spot in Hogsmeade Village called Shrieking Shack. The tree’s base features a small knot and can be disabled if anyone presses the knot.
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Lily with its trumpet shaped flower is mythical and has deep association with Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Christian folklore. While, it was symbolical of Upper Egypt in ancient Egypt, in ancient Mesopotamia, Lily was connected with Goddess Astarte or Ishtar who was worshiped as the Goddess of Virginity and Fertility. Ancient Greeks and Romans considered lily to be a sacred flower that was associated with Goddess Hera, Juno and Venus. When Christianity spread across the world, Christians associated lily with Mother Mary. In many early Christian folklores, lily symbolized purity and was linked to virgin saints. Even early Christian paintings depicted Mother Mary holding a lily given by the angel Gabriel.
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If you are wondering why we have just mentioned Narcissus in this list of magical plants, then, let us explain its mythical history. According to an old myth from the ancient land of Greece, Narcissus was not a flower to begin with. He was a very handsome young male who was in love with himself. Narcissus lacked emotions and was unsympathetic towards everyone. His rude behavior earned him gods’s wrath and was cursed to fall in love with his own reflection. The Goddess Nemesis led Narcissus to a pool where he got fixated with his own beautiful reflection and lost his mind. At the spot where Narcissus fell head over heels in love with himself, grew the Narcissus flower named by the nymphs.
Also Read: Growing Heliotrope Flowers in your Garden
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The bright yellow colored Sunflower, too, has mythical roots like the above mentioned flowers. In Greek mythology, the sunflower’s nemesis is Clytie, a water nymph who was also a Babylonian princess in other folklore. She fell in love with the Sun God Apollo, who, soon got bored with her. Clytie remained in love with Apollo. Legend has it that Clytie, in order to watch the god, would turn her head slowly like the sunflower, every time Apollo rode his sun chariot. This continued for ages until finally the gods turned her into a sunflower.
9. Wolf’s Claw
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Regarded as a powerful magical herb, the Wolf’s Claw was used extensively by Celtic Druids who used it for treating ailments like cramps, diarrhea and rheumatism. The flower was called Selago by ancient people of the stone-age and was used by magicians who used its oily and yellow colored spore dust to perform magic stunts on flames. In the middle ages, women used this flower to protect themselves from spells and sorcery.
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One can find mention of cornflower petals in herb folklore. According to one folklore, its petals were used to make a concoction that was used as an eyewash as well as mouthwash. Cornflower petals in dry form were also used as an antidote against scorpion’s poison and all other kinds of venom. Many people believed that by consuming cornflower’s seeds and leaves with wine, they could treat themselves against plaque. The flower was believed to have healing properties and was used to treat wounds and ulcers of the mouth.
11. Ginseng Root
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The roots of Ginseng, called Jin-chen in Chinese resemble a human and have great medicinal properties. Ancient Chinese used the roots of ginseng to treat sexual ailments and to increase stamina. Its a famous herb that finds mention in many Chinese legends. Known popularly in ancient China as ‘man root’, this herb resembled a human being with two long protrusions that looked like legs. The use of this herb was also prevalent in Cherokee Indian tribes. Ginseng was also believed to have properties that eliminated evil energy, known as qi.
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The poisonous Henbane plant is deadly to both human beings as well as animals. It was in use in ancient Greece during the time of Pliny. It is associated with gods in Greek mythology. Ancient Greek people called Henbane by a different name – Apollinaris. This plant was considered holy and was associated with God Apollo. As per the views of modern day scholars, this plant was used by the oracle priestess named Pythia who gave her prophecies in a drunken state. Natives belonging to ancient Germanic tribes used this plant in carrying out their rituals. Even the Celts as well as Romans were believed to use Henbane. But, in all the accounts, whether ancient or Medieval, Henbane was always described in a negative way. To most people, the plant smelled of death, and was considered quite appalling.
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Growing in the Alpine regions of Switzerland and Russia, this herb Arnica is a medicinal plant used for treating injuries, contusions, joint pain and dislocations. The plant’s effectiveness was brought to light by Goethe, a German writer who always maintained that it was Arnica that brought down his high fever and saved his life. This herb finds mention even in Norse mythology where its believed that this plant had the power to drive away a Norse demon called Bilwis from destroying wheat fields.
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The name of Anemone has to be mentioned in this list of mythical flowers as this plant has a deep association with ancient Greek myths. According to Greek mythology, red anemone was the flower that was born with the death of Adonis. Legend has it that Adonis was loved by Persephone as well as Aphrodite, Greek goddesses. He was stabbed by a wounded boar’s tusks when he went hunting one day. Hearing his cries, Aphrodite rushed to save him and saw him bleeding profusely till he died. At the spot where his blood drops fell, there grew red anemone flowers. Later, the Christians symbolized anemone with the blood of Christ that was shed when he was crucified.
Also Read: 25 Flowers that survive in Heat
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There is a myth in ancient Greece according to which God Apollo fell in love with Hyacinth or Hyacinthus, a handsome young Spartan Prince. Hyacinthus was also loved by the God of the West Wind, Zephyrus who always loathed Apollo. During a casual game of discus throwing between the two, Hyacinthus got accidentally killed by the discus. It was Zyphyrus who directed the discus to change its course and strike Hyacinthus on his head, thereby killing him instantly. After the death, Apollo in a grieving state transformed Hyacinthus into Hyacinth Flower, known as Larkspur Flower in ancient Greece.
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The ever sacred and holy Lotus Flower is deep-rooted in mythologies of different cultures and civilizations. According to Asian myths, Lotus was depicted as a personification of female sexuality and fertility. The Hindu people, since time immemorial have always worshiped gods and goddesses by offering Lotus at their feet. They believed that Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe was born out of a Lotus. Even Buddhist mythical stories of Buddha mentioned Lotus. The Egyptians linked the Lotus Flower with their Goddess, Isis, who was believed to have been born from it.
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Horehound is a mythical flower that can be linked to Germanic mythological stories. According to these stories, Horehound was a plant that was stuck by the Germanic god of thunder called Donar or Thunor’s lightening, thereby, rendering it immensely powerful. This plant is also linked with God Mercury, the messenger god and Earth. Apart from these associations, the Horehound is also linked with elves, fairies and pixies. These magical creatures were believed to have had a fetish for these white flowers.
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Oregano is much more than just a herb used for flavoring cuisines. It finds its origins in Greek mythology. In Greek, Oregano means ‘joy of the mountain’. According to Greek legends, oregano was in fact a creation of Aphrodite, the goddess of love who created the spicy scented oregano to symbolize happiness. This herb was used as a garland in ancient Greece to bless couples during marriages. These herbs were also placed on tombs for the peaceful journey of spirits to the afterlife.
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Mythical flowers such as periwinkle are closely associated with medicine folklore of many countries like China, Pacific, Europe and India. As per one legend, Periwinkle is a herb that is owned by Venus, the goddess of love. According to legend, if this herb’s leaves are consumed by a couple together, love blossoms between them. This is not all. Many voodoo witches in the Caribbean used this herb to cast voodoo spells of love between a couple. To many, the blue flower of the Periwinkle plant symbolizes peace.
20. Gotu kola
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The name of Gotu Kola has been mentioned time and again in many mythological stories of China and India. As per one such story, this herb was consumed by a master of Tai Chi Chuan called Li Ching-Yun who lived till the ripe age of 200 years. The conical shaped leaf of the Gotu Kola also offered stamina and energy to a Sinhalese king who lived in the 10th century in Srilanka. He attributed his immense sexual stamina to Gotu kola. He believed the plant gave him strength to maintain his big harem.
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In most ancient folklores, Linden appears to have a close connection with the goddess of love, truth, life and fortune-Freya. Linden is also called lime tree, a tree that was considered sacred by the ancient Germanic people. The Linden Tree, in myths, was worshiped and was regarded as a symbol of peace. Such was the power of Linden Tree that it could never be destroyed by lightening.
From Wolfsbane plant myths, to mythological stories associated with rose and sunflower, our article has covered almost all kinds of mythical flowers. We hope that you have enjoyed reading about them!