Nectar of the Blossoms: Ambrosia Flowers in Myth and Floriography

Ambrosia has a beautiful name, but it’s a genus that includes many ragweed varieties that cause seasonal allergies. Despite some of the varieties being troublesome, other more decorative types carry important symbolic meanings. These flowers were popular in both Ancient Greek myths and as part of the Victorian flower language. Learn more about their symbolic value to gain a deeper appreciation for these common roadside flowers.

Ultimate Guide to Ambrosia Flowers

Ambrosia Flower Symbolism – Key Takeaways

Ambrosia carries the symbolic meaning of love and devotion in the language of flowers. Specifically, the Victorians used it to symbolize reciprocated love between two people. It’s also associated with immortality due to its references in Greek mythology.

Etymological Meaning

The name Ambrosia comes from the Ancient Greek term for immortality. It combines the prefix a- for “not” and mbrotos for “mortal.” This refers to the name’s use for the food of the Gods that granted them immortality. Ragweed is a reference to the ragged appearance of the leaves.

Ambrosia Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Ambrosia Flowers in bloom

Aside from the potential value of it as a medicinal herb, Ambrosia plants can have a wide range of symbolic uses.

Common Ambrosia Flower Colors and Their Meaning

Most Ambrosia flowers are only barely colorful, but there are a few colors that can add additional layers of symbolism to the bloom:

  • Cream: Charm, thoughtfulness, peace, grace, and healing
  • Yellow: Joy, friendship, happiness, confidence, and success
  • Mauve: Devotion, powerful love, gratitude, and hope.

The Cultural Significance of Ambrosia Flowers

Wild Ambrosia Flowers growing in a field

Ambrosia flowers aren’t showy when compared to other blossoms. However, they still carry plenty of significance due to their name.

Ambrosia Flowers in Ancient Greek Mythology

The Ambrosia genus has a long and storied history in Ancient Greece. The name was used for two distinct sets of myths that were not directly related. 

Firstly, it was the name for the food of the Gods that helped bestow immortality upon them. It was a food delivered to Mount Olympus each morning by doves, and it was described in various stories as being a substance like a tree sap or honey. This use of the Ambrosia name isn’t directly linked to the plant of the same name, but it nonetheless links the plant with a meaning of nourishment and sustenance.

The Nymph of Dionysus

The other mythology primarily associated with Ambrosia in Ancient Greece was the story of a nymph in the retinue of the god Dionysus

When the king of Thrace tried to forbid the worship of the god in his kingdom, he also attacked them directly. Ambrosia tried to hide by turning into a grapevine, but she was cut down by the king in his rage anyway. Dionysus turned the nymph into the flower we know as Ambrosia today. 

Since this nymph was also one of the nurses that helped raise Dionysus, it helped give the flower a symbolic meaning of care and support.

Ambrosia in the Victorian Language of Flowers

A basket of fresh cut Ambrosia flowers

Ancient Greeks were not the only people to appreciate the Ambrosia plant. 

Victorians also assigned it a meaning as part of their Flower Language. When included in a bouquet, even the humble Ambrosia flower sends a message of devotion and romantic love.

 In particular, Ambrosia flowers were used to represent reciprocated love between two people. It could also be a request to see if someone else reciprocated your feelings. Many bouquets sent between secret loves in the Victorian era included this flower that was often overshadowed by more colorful blooms to disguise the true message. 

This makes the Ambrosia flower a timeless,  romantic, and understated gesture.

Confusion with Wormwood

Many varieties of Ambrosia feature foliage that is similar to that of Wormwood plants. 

Common ragweed in particular can be confused for Mugwort and Wormwood until it begins to form blooms. While it doesn’t share the same meanings or medicinal uses as Wormwood varieties, both plants have a similar history of hundreds of years of use.

Suitable Gifting Occasions

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Ambrosia Flowers

Thanks to the strong romantic meaning, Ambrosia flowers are a great addition to wedding bouquets and anniversary gifts. 

This is an excellent flower for letting someone know you share their feelings or still feel the same way about them.

Wrap Up

While ragweed may cause allergies and grow aggressively in many parts of the world, it’s also a symbolic flower with plenty of meaning. The meaning of the flower may have changed since Ancient Greece, but it’s still widely available today. Consider working the common Ambrosia flower into your next romantic floral arrangement.

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