What Is the Symbolism and Meaning of Black Flowers and Plants?

We all know the importance of color when it comes to symbolism and the power that color holds in a society.  

For years, children were associated with bold primary colors. That’s why we see blocks and other toys in those strong reds, blues, greens, and yellows.  

The color red, when gifted in flowers or boxes of candy, has long meant romance. And everyone knows that only the bride is allowed to wear white on her wedding day.  

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But what about black? Does it always have to mean darkness and death? Can black have another symbol or meaning in flowers and plants?  

Understanding the symbolism behind the color black when it comes to flowers and plants can keep you from hurting feelings or causing confusion.  

Plants and Flowers and the Meaning of Their Color Throughout History 

Throughout history and throughout the world, flowers have held different meanings to people based on the type of flower or plant and its colors. Myths, legends, stories, and even the Bible have all included flowers that held special symbolism.  

Plants and Flowers and the Meaning of Their Color Throughout History 

From ancient Greece to early China, flowers and plants have stood alternatively for love, friendship, hope, healing, grief, luck, and so much more.  

In fact, in some cultures, how the flowers were arranged or handled had an entirely different meaning. In Victorian England, flowers handed to someone with your right hand was a way of answering “yes” to a question, like a proposal. In contrast, the left hand signified the answer “no.”  

Flowers or plants delivered upside down meant the opposite of what they traditionally meant. For example, red roses delivered in reverse position would be a way of turning someone’s romantic advances down.  

In general, when it comes to colors, pink has long been a soft, feminine sort of love, whereas red is a passionate love. White has always and pretty universally meant innocence, chastity, and sweetness, while yellow signifies friendship and often romantic rejection.  

But what about black?  

Black Plants and Flowers and Their Historic Symbolism 

While black is often thought of as a color of mourning or sadness, the truth is that we also see black as a symbol of luxury, class, refinement, and quality.  

Think of the black American Express card, which is highly exclusive. Picture a sleek black limousine pulling up at a gala or other event. And of course, every woman owns at least one LBD, little black dress.  

Well, black flowers can hold just as many meanings, so many beyond grief. Yes. We must mention mourning and grief first, as they are the most obvious. It has long been a tradition to display black flowers or plants as a sign of remembrance, of loss, and of a place filled with deep grief.  

But black flowers and plants can also symbolize elegance and an upscale event or lifestyle. They can represent mystery, lending an air of intrigue to a party or other gathering.  

Black flowers displayed in the right context can also stand for rebellion and resistance. And they can be used by artists attempting to break conventions and express a spirit of nonconformity.  

Historically, black flowers have held deep meaning in cultures that embrace the macabre, like the goths or other subcultures. You can also find antique jewelry and fashion pieces laced in black flowers to express a cutting-edge style or sense of sophistication.  

Five Black Plants and Flowers and Their Meanings 

Black Rose 

The black rose is the ultimate symbol of death and is frequently used to offer condolences for another’s loss. However, it can also, in certain contexts, symbolize feelings of undying love and passion.  

It is interesting to think this flower holds such a wide range of meaning when it does not actually exist in nature and has to be dyed by a florist. The florist will take a dark-hued red, purple, or maroon rose and dip, spray, or burn the petals to deepen the color to black.  

In Ancient Greece and Rome, the black rose meant power, and today, it often signifies either despair, death, or the end of a romance.  

Black Tulip 

In contrast to the rose, the black tulip actually does exist in nature, though it is hard to find. Also setting it apart from the rose is the black tulip’s long history as a symbol of power and strength and much less so of grief and mourning.  

Though in Russia the term “black tulip” did refer to the vessel that held the dead bodies of Soviet soldiers home from fighting in Afghanistan, the flower itself is typically used across cultures to represent nobility and is often used by royalty.  

Black Hollyhock 

Black hollyhock is a flower used commonly in pagan rituals, most specifically during Lammas, the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. Lammas, on August 1, is the day to celebrate the harvest as this date is typically when grain is harvested and food is plentiful.  

Black hollyhock also has medicinal uses, healing the lungs and resolving issues in the digestive tract. It is most abundant during the summer, so it is only natural that it would represent this pagan festival.  

Black Lily 

The most elegant of the flowers on this list, the black lily, typically a calla lily, represents mystery, beauty, and elegance.  

The deep purple shade appears black at first glance, and it has long been a point of fascination for plant lovers. In some contexts, the black calla lily represents indulgence and decadence.  

Black Pansy 

The black pansy is the most interesting among these black flowers as they are typically flowers with bright, sweet colors and thought of as childlike and innocent. In black, this flower is called the “devil pansy” and can express feelings of mischievousness, courage, and strength.  

Black Pansy

In the end, black flowers are so much more than the flowers of sadness and can represent a wide range of feelings and emotions. Next time you’re feeling particularly bold or in search of some courage, check out which black flowers might best suit your situation, and get yourself some! 

What are your thoughts on black flowers and plants? Do you have any favorites? Let me know in the comments.  

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