Which Flowers and Plants Are Symbolic of Healing?

Perhaps one of the things that sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to heal. An animal in the wild with an injury is almost certainly destined for imminent death.

As humans, one of earliest developments was to figure out how to heal. We have had doctors and healers in our tribes and communities from the very beginning. Just take a look at Eastern medicine practices like ayurveda, which is tens of thousands of years old.

Thus, it can be no surprise that we have flowers that represent healing for humans, mostly because they literally act as healing plants, but also because we have come to cherish them as gifts when we are ill.

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Plants and Flowers and Their Meaning Throughout History

Plants and Flowers and the Meaning Throughout History

Of course, plants and flowers are going to hold meaning for humans. We live in direct relation to plants and flowers. Without them, we would die.

Even the staunchest carnivore who never eats a single fruit, vegetable, or herb, will tell you that this diet only works because of the plants eaten by the animals they consume. We get the bulk of the nutrients that keep us alive and healthy from plants.

Also, they’re beautiful, and humans love beauty.

We love beauty so much and on so many levels that we have created an entire academic field around the study of the “humanities.” The reasoning goes that it is the beautiful things in the world that make us human, like art.

It is no wonder then that plants and flowers hold meaning to humans and have since the beginning of our existence.

Why Some Plants and Flowers Symbolize Healing

It is always interesting to think about the earliest humans and how we must have figured out which plants harm us and which ones heal.

In a foraging class recently, I listened as the teacher advised the class on how to know if a plant is harmful or innocuous. She said to put a small amount of the plant in your mouth and chew for 15 seconds, then spit the plant out. Next, wait 15 to 30 minutes to see how your body reacts to having interacted with that plant.

There must have been some sort of process like that to figure out which plants in nature would harm us. After all, there are some mushrooms that will work wonders on your body, some that will cause hallucinations, and others that will kill you.

Likewise, some herbs will heal you in a small dose and kill you in a large dose.

It is from these early experiments and lessons that we have established, virtually across cultures, a relationship to healing plants in nature.

Five Plants and Flowers that Symbolize Healing


Sage is perhaps the most prominent flower to symbolize healing in human history because it is so powerful both as an herb to be ingested and as an herb to be dried and burned for spiritual reasons. The word “sage” actually comes from the Latin word for heal and health.

It typically grows on tall stalks with large, brush-like flowers that sprout from the top of a stem and resemble a bottle brush. Sage flowers are most often a bright purple with tinges of pink, and the flowers and the leaves carry tremendous health benefits like antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

In many cultures, sage is dried and burned to clear negative energy in a space or person.


Native to the Americas, the passionflower is an unusual-looking flower that can grow on vines, shrubs, perennials, and even as a tree. It has long held a place of healing in native cultures and is an interesting gift to give someone as the flowers appear almost alien in nature.

Passionflower is used by many cultures medicinally to treat anxiety and sleep problems, among other things. It has been found in studies to boost GABA levels in your brain, which makes you happy.

Thus, giving passionflower as a gift, either in dried herb form or as a plant to grow, is a clear message of healing.


Jasmine feels like an almost too obvious symbol of healing. The word “jasmine” literally translates from the Hebrew word for “gift from God.”

It is fragrant, delicate, pretty, fast-growing, and hardy. Even if you never use it medicinally, jasmine is a lovely plant to grow on a trellis outside an open window.

In terms of health, jasmine has been used for muscle pain and cramping as well as digestion and ulcers. It is also another herb used commonly to help people sleep. Who hasn’t enjoyed the occasional cup of jasmine tea before bed?


Verbena is an eclectic flower that has many meanings in various cultures.

It has been given as a gift to show love and romance. It has been used in religious ceremonies. And it has long been recognized as a healing plant, as the name translates to “curing kidney stones.”

As an herb, verbena can assist with cramping, migraines, bronchitis, and of course, kidney stones. It is a powerful flower that can be given as a bouquet to let someone know you care.



I wanted to finish this article on healing with belladonna because I included it in my article on death plants, and it is an important point to make that the difference between medicine and poison often lies in the dose.

We far too often associate belladonna, or “deadly nightshade,” with murder and mayhem. The truth is this dark berry has been used throughout history to treat whooping cough, scarlet fever, asthma, cramps, and even neuralgia.

It would be a lovely gift to give someone a painting or some other type of belladonna symbol as a message of intense healing.

Of course, there are many other flowers and plants that represent healing in human cultures, many of which have no medicinal uses at all. This list is just the beginning.

Do you have any plants that you think of when it comes to healing? What plant or flower symbolizes healing most to you? Let me know in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.

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